Lauren Caggiano
Freelance Writer
September 14, 2016 // Local

Retreat invites college students to grow in faith

Lauren Caggiano
Freelance Writer

Eliese Kurtzweg, Elizabeth Hess, Erin Enochs and Theresa Hilger pose at the 2015 Summit Awakening retreat.

By Lauren Caggiano

Organizers of a nationally known retreat at the University of Saint Francis Sept. 30-Oct. 2 are inviting college-aged youth to grow closer to Christ.

Summit Awakening 4: Homeward Bound is a student-led, Christian-based retreat ministry sponsored the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and USF, which promises personal testimonies, group reflection and immersion in the mystical body of Christ. The inspiration for the theme, Homeward Bound, stems from the story of the Prodigal Son as told by Jesus in the New Testament. The retreat will examine the experience of returning home, forgiveness and mercy all which flow from the heart of Christ.

In addition to these lessons, a sense of community is central to the event. Awakening retreats are held in locations all over the U.S. Awakening is an experience for those who are spiritually searching, and are not sure of God’s role in their lives but want to know more, as well as for those who are just looking to dig a little deeper. In general, the retreat affords participants with the time and space to step away from hectic campus life and take time to look inwardly and think about their own spiritual journey. Students who have already attended the retreat are invited to serve as leaders who help facilitate discussions.

Students from Purdue University, Indiana University, and The Ohio State University helped hold the first Awakening in the Fort Wayne area in 2014. Now Summit Awakening is held annually, staffed by students from a variety of institutions including USF, IPFW, Indiana Tech, Ivy Tech, Trine University and Manchester University.

Co-coordinator Elizabeth Hess, a senior at IPFW studying elementary and social education, is among them. She’s helping to plan the retreat with Phillip Litchfield, a junior at IPFW. Hess felt compelled to become more involved after attending a retreat in April 2015, which she described as “life changing.”

“I felt God speak to me and got connected with some awesome Catholics,” she said.

The retreat proved to be good timing. In her words, “It was just what I needed at that time.”

Austin Whisler hugs Eseosa Igbinijesu at the 2015 Summit Awakening retreat.

Hess said she hopes other retreatants will share a similar experience. “We hope that it can be a place to find community and share and grow in faith,” she said. “It’s coming to know and love God better.”

That means helping each other work through problems. College can be a confusing time for many people, but a sense of solidarity can be comforting. Hess said the organizers hope this retreat will unite local Catholic co-eds across multiple campuses.

“You’re really hearing from people especially who share the same struggles you have and know that you’re in this together,” she said.

The three-day retreat starts 6 p.m. Friday and concludes Sunday at 2 p.m. All activities will take place at Business Center of University of Saint Francis Downtown Campus, 826 Ewing St. The $30 registration fee includes food and other perks. The retreat is open to any college-aged student in the diocese. For more information, visit


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