A student from Mercer University, Macon, soars down a zipline as she glides 750 feet to the next tower. Photograph by Jessica L. Marsala.
A student from Mercer University, Macon, soars down a zipline as she glides 750 feet to the next tower. Photograph by Jessica L. Marsala.

Students let their fears fly at spring campus ministry retreat

Originally Appeared in : 9809-4/26/18

ROBERTA--White paint emerged from the paintbrushes, bottles and rollers in their hands, transforming the rainbow of color beneath, now dry.


Though harmless on paper, these colorful words and designs — now covered, crossed out or rewritten — represented the long list of concrete fears, insecurities and questions that troubled their collegiate minds and that of their peers.


Not merely an art project, this exercise in creativity exemplified the overarching theme of the 2018 spring intercollegiate retreat — how to be fearless as Catholics — for which a record number of college and university students had gathered April 13-15.


“It really emphasizes the point that we all have fears in our lives, whether maybe about love or trusting God or whatever it may be,” said Jeannine Mari, a freshman at the Savannah School of Art and Design, one of the seven participating schools, of how the retreat impacted her. “But the best way to get through it is through walking through them and having that faith and knowing that God has your back and that he’s present in our lives even when we don’t see it or don’t know it or don’t feel it.”


The retreat, which featured Catholic musician Teresa Peterson and her husband James Shackleford as guest speakers and worship leaders, stimulated students with talks about how to be fearless in discernment and battle, among other topics.


Zip lining, archery and rock climbing on the grounds of Camp Grace, where the retreat was held, also provided many opportunities for students to show faith in the face of fear.


Nick Carrasco, a graduate student at Augusta University, remarked that the retreat gave him a new appreciation for how to be fearless by not being afraid of ridicule or rejection.


“But I think that, I mean, along with seeing people my age having such strong faith, just in general portraying your faith, being proud of it — I think that’s what I have taken away from this retreat in terms of fearlessness,” Carrasco said. He added that he hopes to bring this sense of fearlessness back to Augusta with him and encourage his lukewarm Catholic friends to better develop their relationships with each other and with God.


After a viewing of the documentary, “Fearless,” produced by filmmaker Maura Smith, Father Chris Ortega, parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Church in Brunswick and its mission, helped lead the students to pray with and for the healing of their peers, as demonstrated by evangelizers in the movie.


Madeline Walz, a freshman at SCAD, recounted how her hands ached because she had fallen while chasing bouncy balls during a game called “chaos.”


 “And my hands were tingling, kind of like someone was massaging my hands a little and they’re fine now,” Walz said of the healing service’s impact.


Jessica L. Marsala is Assistant to the Editor of the Southern Cross.


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