Spiritual Life department activities promote reflection

Students gather at the Spiritual Life Retreat last year. Photo credit: Courtesy Art

The Baylor Spiritual Life Formation department is putting on a series of events over the course of the spring semester, including a mission trip to Ireland, meetings and workshops and two retreats – one over spring break and one in early April.

“The goal of the retreat itself is the same of providing students with an opportunity to reflect and kind of rest a little bit from the semester and kind of begin thinking, ‘What are my summer plans and how will that affect the decisions I make and how is that influencing what I’m doing right now?” Billy Baker, graduate apprentice for spiritual formation retreats and training, said. “It’s a way to think, ‘Let’s reflect on this past fall and almost entire spring semester. What have I done, how is this influencing me, how is this shaping me and what does my faith look like,’ and providing them with practices to begin reflecting and thinking on those things.”

Kristen Richardson, director for formation and associate chaplain, listed the first-and-second year student retreat, spring break trip, Youth Ministry Team events, Enneagram workshops and a mission trip to Ireland as highlights for the spring semester.

Last year, the first and second year student retreat was hosted as a winter retreat at Balcones Springs in Austin. Serving as a more low maintenance option, this year’s retreat will take place April 1 and 2 at the Eastland Lakes Challenge Course.

At the retreat, different spiritual practices will take place, including larger group practices and giving students opportunities to spread out on their own and think, “What does it look like for me to do something of that nature?” Baker said.

“It’s really just building some community, but also giving students the opportunity to kind of reflect on their life and see, ‘What is my purpose, what is my meaning in this and where do I want to be at and am I doing things that are helping me get there?’” Baker said.

The Spring Break Retreat to go to Big Bend National Park will take place from the Friday before spring break and to the Tuesday afternoon of spring break. Students will stay in a small town near Big Bend and do activities such as hiking and reflections. This retreat will also feature an opportunity to explore Marfa and stargaze at the McDonald Observatory operated by The University of Texas. Baker said this provides the chance for students to see the vastness of what God has given them, and talk and reflect on that. According to Baker, this is another restful and reflective opportunity, although it is a shorter retreat.

“I think Baylor does a really good job promoting reflection for students, but at the same time it doesn’t teach students how to do that really well,” Baker said. “The reason this continues to carry on is because we are intentionally teaching and providing the opportunity for students to reflect and to grow with one another, to be transformed and to find a formative experience during their time at Baylor while thinking about the spiritual under faith.”

Joshua Ritter, assistant director for the department of formation in the Office of Spiritual Life, said there are many other events besides the two retreats for students to get involved in. There are cross cultural dinners every Tuesday night in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center that partner with multicultural affairs and the Center for Global Engagement to talk about religious literacy by using storytelling.

BU Better Together is an interfaith group that has recently grown rapidly, focusing currently on helping the refugee crisis. Ritter said the Youth Ministry Teams are groups of students that have a passion for youth ministry. This program gives a variety of training by putting students on a team where each person has a role. The mission trip to Ireland is a part of the Formation department, specifically with the Youth Ministry Teams. More information can be found online.

“This is a great opportunity for students still passionate about youth ministry and who are now in college,” Ritter said. “Cross cultural is great for students who are very interested in cultures and other people’s stories and different backgrounds.”

Ritter said Enneagram workshops are similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in that it can help render a better understanding of a particular personality. However, according to the Baylor Spiritual Life website, the Enneagram is a personality-type system that can be used as a tool for spiritual discernment and growth. There are nine personality types according to the test. Ritter said this tool can promote a deeper understanding of how a student interacts with the community and world, as well as how a student interacts with God. The workshop gives information about Enneagram and tells students their personality type.

Any questions about the retreats can be sent via email to Baker, or students can visit the Bobo Spiritual Life Center to inquire about events mentioned above.