The Division of Student Affairs at the University of Portland celebrated the feast of St. André Bessette this year with a day-long retreat. On January 7, before any of the students had returned from the Christmas holidays, more than 70 members across the various departments that make up Student Affairs, including directors and assistant directors from all of the residence halls, gathered together to reflect on their common mission and to build up a sense of community with each other.
Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C., who is in his first year as vice president of Student Affairs, claimed that this was the first time in over five years since there has been a division-wide retreat at UP. Student Affairs involves much of the non-academic side of university life. This includes not only Residence Life and Student Activities, but also Public Safety, the Health Center, Career Services, International Student Services, and the Moreau Center for Service and Leadership. Campus Ministry and the Shepard Freshman Resource Center were also invited to this retreat on the Feast of St. André.
Fr. Kevin Grove, C.S.C., was invited to lead the retreat, which focused on Blessed Basil Moreau’s vision of a Holy Cross education. Although the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross is a popular touchstone for any discussions on mission at UP, Fr. Kevin’s deep knowledge of the life and writings of Fr. Moreau, along with the many anecdotes he shared, deepened everyone’s appreciation of the Holy Cross charism as it is lived out here at the University of Portland.
Fr. Kevin stressed the importance of Fr. Moreau’s choice of the Holy Family as an inspiration for working together to care for the students who live and study at the university. He challenged everyone in Student Affairs to look at their work as contributing to a transformation within the hearts and minds of the students.
Dr. Craig Swinyard, from the math faculty, and Laura Goble, director of the Moreau Center for Service and Leadership, were also both invited to speak to the group about their own experiences of transformation among students at UP. After each presentation from Fr. Kevin and the two panelists, retreat participants were all invited to share their reflections with each other in small groups.
The retreat day ended with Mass in honor of St. André at the Christ the Teacher Chapel on campus. Fr. Gerry was the presider and Fr. Kevin preached. At the end of Mass, small medals which had been obtained from the St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal, were blessed and distributed to everyone present. The medals featured both the images of St. André and of St. Joseph.