Building Brotherhood at LUREC
To kick off the new academic year, our seminarians packed up for a weekend-long retreat at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus (LUREC). There, they participated in a variety activities designed to build strong relationships, designate time for solitude and peaceful prayer, introduce the new seminarians to the upperclassmen and, of course, have a good time. Here's the first-hand experience that one of our freshman seminarians, Angel Alvarez, described:
Q: How did you spend time while on the retreat?
A: We did team building activities (freshmen with sophomores and juniors with seniors). As a self-described couch potato, it came as a surprise that I actually enjoyed these very much. My brother seminarians were very motivating. There was a high-ropes course that I attempted -- I say attempted because even though I managed to get to the top, my fear of heights made me have to go back down. Reaching the top was a large enough accomplishment for me.
We also had community-building time as a whole group which involved games and pizza. Of course, we also had prayer. We prayed multiple times throughout the day, had the opportunity to adore our Eucharistic Lord, and we asked Our Lady for her intercession through a communal Rosary.
Q: How did all of these activities benefit you as a seminarian?
A: All of these activities brought us all closer together. I was able to have interesting conversations with my brothers that strengthened my discernment. I feel blessed to discern with them. It's also great to get away from life as usual to go on a retreat and dedicate time to prayer. It’s a good method to retreat from the world and spend some intimate, quality time with God.
Q: Can you share a fun story that happened while there?
A: One thing that happened while we were on retreat is that three of us (Brandon, Goodwin, and myself) went into the stairwell and started chanting. It seems melodramatic, but we actually united in song, and it sounded beautiful. I find it interesting how God works in mysterious ways to put the right people in our lives. Chanting the Tantum Ergo with them at night made me realize that brotherhood is a walk together. We sing, laugh, cry, walk, run, and pray together. People have come and go in my life over the years, but now I realize that it was to make room for the spiritual brothers I now have here at St. Joe’s.
Q: What were your expectations going into the retreat?
A: I didn’t really know what to expect from this retreat. I went in with an open heart and mind, willing to let God work whatever he wanted, and I returned full of strength and zeal for both the academic year and the discernment process.
Check out some of the LUREC retreat pictures below: