On Saturday, Aug. 31, fresh-eyed Franciscan students began the academic year with a focus on faith and community at the New Student Retreat held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Finnegan Fieldhouse.
The retreat involved praise and worship music, speakers and games designed to welcome the freshmen and transfer students into their new family at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The day began with a cookout at 11:30 a.m., after which the crowd moved inside to dive deeper into their relationships with each other and with God.
Students engaged in all kinds of activities to get out of their comfort zones and interact with one another. Icebreakers and games such as “God says” (rather than “Simon says”), “telephone charades,” “Would you rather…” and others allowed the students to get to know their peers better.
Loud music and colored, moving lights kept the atmosphere alive as students played and prayed together. In addition to the social time and an abundance of free freeze pops, students also received advice from speakers about making the most of their time at Franciscan University.
Deacon Ralph Poyo, the keynote speaker, warned the students against going through the motions during their college years and encouraged listeners to truly let Christ touch their hearts.
“Deacon Poyo told us as freshmen that we could be here for all four years at Franciscan … and never really tap into Christ,” said freshman Mary Catherine Prostejovsky. “Right now is really an opportunity where we can grow, not only intellectually, but we can actually tap into life-changing grace. … We can leave here as joyful disciples, or we can leave here as individuals who have been untouched because we didn’t let Christ into our hearts.”
Transfer student and sophomore Matthew George was also struck by Poyo’s talk. “You don’t need to be afraid of the darkness in life; you can bring them to Christ, and Christ will heal them,” George said.
Jonathan Meinholz, a transfer student, said, “As a sophomore, I can point out that a lot of what was said by the speakers is something that many freshmen should learn and know about to better acclimate themselves to college life.” He said that the meet-and-greet games “(put) us all on the same level. … It is good for us to all share the awkwardness.”