WINNSBORO — Eighty-two college students from across the diocese met Oct. 1-3 for the annual fall retreat and a weekend of inspirational talks from retired Bishop William Curlin.
“This is the first year we have had a bishop speak at one of our retreats, and Bishop Curlin was an excellent choice,” said Father Jeffrey Kendall, director of campus ministry for the Diocese of Charleston. “He was well received by the students, and many students spoke of the retreat as a life-changing experience.” The retreat was held at the White Oak Conference Center.
Bishop Curlin’s topic was the four marks of the church — one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. For each mark he emphasized ways that the students could celebrate unity, become holy through Taizé prayer (a form of sung prayer), find their identity in Christ and the church, and be Christ for others, according to Sister Rita Schroeder, campus minister for the College of Charleston.
Bishop Curlin reminded students that they must “move beyond feelings and work with your head and your soul” and that they “must not be frightened by silence. Are you afraid to find out who you are?”
“The things he said to the students were wonderful,” said Sister Schroeder. “They just loved to be in his presence.”
On Saturday night the students put the “Bishop on a Hot Seat.” They asked Bishop Curlin questions on topics ranging from church doctrine to life skills.
The bishop also heard confessions for more than two hours.
The experience was a memorable one for Katie Brown, a sophomore at the College of Charleston.
“We got a lot deeper this time than on other retreats,” she said. “The bishop was friends with Mother Teresa, and he shared a lot of stories. I didn’t feel an emotional high like I normally feel after a retreat. I felt empowered and almost sorrowful. I was humbled by the life that Mother Teresa lived.”
Brown said that Bishop Curlin really “made me feel that he was standing in the presence of Christ.”
“I will remember him and this weekend for the rest of my life,” she said.