As a freshman, you quickly realize that you have nothing figured out. You enter college thinking that acting like an adult will be easy, but are quickly knocked down when things aren’t as easy as they appear. Finding your place becomes much more difficult than expected. In my first few weeks at Baylor, I met plenty of people that I liked and connected with, yet there was one small aspect of community that I missed. I missed the feeling of a family, a home away from home. My parish back in Minnesota had always served this purpose for me, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t come close to finding that at Baylor. I thought I could never find my home here. St. Peter’s showed me that clearly I didn’t have that figured out either.
I signed up for New Student Retreat thinking that, if anything, it would be nice to decompress after the first month of school. From the minute I walked into St Peter’s, I could feel the joy that seemed to radiate off of every person. It seemed to be chaotic, but the kind of beautiful chaos typically experienced at large family holidays. I readied myself for what would be a very interesting weekend.
The weekend that followed became one of the most impactful times of my life. The first moment that stood out to me was meeting my table family. I may be a bit biased, but my table family was by far the best. From the start of the retreat, I was given people to turn to and talk to about whatever I needed. My “parents” were incredibly kind and made me feel as though I was part of an actual family. Throughout the weekend, each and every person I met made me feel welcome and at home at St. Peter’s. Whether it was someone simply introducing themselves or my table parents assuring me that they had been praying for me, I knew that I had found my home away from home. As a freshman, this is all that I wanted, a place to call home and people to call a family.
Not only was the retreat fun and joyful, but there was a clear devotion to prayer and faith. At every quiet moment, someone would ask if we could do a rosary or say another prayer. I saw a desire to constantly grow closer to God in each person at the retreat. Reconciliation was offered on Friday night, and people were eager to go. Most places I had been, eager would not be the word to describe peoples’ feelings about Reconciliation. Eager is the word I would use to describe much of what I saw. The people I met were eager to learn more about faith, eager to pray even more, eager to share what they experienced, and eager to devote themselves entirely to God. I was inspired, to say the least. I was compelled to draw closer to God and develop a deeper relationship. The weekend ended with affirmations. Half of us sat in a circle with our eyes closed as the others walked around the circle. Statements such as “someone who made you laugh,” “someone you saw Christ in,” and “someone who made you feel welcome,” were read as people tapped the shoulders of the people that had done such things for them. It was in those moments when I realized that someone had seen Christ in me that I sat in wonder. The people that had inspired me also saw Christ in me. I realized that my faith was visible, that in some way or another, I was imitating Christ. It is this realization that made me more passionate about being Catholic, and being very open about it.
Throughout the weekend, I found myself saying “thank you, God” each and every chance I could. I would look up at the beautiful night sky, and whisper, “thank you, God”. I looked at the Eucharist and thought, “thank you, God”. I saw the incredible, Christ-like people around me, and all I could think to say was “thank you, God”. I can never thank God enough for bringing the people of St. Peter’s into my life. The New Student Retreat was an unforgettable experience that has impacted my life far more than I could have ever hoped for. Each time I walk into St. Peter’s, I feel like I’ve returned home. I open the doors and see my family, loud and joyous as ever.
I have learned that I don’t have everything, or really anything figured out, but with St. Peter’s, I’ve seen that I have people that will help me figure it out, my family.
Emily is a Freshman from Savage, Minnesota studying Physics. Thanks for sharing Emily!