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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

Fellowship, fun and faith convene at GFR 2024

Freshmen gather in the theater for one of many large group sessions. Photo from GFR 2024 Photo Crew.

Each year early into the second semester and over Martin Luther King weekend, Gonzaga holds one of its most unconventional, chaotic, and impactful events. Campus Ministry puts on the Freshman Retreat, a defining event for every class at Gonzaga in the middle of their freshman year.

“We want freshmen to have an opportunity of togetherness and community with each other and their whole class, but in a Christian Catholic intentional way, right with God at the core of what that retreat is and so that partly means, Mass and the witness talks, but it also means breaking bread together over a meal or playing Spikeball together, understanding where God is at work and all of that, and sometimes it’s the first time they could do that intentionally,” said Ms. Danielle Flood, associate director of campus ministry.

Juniors and seniors assist as a part of Gonzaga’s Retreat team, and sophomores make up the GFR Grounds Crew.

The theme of the Freshman Retreat for 2024 was “Fellowship Forged in Faith,” created by a group of 15 seniors known as the “core team” of the retreat. They began meeting back in August during the team’s annual Retreat Team training retreat. The core team was also tasked with choosing Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield as the main song and deciding on The Sandlot (1993) as the movie to watch during the retreat. The freshmen participated in activities like recreation time, small group discussions, shared meals, mass, prayer rallies, and witness talks. and spending Saturday night at school in the classrooms of Cantwell-Reusch. 

The witness talks were especially impactful on the retreat. 

 “Witness talks helped me realize that like, this is like a true brotherhood not like something people just talk about like it was clearly seen through that,” said Danny McGee ‘27.

The witness talks helped the freshmen realize their paths to Gonzaga may look different, but they are still brothers through it all.

“I liked the witness talks the most because I got to see the struggles of some of my brothers and how they ended up at Gonzaga,” said David Curry ‘27.

The freshmen were not the only people experiencing the retreat for the first time. Campus Ministry welcomed Fr. Patrick Nolan, SJ, director of campus ministry and Ignatian identity, and Mr. Vincent Rizzo, assistant director of campus ministry, to the staff, and 2024 was their first taste of GFR.

“Gonzaga Freshman Retreat it was riveting. It was wonderful; it was a lot, but in the best way possible,” Mr. Rizzo said.

The 2024 freshman retreat was a success, many students grew in faith, friendship, community and love. Smiles could be seen from ear to ear as students participated in the various activities and the eventual closing slide show.

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    Carol CorganFeb 3, 2024 at 7:05 pm

    Nice job, Colin! I especially like the reporting on the witness talks.