‘Castaway’ theme set for weekend retreat

Sean Sauro, Staff Writer

Walking through the halls on the way to their next class, Pitt-Johnstown students may have seen green fliers, reading “Castaway,” tacked to bulletin boards.

While it may be easy to confuse them for advertisements for a screening of the famous Tom Hanks film, these fliers are actually advertising a religious getaway to be held this Friday through Sunday at Pine Springs Camp in Jennerstown.

Castaway is the theme given to this year’s Catholic Campus Ministry fall retreat, Retreat Coordinator Caitlin Wolford said, adding that, though the theme is known, retreat activities associated with it are being kept secret.

“Each semester we pick a theme, and it’s like a big reveal,” she said. “The theme drives all of our talks and discussions. It really just sets us up for the whole weekend.”

While Wolford was reluctant to reveal details regarding the theme, Office Assistant Alysse Gormley provided more insight.

“It’s mostly about casting away bad things, letting go of the past, those types of things,” she said, adding that the annual retreat has the same general objective each year.

“It’s about spiritually growing and learning things about yourself,” she said.

This is the ministry’s sixth retreat, Wolford said, adding that about 40 students normally attend.

“It’s more of a fellowship-based retreat,” she said. “Usually, when people go to one retreat, they become a regular and go to more.”

This is to be the fourth year the ministry group has chosen Pine Springs Camp for the retreat, Wolford said.

“It’s remote, and you feel like you’re in your own little world.”

The retreat is open to non-Catholic students as well, Wolford said.

Gormley said participating in the ministry group has made her college experience more enjoyable.

“Besides learning so much about myself, I got to get so close with these people,” she said, talking about the other group members. “It’s about just signing up and making that initial step.

“It definitely made my college experience.”

Protestant Campus Ministry Vice President Cody Belle said his group also is planning a fall retreat.

Their retreat, to be held at Camp Allegheny in Stoystown, is to be held the first weekend of November, Belle said.

While no specific events have been planned for the retreat, Belle said the group has been planning and holding many other campus events.

“Every Thursday night, we have an event called Time Out,” he said, explaining it’s a gathering to allow students to take time off from typical college life.

Also, on Sundays, the group hosts a Sunday Night Experience: a slightly abstract church service, Belle said.

“More or less, it’s a church service for students who don’t have anywhere else to go,” he said, adding the group will sometimes digress from normal service to watch a Sunday night football game in the Cambria Room.

“We’re just chilling out, watching the game and having some food.”

This weekend, the group members are to hold a lock in at the chapel, Belle said.

“It’s kind of an all-night thing,” he said. “It’s something to do during the weekend.”

Protestant Ministry Treasurer Aaron Bruce said joining the ministry group has helped him to better understand himself and others.

“It’s not always black and white, praise and worship,” Bruce said. “To me, as a student, it really helps me with my own personal growth.”