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University-designed Retreat Wins Ignatian Medal

University-designed Retreat Wins Ignatian Medal

“A Desert Experience,” a retreat designed by campus minister Fred Mercadante, won the Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Campus Program or Initiative at the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators conference in San Antonio, Texas, in April.

Mercadante described “A Desert Experience” as a transforming journey that removes complacency from faith and insists students go to deeper places that might feel uncomfortable at first.

One such place is Death Valley National Park, California, the “land of extremes,” where the retreat takes place annually, offering students the opportunity to practice contemplation while hiking and camping. Spanning five nights, Mercadante explained, students reflect on themes that lay the groundwork for a contemplative disposition.

The experience has five main goals: faith formation and adult spirituality; cultivating a new view of the realities of life; teaching students to pray with nature; building community and University-designed Retreat Wins Ignatian Medal fellowship; and fostering total personal growth.

Results, Mercadante said, are similar, in that participants emerge closer to their true selves; become aware of the dying and rising prevalent in their lives; better recognize, acknowledge and celebrate God’s revelation; develop a wider perspective; and learn to surrender ego and control.

“At no time in my life have I experienced such peace with the world as I did in the silence of reflection on this retreat,” said Bryan Gorczyca ’19, an exercise science major from Colonia, New Jersey. “I have come out a better version of myself.”

This medal, established in spring 1997, is the only Ignatian Medal awarded to an institution rather than an individual and recognizes creativity, focus, adaptability and effectiveness in student affairs work.

Read the full article, here.

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