By: Luis “Luigi” Finston
Church retreats are a special way for people to connect with one another, and a way for them to escape to a peaceful place of meditation and quiet. The Students at the Newman Center at NMSU certainly hold true to that.
Once every semester, the Newman Center hosts a retreat which is known as Aggie Awakening. The name itself is one that combines the school pride of the Aggies, with the presence of the church all in one.
Aggie Awakening first started out in 2012 when a group of campus ministers and students decided to bring the idea of having a retreat to a college community. Since its first retreat in the Fall of 2012, the Newman Center has had nine of these retreats.
Students who have been on these Awakening retreats describe it as something that you cannot understand until you have been a part of it. Armando Arellano, is a member of the Newman community who plays percussion in the choir during mass and has had the opportunity of attending several of these retreats.
“These retreats are an experience that you can only live”, he said. “It’s one thing to hear about it and a whole different thing to live it. Once you’ve lived the retreat, it really stays with you for a long time.”
To tell what happens at these retreats, would ruin the purpose of attending it. But being able to attend a church retreat that encourages community and bonding is defiantly nothing short of appealing for some.
“There’s a significant amount of change in the people who attend the retreat”, Arellano said.
“People get more involved in the church and serving the community and they tend to stick around more often. It’s a very vibrant and positive outcome.”
The retreat is three days long beginning on Friday evening and ending Sunday afternoon. For the past two years, the Newman Center has been in partnership with the Holy Cross Retreat Center, having its last few Awakening take place at the location.
Carla Villareal is a student Intern who works for the Newman Center. She describes the experience of going on the Aggie Awakening retreats as a way for people to slow down and get away from the chaos of school, and the opportunity to reflect on what’s going on in our lives.
“Here is a chance for people to learn and hear about other people’s stories, and what they’ve been through”, she said.
“It’s amazing how a community of support is formed. By the end of the retreat here’s a bond that is formed between staff and retreat members and everyone who takes part in the retreat. You can tell that there is a holy presence during the course of the weekend.”
For newcomers and freshman to NMSU, attending Aggie Awakening is a way to make friends and be a part of a student organization. But for others it’s a little more than that. Emily Wimsatt is a Sophomore from Albuquerque, and praised the Newman Community and Aggie Awakening for having such a strong sense of community.
“It was eye opening for me”, she said.
“I went on retreat back home in Albuquerque at my home parish. They were good, but in comparison it was nothing like Aggie Awakening. In the course of two and half days, you become part of a community that has a bond unlike any other.”