Pan y Vino is a retreat put on by the Catholic Student Organization twice a year. It is a weekend-long retreat that takes place at Lake Martin and provides faith-filled, fun activities.
The first retreat will be on Oct. 5–7, 2018, and the second one will be Feb. 22–24, 2019.
“It’s a retreat for college students by college students,” said Elsie Sheldrick, junior in nursing.
Sheldrick is on the prayer team for the retreat and explained the prayer group works behind the scenes praying for everyone and then meets with the groups after discussion to talk about what they felt.
This retreat is open to all. Everyone is encouraged to sign up no matter where they are on their faith journey, Sheldrick says.
She believes that this retreat could potentially be the start of a faith journey for those not already religiously affiliated.
Sheldrick loves Pan y Vino because the first time she went was as a freshman in the spring, and she had an amazing encounter with spirituality and knowing herself.
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“I was kind of in a low place in my life. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or where I was supposed to go. Just getting that community base right off the bat was a really great way to get to know people who are in my shoes.”
Going in, she just was looking for a “shoulder to lean on,” but on top of that, she found comfort in her search for what faith means to her and discovered that many of her peers were on the same path she was.
Joseph Naro, a senior in chemical engineering, was a family group leader last year.
Now, he is a co-head for this year’s retreat team.
Naro has been attending this retreat since he was a freshman, and it has helped him on his faith journey.
Pan y Vino was “the first time I felt like I belonged somewhere,” he says. “I was searching for all this community in college but did not find it until I was in my family group at Pan y Vino.”
His eyes were opened to new revelations in his personal and spiritual life.
“Besides just sparking my relationship with Jesus, it let me see that other people care about me and my values too,” he said.
The retreat is broken up into talks lead by college students.
After each talk, family groups, or small groups, get together to discuss what they have just heard.
The family groups are typically co-ed, but they do have a few single gendered groups of the same age.
“If you’re a freshman, you’re not just going to get thrown in a group with a bunch of seniors,” Naro says.
The talks are about “commonly unknown topics that we all assume we know,” Naro says. “The core of our talks are based on the thought ‘what can I do to know and do better’ and just actually knowing what the faith is about.”
In addition to college students giving talks, Sheldrick said that there will be a family from the local Catholic parish, St. Michael’s.
“The talk will be about family life and what to look for in a marriage and family, or whatever your vocation is,” she said.
There is a theme each year, and this year’s theme is based on keeping and finding eternal peace as well as building strong relationships with others and Jesus, Naro explained.
In addition to spiritual activities, games and sports are incorporated into breaks.
Naro feels that this is a time where friendships and community can build and grow.
This time is meant to be stress-free and a way for students to leave the stress of college behind.
“We put it away from college so there is not that stress of ‘I need to do my homework’.”
Sheldrick said at the end, there will be adoration and an opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation for anyone who wishes to go.
Keeping it stress-free is very important to the Pan y Vino team.
Naro said that the team picked Oct. 5-7 to be the first semester dates because it was during an away game and accommodates the most amount of students in terms of conflict.
Sheldrick encourages all to sign up because some of her best friends were made at Pan y Vino and describes them as not only friends, but also accountability partners to check on her.
It is a safe place where she believes people are allowed to be open and vulnerable, to make connections and discover their personal needs. It is available for students to let go of their stress surrounding school and work.
She also said at the end, the prayer team writes the retreatants personal letters as to how they have encountered them throughout the weekend.
She said that was one of her favorite parts of attending Pan y Vino.
Naro’s message to those considering signing up either for the upcoming retreat or the February retreat is, “You will surprise yourself if you say yes. You will be amazed what that yes it can. It can really break down a lot of walls that you didn’t even know you had up.”
Anyone can register for the retreat at https://www.aucatholic.org/pan-y-vino. Registration for the fall retreat ends on Sep. 29, 2018.
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