Frequently Asked Questions

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Why go on a retreat?

For any of the following reasons:

  • You are nearing, in, or completing a transition in your life and want to step back to reflect on what it all means and where God is in it.
  • You are curious about questions of faith and spirituality and want to learn how other people engage in these questions.
  • You want to meet new friends.
  • You are dealing with a loss, change, or challenge in your life and could use some community, guidance, and support.
  • You are unsatisfied with your relationship with God and/or others and want to make changes.
  • You feel like you’ve made progress in your faith and want to keep things headed in a positive direction.
  • You think you’re hearing God’s voice or call, but aren’t sure or don’t know what to do about it.
  • You’ve been feeling lonely on campus and need a change of pace and people.
  • You want to escape the city and connect with God and people somewhere beautiful.
  • You have found retreats valuable in the past and want to come back to them.
  • You have never ever been on a retreat and want to jump into a new experience.
  • You want to connect with more people who share your values.
  • Or you have your own individual reasons drawing you toward a retreat experience.

People come for their own purposes and desires, and one of the strengths of a retreat is that people can come for many reasons and each get what they need, as part of the community.

I’m not very religious. Will I fit in on a retreat?

If you’re open to engaging questions of meaning, purpose, faith, and spirituality, and you’re curious about how other people approach those questions, then a retreat will be a good fit for you. That matters much more than what faith tradition (if any) you come from, how often you go or don’t go to church, and how strong or struggling you feel in your spirituality.

If you don’t like considering questions of meaning, purpose, faith, and spirituality, then you won’t enjoy a retreat experience, but if you’re on this webpage right now, that probably isn’t you.

I’m not Christian. Will I fit in on a retreat?

People of all faiths are welcome on all retreats! Participants regularly report that they learn and receive insights on retreat particularly from talking with those with a different perspective (not just religious perspective, but that is a common one mentioned). Most Campus Ministry retreats are based on Christian, Ignatian, and/or Catholic ideals and use vocabulary and principles from those traditions, but student leaders are attentive to defining and translating those principles so people from all backgrounds can find them helpful.

Milwalking is a retreat particularly geared toward people of all faith backgrounds or none, and Salt & Light is particularly helpful for people curious about or wanting to grow in Catholic understanding and practice, but all retreats are inviting and open.

How does financial assistance work?

Our office believes strongly that every person should be able to attend a retreat no matter their financial situation. If you want to go on a retreat, money need not be a concern. Just register for the retreat you plan to attend, then email Pablo Cardenal (the Campus Ministry retreat director) letting him know that you’d like to receive financial assistance, or include this request on your registration. We have always been able to work out a solution for every student and are happy to tailor to what helps you most.

Are there any prerequisites for any of the retreats?

Almost none. One retreat (the Ignatian Leadership Retreat) is for first year students only, and two others (the Marquette Experience and Silent Directed Retreats) require you to be in your sophomore year or beyond, but otherwise all are open to any interested student. You do not need to have any prior experience with Campus Ministry; in fact, retreats are a common first Campus Ministry encounter for students. You do not need any prior experience with faith or religion, and you do not need to be at any particular point in your faith journey.

I did retreats in high school, why would I do them now?

Two reasons:

  1. Many high schools and religious education programs have excellent retreats, but those retreats are often mandatory. While there can be good reasons for this, it creates a different kind of atmosphere and usually some participants are disengaged. All Campus Ministry retreats are entirely voluntary—in fact, people make a sacrifice of time and money to attend, and so they desire to get as much out of the experience as they possibly can.
  2. You are (hopefully) more emotionally and spiritually mature than when you were in high school, and your questions may have changed and deepened as well. These can include questions about career and vocation, relationships, how to integrate faith and college life, how to fully own and grow one’s own faith, and more.

For both of these reasons, conversations and insights on college retreats are usually deeper, more open, and more meaningful than on high school ones.

Which retreat is the best one to start with?

It depends on your interests, desires, class year, and schedule. Every retreat last year had at least a few people for whom it was their first retreat, and mainly they were just happy they’d been able to do a retreat (in fact, several juniors and seniors mentioned they were sorry they had waited so long to participate in one).

In general terms, the best retreat is the first one you can make that looks appealing. Pretty simple!

What if I don’t know anyone else going?

It is very common for people to attend retreats without knowing any other participants, and usually the desire to meet new people is one of the top hopes mentioned by participants (including those who came with friends). Sometimes lifelong friendships are formed on retreat, sometimes the community disperses after the retreat, sometimes nearly the entire group stays in touch. But just about always there is a kind of community magic that brings retreatants together for the duration of the experience, forged from people who were previously strangers.

Is there time to do homework on the retreat?

Ideally, it's nice to leave homework on campus. We stay fairly busy with activities and conversation and like to use free time for community time and personal reflection. That said, you may be in a position where the only way you can realistically attend a retreat is by bringing some work, and that is completely fine.