This past weekend I attended the Senior Retreat, along with over 200 other seniors, so that about ten percent of our class was present. Before the retreat began, I was apprehensive about the experience. My only other Notre Dame retreat was as a freshman, an experience which was as awkward as most other freshman year events are. As I packed my bag for the Senior Retreat, I worried that I would feel out of place and would not be fulfilled by the retreat activities. I steeled myself for what I worried would be an awkward and cheesy weekend.
In fact, I was entirely wrong in my dire expectations. What I did not prepare for was how much fun I would have. To begin with, I was deeply impressed by the testimonies of my fellow students. I was nervous that the talks might not relate much to my life, but I turned out to be happily mistaken. The students who spoke did an excellent job of conveying their gratitude for their years at Notre Dame and the way that those years have affected their relationship with God. From the football player who declared, "See that Lady on top of the Golden Dome? She's my girl," to the pretty business major who broke into sobs as she described how the Grotto became her refuge after her father died suddenly last year, each talk was interesting, profound and inspiring.
Another great feature of the retreat was the "small group" meetings, consisting of 7 or 8 participants and two retreat leaders. The small groups met after each session of witness talks to discuss the session, and conversation often veered off into nostalgia about our time at Notre Dame or practical suggestions to help each other grow closer to God. I didn't know most of the other members of my small group but we all grew to be friends by the end of the retreat. We are planning to have a group reunion at Sorin College's Wednesday night "chili Mass." In fact, here is a little Notre Dame gossip: after Wednesday's Mass, I'm planning to ask one of the guys in my small group to a dance this weekend. Keep it quiet though; I haven't asked him yet, so don't give away the surprise! ;)
The Senior Retreat was a beautiful experience and I'm so glad I attended it. I feel much closer to my classmates than I did before and thanks to the suggestions I heard on the retreat, I plan to make the most of the next four months - or the best four months, as my small group teammates would say. Here's to a wonderful last semester.