Commencement is right around the corner, and seniors are preparing to venture forth into the real world. Before crossing the stage and receiving their diploma, a group of seniors gathered at the Retreat and Ecology Campus for the Senior Retreat in early April.

The Senior Retreat is a time for seniors to reflect on their four years at Loyola and also look ahead and identify anxieties about the future.

Lauren Schwer, director of retreats, says reflection is an integral part of the Ignatian heritage and retreats offer students the opportunity to do just that.

“When we look at our Jesuit tradition, Ignatius of Loyola was all about retreat,” Schwer says. “We talk about key experiences at Loyola. We talk about highlight moments. If [students] don’t take the time to reflect on them, we have missed an opportunity to transform them.”

Schwer says retreats serve as a vehicle for recognizing these transformative events and seeing how that event can continue to shape the future.

“I never want the retreat to be the highlight moment. I want the retreat to be the moment to identify what that is,” Schwer says. “If you don’t realize how impactful something has been to you, you don’t know how to move forward. Retreats provide the place to stop and think.”

Schwer says the retreats have been largely successful since they started in 2011. All 40 spots on this year’s senior retreat were filled within four hours. The retreat actually overbooked because they could not turn off the retreat registration system fast enough. Campus Ministry did not even have to use the advertising flyers they had created.

“It’s a great problem to have,” says Schwer.

Elyssa Rossetti, a senior majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in marketing, has gone on a retreat every year since the University acquired the Retreat and Ecology Campus in 2011. She finds retreats are a good way to connect with herself.

“Retreats are great to understand yourself better. It’s a chance to reconnect with yourself either spiritually or emotionally. It allows you to recharge and get away from our busy lives in the city,” she says.

Gretchen Heinrichs, a senior psychology major, says she went on the retreat with friends but really enjoyed getting to meet even more people.

“My favorite part of the retreat was being able to share my experiences at Loyola with some of my best friends with me on the retreat but also complete strangers that I had never met until the retreat. It was a wonderful mix of people and I felt like my Loyola life came to a complete circle,” Heinrichs says.

Heinrichs is no stranger to retreats; the Senior Retreat was her third of the semester.

“I’m a firm believer in going on retreats. I don’t think we have enough time as students during our normal weeks to sit down and reflect, and retreats give you a unique opportunity to not only reflect, but to make new friends and have a blast. I always end up learning more about myself and my relationship with the world around me,” Heinrichs says.

For more information on retreats, please click here.