College students from the Newman Center at UW-Oshkosh stayed at a cabin on Long Lake during an August retreat in Eagle River. (Photo courtesy Katie Hickson)

Katie Hickson
Special to the Catholic Herald

Editor’s note: Katie Hickson, niece of editor Anita Draper, is a sophomore at UW-Oshkosh in the Diocese of Green Bay. The UW-Oshkosh Newman Center hosted a retreat in Eagle River from Aug. 23-25.

Last month, I attended the Fall Retreat with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Newman Center in Eagle River. Many people were instrumental in making the retreat possible, including Fr. Zach Weber, the Newman Center chaplain; Sara Scheunemann, the Newman Center’s administrative assistant; Marie Reichard, the director of music; and Sami Boehm, the intern for retreats. It was Sami’s family who generously welcomed us into their family cabin on Long Lake, giving us a beautiful place to spend the three days. Our campus’s FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries also assisted and led small group discussions throughout the retreat.

The main focus of the retreat was to discover our different charisms, which we learned are gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to each person to help them build up and help the church in its mission. Fr. Zach gave an introductory talk about them to begin the process. Then we had time individually to take inventory of our charisms to determine which areas we were strongest in. Later that day, we split into small groups with other people who had similar charisms to talk about ways to use our gifts going forward to help build up our Newman Center community. The experience of sharing our strengths with each other and learning about the gifts of others created a strong community-building effect. Finally, on our last day, Father spoke about how to avoid hurting or burning out our charisms and how to use them only for good.

While we kept busy listening to talks and attending Mass and holy hour every day, we were also thankful to have free time to enjoy the lake, the yard, and the fellowship of the other retreat members. We played outdoor games, learned group dances and relaxed around bonfires.

The retreat was overall a wonderful event, from the peacefulness that seemed to hang in the air around the cabin and the lake to the presence of God that could be felt in the Masses, the discussions and the people around me. I am very grateful to everyone who made it possible.

Katie Hickson