Seeing God’s love at Catholic Campus Ministry retreat

CHARLESTON — Where do you see God’s love? Emmeline Caron sees it in the flowers that open to new life each spring.

Caron was one of 70 students who participated in the Statewide Catholic Campus Ministry Student Retreat in Leesville. The retreat, held Feb. 16-18, focused on witnessing God’s infinite love. The students engaged in discussions, personal prayer and reflection, journal writing and clay sculpturing.

For some, like Caron, becoming the potter and creating was a wonderful symbol of God’s love. Others found it through music and song, participation in Mass, or spiritual reflection.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for like-minded souls” to come together and share their faith, said Jane LaMarche, Ph.D. She is the associate director of Campus Ministry and director of Catholic Campus Ministry for the College of Charleston, which operates under the Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Christian Formation.

“Sometimes it’s hard (for Catholic students) at secular schools to find similar companions,” LaMarche said.

The weekend retreats, which are held twice a year, are the perfect occasion for students to reconnect with each other, learn from each other, and strengthen their faith, she said.

Each retreat includes four sessions dedicated to exploring the main theme of the weekend. The weekend agenda of this gathering touched on various topics related to God’s love, including how to communicate with God while also being a college student.

This year’s spring retreat marked a milestone for the campus ministry program with record-breaking participation from 11 colleges and universities. A total of 70 people attended.

“That’s the largest number of schools that has ever participated at one time,” LaMarche said. “We’ve had that many students before, but not that many colleges. It was nice to have such a large participation.”

She attributes the increase to better publicity on the various campuses about the retreats and what they have to offer.

The grounds boast an eight-room lodge for adults, a large meeting room and cafeteria, a pool and four cottages divided between men and women. Students pay $50 of the $77 fee and the school’s respective campus ministry pays the difference.

Retreats are open to any Catholic student who wishes to attend, LaMarche said. She added that they occasionally have non-Catholics interested in converting attend the retreats, and that the chance to attend Mass is a wonderful learning experience for these students. The next retreat will be held in October.

For more information about Catholic Campus Ministry, click “Diocesan Departments” in the sidebar at left, then “Christian Formation.”