Friday, September 18, 2009

When I started at Saint Xavier...

By Sammi Powers

When I started at Saint Xavier, I knew that I wanted to make some major changes from how I was in high school. I wanted to be involved, to make lots of friends, and to be an active part of the Church culture on campus. Less than a few weeks in, I had the perfect opportunity afforded me; it was a campus ministry-sponsored retreat called Quest.

Quest wasn’t necessarily God-focused, was open to all faiths, and was designed to help freshmen and transfer students find community. At Quest, we were given a chance to relax and be ourselves in an environment away from campus. On campus was great, but it was hard to just let go with everyone posturing, exploring our newfound independence and trying to find a balance between our school lives and our new home lives. Out at Camp Manitoqua, though, we understood that this was a place to settle all the ideas and experiences we’d been through in our first month in college.

Campus Ministry has designed Quest to help students adjust to college life. There are talks from student leaders about stress (how to deal with balancing homework, classes, activities, and living semi-independently), relationships (how things will change between you and old friends, between you and new friends, with your family, and with how you relate to God), how you came to where you are (called Lifemaps), and spirituality (which gives students the idea of how college may change your views on faith, God, or religion).

Each talk is accompanied by an activity meant to enhance the meaning and message of each student speaker’s talk. Leaders host small group discussions that are often contingent on these activities, which range from the letter writing that accompanies the relationships talk to creating a Lifemap, the story of the student’s journey. Each activity has leeway that allows the students to share as much or as little they’d like. Students may express themselves through drawing, song lyrics, writing or colors, among other things.

In small groups, students share a bond of trust. This means that when you get back to campus you always have someone you can say hi to in the halls, or even go to talk to when things get rough. Quest eases you into Campus Ministry, showing you that even though it’s about faith, it’s not necessarily about religion.

All in all, though, it’s about making a community. And SXU is all about community. By having this core of people, you know for sure that there’s always someone there for you and somewhere to go outside of your classrooms and your dorms.

Take this opportunity, because your college experience won’t be the same without it. I don’t hesitate to say that my experience so far would have been considerably less rich without campus ministry, which I never would have gotten involved in without this retreat. Quest is a chance to relax, to learn, and to grow in a safe, welcoming environment.

Sammi Powers is a junior communications major from Romeoville. She is Peer Minister for Liturgical Ministry, deputy Viewpoints editor for The Xavierite and program director for WXAV 88.3 FM. Consideration for the student bloggers is provided by Saint Xavier University.

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