START Retreat Helps Students Find Meaning

Jan 07, 2019

The years spent as an undergraduate are a time of academic and personal growth. To assist students on their dual journey, Assumption offers a number of opportunities for students to reflect on their lives.

Campus Ministry recently hosted the biannual START Retreat for students to travel off-campus to reflect on a number of different themes:  identity, commitment, faith, prayer, and discipleship, to name a few. START fosters an environment of community and contemplation. The retreats, led by students, includes a series of talks, small group discussions and opportunities for students to discuss shared experiences. This helps students identify what they value most, who they understand themselves to be and what meaning they are seeking in their lives.

START motivates students to explore their relationship with God and with others as well as reflect on their faith journey overall. In all of these ways, START Retreats support Assumption’s mission of creating students who think critically about important questions, engage the world as thoughtful citizens, and see those in their midst as ones they are called to compassionately serve.

“The START Retreat encourages students to take time away from campus to connect with their peers and reflect on aspects of their lives that they often don’t take time to reflect upon – often due to the demands of their schoolwork, co-curricular & leadership responsibilities, and busy schedules,” said Associate Director of Campus Ministry Stephanie McCaffrey.

Not only do the START Retreats provide students time for self-reflection, but also to develop one’s leadership skills.

“I found that I really enjoyed leading retreats. I gained more confidence in myself through my previous START Retreat so I decided I wanted to try to help other Assumption students to do the same,” said Mark San Clemente ’19, a human services and rehabilitation studies major from Medway, who served as the rector for the recent retreat. “It was nice to see those who have been at Assumption for four years interacting with those who just arrived about two months ago.”

San Clemente attended his first retreat during the fall semester of his freshman year at Assumption, which led to him becoming a rector for the following spring semester.

Two Assumption alumnae, Amy Logue ‘01 and Erin Jones Barata ‘01, created START after attending a similar retreat at St. Michael’s in the late 1990s. They enjoyed the experience so much they decided to bring the retreat back to Assumption, tailoring the retreat for students by utilizing certain aspects of the LEAP Retreat. This customization resulted in the formation of the 24-hour, off campus START Retreat.

The retreat helped San Clemente to look at his own journey of faith. “I went on the START Retreat my first year at Assumption and it really helped me look at my faith in a different way. I was just beginning my college career and the START Retreat introduced me to Campus Ministry.”

The most memorable moment from the weekend was “just seeing how all of the team members and the retreatants were smiling. After all the work that Allison (my co-rector) and I put in to make this retreat possible, it was amazing to see all of our hard work pay off. It also reminded me that I hopefully touched and changed students’ lives from this experience.”

The START Retreat is offered once a semester – in October and March of each academic year. START is open for all students, Catholic and those from other faith communities. Since its formation, the student-led retreat has increasingly grown in popularity among Assumption students.