The freshman retreat was held at Saint Elizabeth Seton Parish in Bedford and focused on the three pillars of Campus Ministry: prayer, mercy, and community. The retreat was a combination of talks, activities, prayer, and a film. One of my favorite activities was when each student made a "brick" out of a paper bag and wrote his or her talents on it. Prior to this we read Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians about each person having different gifts and talents but one Lord who unites us all. The students then took their "bricks" and built a sort of house with a cornerstone that said Jesus Christ. After all the bricks were in place, we took out the cornerstone and the house of course collapsed. The imagery was obvious - we need Christ as our cornerstone, otherwise all of our talents and gifts mean nothing.
Following lunch I spoke to the students about our works of mercy using Pope Francis' actions and words as inspiration. We then watched a film about Saint Francis Inn to show the students an example of our service work and to hopefully inspire them to take an active role in the many opportunities we have to show mercy to our fellow men and women. I quoted Pope Francis who recently said, "When you meet those most in need, your heart will continue to grow bigger, bigger, and bigger!"
We then moved to the church for a final prayer service where I offered the following reflection:
I was pretty involved in my high school, mostly in Campus Ministry (shocker) but I felt I could have done more. So when I got to Saint Anselm College I told myself that I would get involved right away and make the absolute most of my four years there. I decided to run for Student Government and was elected a senator of my class every year. I knew I only had four years to do things and I really wanted to make an impact. I was assigned to serve on the student welfare committee, essentially a committee that thinks of ideas to improve daily life for the students. I had lots of ideas and some of them were implemented, like soap dispensers and hand dryers in the dorm bathrooms. I was at the college recently for a meeting and as I was walking down the hall in the Cushing Center I came across something that stopped me in my tracks - a phone. When I was a student there I suggested we install a campus phone in the stairwell so students could make calls on campus (this was before cell phones were big) and they put it in. I could not believe that almost 15 years later it was still there. I can’t imagine anyone uses it anymore but there it was, a little tiny insignificant piece of me still on the campus of Saint Anselm College. Now maybe they took it out by now, I don’t know but I was happy to see that it lasted so long.