Just as the leaves in the Hudson Valley are about to hit their peak, Campus Ministry is organizing a weekend retreat to Goshen, New York, for Fordham students who identify as spiritual and LGBTQ.
“We want to affirm to all our students that they are loved, and they are recognized for who they authentically are,” said John Gownley, assistant director of church operations and special events.
While the retreat, which runs from Nov. 12 to 14, qualifies as a special event, Gownley noted that Campus Ministry regularly provides resources for LGBTQ students to deepen their spirituality on campus as they navigate their identity and sexuality.
But the retreat, known as the Prism Retreat, is decidedly off campus, said Chloe McGovern, a senior at Lincoln Center and the student director for the event.
“We’ll leave together from the McGinley Center and our Ram Van drivers are also retreat leaders, so they’ll pick the music, and we’ll have a jam session on the way there,” said McGovern.
McGovern declined to provide an itinerary of the trip, noting that the whole point was for students to put their phones down and let the weekend unfold before them. She said the retreat leaders will take care of the cooking and run the activities. There will also be time set aside for students to be alone and take in the natural surroundings.
“We’re creating a safe space where queer identity and spirituality come together, and you can hold those two identities together,” she said. “It’s not strictly religious, but we’ll offer times to connect spiritually through meditation, queer-friendly prayers, and through sharing.”
McGovern said that in the past the Prism retreat helped students struggling with self-acceptance and self-love, but this retreat will focus more on happiness and positive experiences of being true to oneself.
“We’ve had discussions dedicated to negative queer experiences, and we’ll still deal with that, but we’re just saying that the way we want to lead this retreat is to focus on positive ways that LGBTQ people are living their lives and on queer joy.”
McGovern said that for some the retreat will culminate upon return to campus when the vans arrive in time for 5:00 p.m. Mass at the University Church. But she underscored that the spiritual aspect of the retreat is open to students of all faiths and spiritual expressions.
“A lot of our retreat leaders often lead a prayer by saying, ‘Please approach the divine in any way you see fit. I’ll be approaching the divine through my own faith background and how I’m comfortable; I hope you will too.’”