ACTS travels to state park

December 18, 2008

by Amy Olita

This past weekend, 30 students from the Association of Catholic Tech Students traveled to Jimmie Davis State Park for their annual retreat.

Rose Serio, campus minister for ACTS, said they go to state parks every December because it allows the organization to feel closer to God.

“The students get to know each other better while staying focused on Christ, especially being so close to Christmas,” Serio said.

The theme of this year’s retreat was “Be Not Afraid,” Serio said.

Alex Marquardt, a sophomore electrical engineering major and ACTS student leader, said Dr. Sean Teats, Tech’s chorus director, and Dr. Holly Wilson, a philosophy professor from ULM, spoke to the students about being courageous and surviving the struggles of life.

Marquardt said students wrote a burden on a piece of paper, taped it to a rock, carried the rock with them for the rest of the day and then threw the burden rock into the bonfire that night.

“Throwing our rocks into the fire symbolizes our need to let go of our burdens and offer them up to God,” Marquardt said.

Marquardt also said the most amazing part of the trip happened after the bonfire when the students returned to their lodges.

“The women thought the campfire was left unattended,” Marquardt said. “But, because they couldn’t leave their lodge, they prayed that God would protect them and make sure everyone was kept safe.”

Marquardt said around the same time the women were praying, the men began worrying about the fire, too, and returned to find the fire had reignited, and they extinguished it before it could spread.

Mark Pellittieri, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said he was surprised by everyone’s excitement to be there and talk about their faith.

“It was spiritually uplifting; listening to the speakers’ stories was really an eye-opener,” Pellittieri said.

Hilary Whaley, secretary of ACTS and a sophomore elementary education major, helped organize the retreat this year because she said she wanted to help others get the same experience she did last year and bring them closer to God.

“I looked forward to the trip all week,” Whaley said.

She also said they had mass Friday and Saturday night, speakers throughout the weekend, small group discussions, games and alone time for prayer and reflection.

“The private time to pray is my favorite part of retreats,” Whaley said. “This is a time where I can reconnect with God and strengthen our relationship.”