Holy Spirit Retreat at American University

Many seminarians and two priests of the Saint John Society are located at their house of studies in Washington, D.C. They run the campus ministry at American University, and several are from Oregon and OSU! Recently they had a Holy Spirit Alpha Retreat on their side of the country; a lot of people from our Newman Center were part of their prayer chain. This is their account of how it went.

A team of 29 students who had never experienced it, and had no idea what to expect brought together something amazing. 79 people attended the first night of the first ever Alpha Course at American University. A simple invitation to start something at AU saw such a quick response to something needed at the campus, a place where there is so little certainty to believe in anything. From my experience of not knowing exactly what religion to believe in and even if I did believe in a religion the outcome would estrange me from my surroundings is a daunting task to overcome.

Having experienced the impactful change of what it meant to pursue something greater in life; it was amazing to see this change beginning to happen in an entirely new situation. All of the same human factors were there in a standard Alpha Night, and as with all Alphas’ you have a little uncertainty of whether or not people will come or even that they will get something from the course. As the retreat was approaching we knew that they would receive a new ingredient in their life on the retreat.

The entire retreat was anointed from beginning to end and by the time the Mass was to begin everyone was in such great anticipation of the Holy Spirit to come. The Mass was amazing. The sun as it was setting was the clock for the Mass. As the Liturgy progressed the sun was a dazzling pink as it was setting. The chapel we were in had a wall completely encased with windows, and showcased the amazing scenery of the Potomac River winding through the hills of Virginia and Maryland. The moment of the consecration was miraculous with the sun being just below the host as the darkened silhouette of Fr. Iván elevated the host. The sunset was magnificent but we saw the living sacrifice as the most beautiful thing we could see. The whole course and retreat had built to this moment and the Holy Spirit without a doubt came in a new way for everyone on the retreat.

After the retreat you could see how the Holy Spirit had truly encountered the hearts of every person that attended the retreat. There was a sense of authenticity in each person where they recognized the difference in him or her. It was no longer I am doing this because I need to change but he has given me a desire to become truly who he wants me to be. The Father’s love had manifested in a personal way. A student said that even with the stunning backdrop the most beautiful thing he saw was when the host was elevated, and he realized for the first that this was the living sacrifice that Christ made for him. This was the beginning of something completely new in DC that we would not see the ends of.

SJS Seminarians