By JULIE CAVANAUGH
GARDEN CITY — Preparation for the upcoming jubilee 2000 celebration was the main topic at the fall semester retreat for college students across South Carolina. The retreat, held Oct. 1-3, gave more than 80 students the chance to hear the word of God, deepen their faith and enjoy fellowship.
Jeremy Zier, an 18-year-old freshman at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, attended the retreat for the first time.
“It was pretty cool that a whole state can get together and share that common bond between us which is our Catholic religion,” Zier said.
Father Bob Sayer, a recently ordained priest and associate pastor at St. Michael Church in Garden City, was the keynote speaker on Saturday. Father Sayer explained that the word retreat is a military term for a tactical or strategic move allowing time for restrengthening and rest.
“It is not a time to run away from the struggles that will always be there,” he said. “It is a time to renourish and restrengthen to enter the fight and face them head on.”
A way to prepare for this is through the forgiveness of sins which is stressed in the Scriptures. The example studied throughout the weekend was Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son.
“God is encouraging us to seek reconciliation with him and to return to his flock,” Sayer said. “As soon as we make the slightest move toward him, he will come running.”
Saturday afternoon was devoted to four workshops covering everything from reconciliation to liturgical dance to meditative prayer.
The workshop on reconciliation was hosted by Father Jeff Kendall, campus minister for The Citadel in Charleston. The class explored the sacrament of confession, why many people are afraid to ask for forgiveness and the elements that comprise a good confession.
Nikki Kirtsey is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She is currently in the RCIA program and will become Catholic in the spring. Kirtsey made her first confession during the retreat.
“I learned what reconciliation and confession was all about,” she said. “The beliefs of the Catholic Church are more closely aligned with my religious and political beliefs.”
Confession is seen as an integral part of the upcoming jubilee 2000 celebration, and students had the chance to participate in the sacrament on Saturday evening before Mass.
“This is the greatest opportunity for reconciliation since that first Easter and that’s why the Holy Father is asking us to be so excited about the Jubilee,” Father Sayer said. “God wants us back.”
Carl Przybylek, a senior at the College of Charleston, said the retreat was a joyful opportunity to experience reconciliation and to release sin in preparation for the jubilee.
“It’s easy to get caught up in college life with drinking, social activities, preparing for the future. We are in college to basically get ahead in life and are burdened with all the material things in life,” Przybylek said. “We need to focus and turn our attention to what really matters.”