By: Christian Hoag, University Ministry
Prior to settling in at Gonzaga University for four of the best years of my life, I was spending much of my time taking part in a number of retreats and youth group events through my church in the greater Seattle area. Through these events, I established a strong, comfortable, and intimate relationship with this local church community, which allowed me to see how God was working in my life and where He was guiding, shaping, and teaching me. It was truly a blessing to grow up in such a community, and was a characteristic that I sought when I chose to attend Gonzaga.
However, in the first couple years of college, my focus was primarily on acclimating myself to the academia, solidarity and stress of the college lifestyle, so much so that I simply forgot to put some of that focus towards my faith. What had been such an integral part of my life had in some ways escaped me, yet I was completely unaware.
Thankfully, that all changed when I took part in one of the longest lasting traditions (and one of the biggest secrets) at Gonzaga University: SEARCH. They say this retreat always comes at the perfect time, and that was most certainly true in my case. I was oblivious to the fact I had not been committed to my faith, and this retreat was what made me aware of that fact. It gave me a chance to take a step back, and look at the culmination of my Gonzaga experience up to that point, and I was able to see that God had been there the whole time. The retreat was able to accomplish this by promoting and ultimately creating an intimate and vulnerable community that allowed me to take down my boundaries, put aside my stresses, halt my judgments, and purely enjoy and appreciate all the blessings that I have been given. Not only did I re-establish my faith, I founded countless precious relationships with my fellow Zags, relationships that exude honesty, acceptance, and will last for the rest of my life. Getting to become a part of this community and reinvigorate my faith through SEARCH was without a doubt one of the top highlights of my stay at Gonzaga.
Retreats through University Ministries as a whole are an integral and unique part to the Gonzaga experience, whether it is freshman retreat, Cardoner, SEARCH, or even the busy student retreat. They are excellent opportunities to take a step back from the stressful nuances of college and simply reflect on life as a whole, gaining perspective on all the good and all the bad, and ultimately seeing God’s love at work in all of it.