| By Maureen Kenney |

Rigorous coursework, involvement demands, and pressure to build-up resumes result in the busy students whom Erin Smith encounters as the Coordinator of Campus Ministry at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center in Des Moines, Iowa. It seems in reverse logic then, that Smith and her ministry team attempt to target students with a retreat when their time is least available.

“…They’ve just had midterms; they’re preparing for the holidays; this isn’t a good time to catch them,” said Smith.

It may not be the best time to catch the students, but it is the perfect time to hold the annual Busy Student Retreat in Smith’s mind.

“They’re too busy not to go,” said Smith.

Members of the St. Catherine of Siena Student Center Ministry Team are (l-r): Evan Beranek, Luke Kubic, Brianna Intrieri and Mandy Nossaman. Kubic and Intrieri are FOCUS missionaries.

Last fall, the Busy Student Retreat consisted of four days of half-hour, one-on-one sessions of spiritual direction administered by diocesan priests or religious followed by personal reflection. On the final day of the retreat, students participated in a candlelight Mass said by the center’s pastor, Father Mark Owusu.

“It’s really an invitation to for some personal spiritual direction that’s at the students pace and tailored to where they are and what they’re seeking,” said Smith.

Esther Lwakabamba is a first-year law student at Drake University Law School who took up the opportunity to attend the Busy Student Retreat.

“I think, more than anything, I came out realizing that God is a priority and that I will always be busy. This type of event really makes us [students] take a moment to pause, reprioritize, and refocus on God which will ultimately help us be successful in other areas,” said Lwakabamba.

The center will continue its efforts to target busy students with future retreats. “It’s exciting to help support them while they’re busy becoming whom God created them to be,” said Smith.

The St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center received a $6,705 grant from the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa to fund its expenses related to the Busy Student Retreat. If your organization is interested in grant opportunities please visit https://catholicfoundationiowa.org/grant-opportunities/ for more details.