Retreats in all seasons provide an oasis of rest, fun, play, prayer, reflection, good food, a nature walk/hike, skiing, sledding, bonfire, north of Columbus at Templed Hills in Belville or an adventure to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana or an after noon into the evening a Alum Creek State beach for swimming, volley ball, a grilled supper, sunset prayer and conversation. All offer companionship through community for students of the Downtowners Campus Ministry. Students slow down, pray, play and think about meaning and purpose in their lives and what they want in the present and future. As one student expressed in his evaluation: “Thank you for a wonderful weekend retreat. At this point in my life, I have struggled to find direction, particularly in my spiritual life and the calling I feel to serve God. This experience has been profound in helping me to open my heart and eyes to the will of God. Prior to the retreat, I was having difficulty seeing my connection with God, but living out here, even for a short time, gives me something that I can take back to the city and will help me to stay connected to God in spite of the busyness.”
Regardless of the time of year or the particular location of a Downtowners’ retreat, students’ minds and hearts are freed from their daily toils and cares to re-connect with God in nature and fellowship with others on life’s journey.
The Student in the City program educates students to the needs of others by their visiting with Directors and Staff of Holy Rosary/St. John’s Community Kitchen on South Ohio and Friends of the Homeless to learn about their operations and services to clients. The second part of the program involves inviting a panel of residential, street and working poor to the university for lunch and conversation around themes of struggle and resources needed and sometimes available, such as legal help to transition from shelters to independent living. Shared prayer is part of the gathering both before and after conversation.