I remember walking through the Atrium in the student center after 10 p.m. Mass one Sunday night a while back and seeing all these people in a circle with the same shirts on. A few of them were dancing around the inside of the circle, while everyone else was clapping and laughing. The sound of the crowd carried throughout the student center – even if I went into the newsroom and shut the door, I could still hear them cheering.
Wow, those Manresa kids must have had a really good time this weekend. A lot of people want me to go on this retreat – maybe I ought to go next time, I thought to myself.
Luckily, I got a spot for the next one, Manresa 21, which was held this past weekend in Villa Maria, Pa., and the experience was incredible.
I went to the retreat with a few friends, but I made a whole lot more after the weekend was over. Our Manresa 21 Facebook group has been blowing up with updates over the past few days because our group was so tight-knit. Many of us have pulled late-night study sessions together and one person even wanted to form a euchre game, a pastime during the evenings last weekend. If I didn’t have so much homework, I’d be happy to play cards.
Probably the best part of this post-Manresa period is seeing everyone I went on the retreat with all over campus. We had a group of over 50 people, so it’s been hard not to see at least one of them every day. Everyone brings a smile to each other’s faces.
So what exactly was so special about this retreat? I don’t want to give a lot away because I want you to experience it for yourself, but there are some things I think I can share.
As you can tell by most of the Manresa T-shirts, the focus is all about love – remembering to love yourself and others. The retreat helps you take a deep breath from everything going on in your life and re-examine your priorities: your relationship with God, taking care of yourself and your friendships with other people. Through the talks from our leaders and the prayers we all shared, you come to realize that everyone has issues they are dealing with. And a little bit of love can go a long way. “Everybody, everybody wants to love. Everybody, everybody wants to be loved,” sings Ingrid Michaelson in “Everybody,” one of the songs we heard over the weekend (and that I now can’t stop humming).
So, by the time we came back Sunday afternoon, everyone was in really good spirits. Before 10 p.m. Mass, we all attended a reunion party to see some videos and pictures from our weekend together. After Mass, someone started clapping, we all joined in, formed a circle in the Atrium and now we got to dance, cheer and laugh.
I caught a glimpse of the people near our circle – their facial expressions said, “What happened to you guys this weekend?”
The events of Manresa 21 had a positive impact on all of us that went, as other Manresa retreats have done the same for those that took part. I encourage you, if you haven’t gone already, to try to make the next one in the fall.
I promise that you’ll be glad you did.