Fr. Christopher Rehagen, C.S.C. shares his reflection on the value of the College Discernment Retreat:
When I entered the University of Notre Dame as a freshman, discerning a vocation to the priesthood was one of the furthest things from my mind. I was set as a business major, looking forward to a career in banking. As I went through freshman year, however, things changed. I began to grow in my faith and have the sneaky feeling that God might be calling me to the priesthood.
Over the next several years, I went through a period of informal discernment in which I talked with family and friends about discerning a call to the priesthood but never talked to a formal vocation staff. Eventually, when senior year rolled around, I realized I needed more structure in my discernment and turned to the Holy Cross vocation staff to provide that structure.
One of the ways in which they invited me to formally discern was the College Discernment Retreat, which they promised would help me learn how to better discern God’s call for me through prayer as well as interactions with Holy Cross priests and seminarians on the retreat.
The retreat was one of the best things that could have happened to me in my discernment. For starters, it helped me grow in my prayer life and become more adept at listening to God in prayer. I needed the time away from the busyness of college life to learn to better discern the movements of the Spirit in my life.
The retreat also helped me come to realize that the feelings of uncertainty and unworthiness I had regarding whether God was calling me to the priesthood were normal and something almost all of us on the retreat were going through. To be able to talk to the seminarians about their experiences in conquering those feelings by trusting in God was invaluable for me. Finally, my interactions with the Holy Cross religious on the retreat were wonderful. The priests and seminarians I interacted with were hope-filled men with whom I got along well. I could easily see myself as a part of them.
Filled with the Spirit, I came back from the retreat nearly certain that God was calling me to enter formation. This feeling was confirmed in my informal visit to Moreau Seminary as well as in the application process. Three years later, I can honestly say that the College Discernment Retreat was one of the most important steps in my journey to the seminary. It helped confirm that God was asking me to place my trust in Him and enter formation. I did and haven’t regretted it since.