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Archives Students ‘Encounter Beauty and Encounter Christ’

Dec. 5, 2018

By Amanda Conklin
Contributing Writer

SARANAC LAKE – Eleven college students from St. Lawrence University, Clarkson University, SUNY Potsdam, andGuggenheim COllege Retreat SUNY Canton gathered on the weekend of Sept. 21 to 23 at Camp Guggenheim for the annual Fall Intercollegiate Retreat.

The theme of the retreat was “Encounter Beauty, Encounter Christ.” Deacon Richard Burns, Coordinator of Campus Ministry led a workshop on Psalm 8 and shared about his star gazing hobby, the beauty of the heavens, and the power of God. Students were able to view the night sky off the point using Deacon Burns’ telescope.

Tylor Starkey, campus minister for Potsdam, gave a workshop on the philosophy of beauty. SUNY Potsdam senior Conner Cummings led a personal witness workshop on how he finds beauty in the Catholic Church and shared about his own faith journey. Father Bryan D. Stitt presented a workshop on how to find God through beauty in meal, media and man.

The retreat included adoration, Mass and an opportunity for the Sacrament of Penance, as Father Patrick A. Ratigan of Saranac Lake joined Father Stitt to hear confessions Friday night. The students also had the opportunity to hike nearby Mount Baker led by Adirondack guide and Pro-Life director for the diocese, John Miner.

The young adults enjoyed a special candle-lit dinner together to share fellowship and a beautiful view of the fall leaves on Saturday night of the retreat. Colleen Miner and Ellen Miner generously served as the cooks for the weekend.

The retreat also included an opportunity for students to ask specific questions about the faith using a “question box,” which lead to discussion. SLU senior Evan Schulz of Missouri said he enjoyed the interesting topics.

“I thought the question box night went far beyond typical questions common in youth ministry,” Schulz said.

“The leaders did not just recite their locked and loaded answers on sex, birth control, homosexuality, abortion, gender, etc. Instead, they wrangled extremely diverse and complex economic, bimolecular, anthropological, medical, and cosmological issues and their fundamental and practical implications on Catholic theology and logic.”

In addition to a time for learning, the retreat is a time of cherished fellowship and rest for the students. For many freshmen, it is a time to get to know some new friends when the homesickness begins to set in.

“Before the retreat, I wasn’t practicing my faith regularly,” said SUNY Canton freshman Jon Monnat, a Watertown native. “But after the retreat, I was blown away by the amazing Catholic family I met, and it has encouraged me to get more involved in the community and pray every night!!”

“There is something so wonderful about being able to share our faith-with believers and non-believers alike,” added Madonna Champagne, a sophomore at Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and Malone native. “The Camp Guggenheim retreat allowed me to spend a weekend with likeminded college students praising God and learning more about our faith. Going on the retreat reminded me how much beauty is in everything; I am so grateful I was able to go. I will never forget how much fun it was, and how amazing our faith is.”

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