Usually students go to the Thomas More College Biology Field Station to study biology, but when nearly 30 TMC students spent a recent weekend at the Field Station in California, Kentucky, their focus was on their relationship with Jesus Christ. The retreat was based on the book, “Your College Faith: OWN IT!” by authors Colleen and Matt Swaim, hosts of Sacred Heart Radio. The Swaims led the retreat with support from student leaders.
The three-day event gave students the opportunity to meet in small groups and share their experiences of following their faith on TMC’s campus. “I have taken away from the retreat that God works in so many ways, and that we always have to keep our eyes open for Him. I hope to never forget how He worked through everyone that weekend,” said TMC student Ran Liwag.
Attendees spent time together celebrating Mass, reflecting on their spirituality, sharing meals and making memories. Discussions included how to make your faith authentically yours, Christian ethics on campus and beyond, how to balance faith in a busy life, reconciliation and forgiveness, and discernment. Students were so moved by the experience, they took to social media to share their thoughts with others. “It’s crazy how one #CollegeRetreat weekend can change your life. I have rekindled my faith and stand firm in my beliefs. #LetGoandLetGod,” one attendee said on Twitter. Another added, “Friends who attend #dailymass together, “staytogether!”
Tucked into a hillside facing the Ohio River, the Biology Field Station provided an inspiring backdrop for students as they pushed themselves and each other to dig deeper into their faith. TMC student Jenna Willett, said “I have made so many new friends that hold me accountable and do things with me like go to daily Mass.” Willett said the retreat reminded her that “God is always with me and that I can’t make excuses when it comes to serving Him.”
TMC student Abby Mattingly says that for her it was an eye-opening experience. “During adoration one night I was skimming through my Bible finding random passages to read. The Bible previously belonged to a good friend who had circled several passages. I stumbled upon Proverbs 3:3 and 3:5-6. ‘Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understandings. Submit to Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight.’” To Mattingly the passage was a sign. “That was a sign for a way to help me grow in my faith. A sign I’d been praying for,” she says.
Those who were in attendance agreed that while it was only a three day retreat, it was three days that will impact them for years to come.