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In March, about 20 Newmanites headed over to Yakima, Washington on our annual Alternative Spring Break Trip for 6 days. Throughout the week, the students helped with two organizations, La Casa Hogar, and Volunteer Chore Services (VCS.) La Casa Hogar is an organization that serves migrant women in the community. There are English and computer classes available to the students, as well as childcare, and most importantly, a supportive and positive community for the women to grow together in. Among many different things, the students helped the women practice English, helped with the daycare, and participated in crafts with them. Some of the women who go through this program come back year after year, and form a bond with the students that come.
As for the weekly schedule, the students started their day off bright and early with daily mass and then split up into two groups. One group worked with the migrant women and the other group volunteered through Volunteer Chore Services, a program run by Catholic Community Services. VCS helps the elderly and disabled members of the community with chores and other assistance necessary to help them maintain their independence. In the afternoon, the entire group reconvened for lunch at La Casa Hogar and continued working with VCS. The students were able to help about 40 people with a variety of tasks anywhere from yard work to cleaning bathrooms.
Not only did the Spring Break trip give students a chance to serve as Christ served, they were also able to grow with the community and with each other. Throughout the week, after a hard day of work,, the students spent some evenings in fellowship visiting families of Newmanites for dinner.
Helping the elderly with their chores gave the students an opportunity to form relationships with those they served. There were some clients that students had met in past years whom they were able to revisit. Although there was a lot of work involved, it was still a very restful experience because it gave students a chance to share and receive joy.
On February 20th over 65 Newmanites headed to the Lakeview Christian Retreat Center in Auburn for the annual SEARCH retreat. The retreat this year, titled Chronicles of Search, was fashioned after C.S Lewis’ timeless biblical allegory “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Guided by the Peer Ministers, Bayli and a fantastic team of retreat leaders, the SEARCHers were led into the magical world of Narnia on a weekend long retreat intended to bring them to a better understanding of themselves, each other, and God.
SEARCH is one of the most interesting events that Newman holds because it is a well-kept secret. No one really knows what goes on at SEARCH except for people who have been on the retreat before, and you can only go one time because it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The impact of SEARCH is better felt when it is filled with wonderful surprises, although this does make it hard to describe in a public place such as this. What can be said is that SEARCH is powerful, life changing, and unforgettable. It is an important milestone in many participants’ faith lives, often handing them tools to better integrate God into their lives as busy college students. The undergraduates who participate in the SEARCH retreat are a part of the future of the Church and our faith. That’s why it is so beautiful that they are given an opportunity like SEARCH to grow more confident in that faith that they are handed to grow and transform with.
The Chronicles of Search 2015 was a success in many ways. We hope that this years’ group of fabulous SEARCHers will continue to be a part of Newman’s vibrant community, sharing in God’s love and the magic of SEARCH together for the rest of their undergraduate career, and into the future as well.