“I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God […] for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1: 6-7).
Saint Paul’s Outreach is rich with many elements that characterize our life in Christ; households, relational evangelization, and community are all staples that make us...us. And another staple is the Fan into Flame (FIF) retreat that SPO puts on throughout the nation. During this retreat, students and missionaries alike are able to re-encounter the fundamental truths of our faith and “fan into flame” the great gift of the Holy Spirit that God first gave us at our Baptism. The retreat begins with a recognition of our own sin and Jesus’ saving work in his death and resurrection. The key of the retreat, however, is that the good news does not end there. Jesus also sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and this is the capstone of the retreat: praying that the Holy Spirit may deepen his presence in our hearts and send us out to share the richness of life in Christ. Doesn't that sound awesome? Though FIF is a staple of SPO, every campus has a different reality of what this looks like. Each chapter is in a different place and how they introduce this new outpouring of the Holy Spirit depends on where the students are at and how we are integrating with Campus Ministries across the country. In regards to the Florid Region, read all about our Spring retreats below!
University of Central Florida (UCF):
UCF's Spring Retreat was called Revive and was an opportunity to "renew, revive, restore us, Oh Lord." This phrase was a constant refrain throughout the time of praise and worship on retreat. The team of missionaries and Campus Ministry staff focused the retreat on being witnesses of forgiveness and a personal encounter with Christ. The following excerpts are from students who attended the Revive Retreat!
My name is Andrew Llovet. I am from Miami, Florida and I am a second year student at UCF. Coming from an all men’s private catholic high school I struggled trying to find the concept of brotherhood. During CCM’s retreat I feel like I have found a home and a new brotherhood.
My name is Christina Vazquez, and I am a senior at UCF studying English and Political Science. Revive was my eighth and final CCM retreat, and I definitely entered into the retreat feeling scared about the uncertainties of post-graduation life. However, the Lord came in power over the weekend and helped me open my eyes to these fears of the future. Through my small group and prayer, the Lord showed me that I needed to put to death these fears, and let go f ocontrol, so I can fully trust in His Divine Providence. Since retreat I have been able to embrace the unknown, knowing full well that Christ will be with me through this new season of change in my life!
Growing up, my relationship with the lord has always been superficial. Joining CCM here at UCF, was the first time I ever found myself wanting to go to church, and going to the Revive retreat was the first time I ever truly encountered the lord and his power. Please believe me when I tell you that there are no words that will live up to how amazing it felt to be in his presence. Before attending the retreat, I struggled to value myself and everything in my life. I can definitely say that I was lost. And then I come to this welcoming, loving and crazy (in the best kind of way) group of people that showed me that there is so much more to life than what our materialistic society portrays there to be. A new life, I will give you says the lord; that is what this retreat has given me, and I cannot wait to immerse myself into this incredible community and build my relationship with God. (Lydia is a first year student and this was her first CCM retreat)
UCF: Fan into Flame
UCF currently does not have a Fan into Flame retreat, but a few UCF missionaries had the opportunity to bring five students Ohio’s Fan into Flame Retreat (FIF). The following is passage is written by a UCF missionary. The hope is to bring the new outpouring of the Holy Spirit back to the campus and continue to build a transformational people.
It was heartening to be welcomed the second we stepped off the plane in Columbus by students from SPO’s Ohio State chapter. The retreat itself was also powerful for our students as they asked for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to change their own hearts and to help them be on mission and share Christ’s love with the world. We pray and are working towards bringing this great retreat experience to Florida and thank you for your support as we continue to share the power of the Holy Spirit with the next generation. -by Andrew Olsen
Florida State University: Limitless
-Coronavirus: All of our Spring Break mission trips were cancelled due to taken precautions against corona virus. In addition, classes have been moved to online and many students have returned home to be with family. Please pray for our students and staff as we navigate how to best care for students in the mission. May we continue to lean into Christ as our hope and strength during this time that seems dark and anxious.
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation" -Isiah 12:2
Thank you for your prayers for my recent visit to the University of Southern Florida (USF) on February 10th-12th. It is exciting to see how God is moving in and through this campus! For this visit, I was able to attend their Women’s Night, which is a weekly campus ministry event dedicated for ladies to come together and grow in their faith and sisterhood. Each event is led by a student leader and this past year I’ve been walking with the women’s night student leader. Before my visit she asked me to give a talk and I was able to share about “Living Deep Relationships.” Living deep relationships is the bread and butter of our mission with Saint Paul’s Outreach. It is also a part of the reason why SPO and campus ministries across the country partner together on college campuses. Events and retreats spark the faith, but the culture and relationships formed outside of the events and retreats are what pulls people deeper towards Christ.
That being said, for the talk I was able to present to the ladies an invitation to follow Christ more deeply in their lives, but an encouragement to not do it alone! Much like running a marathon, we can’t run this race by ourselves expecting to reach the finish line. To finish the race victoriously we need to sacrifice how we spend our time, who we hangout with, what we commit ourselves to, and when we choose to train. In order to train well, there is a vision for that training, which impacts our daily life and builds a culture. During the race, we have a pack of people running tn front of us, beside us, and behind us. All of this is a current pulling us towards the finish line while the fans are cheering us on the sideline. This is our Christian faith! This is our pilgrimage journey towards our eternal home! We need people to accompany us on the journey to challenge, encourage, support and guide us. We all want to make it to the finish line and bring as many people there with us.
At the end of the talk we had a discussion about how to do this. How do we embrace the people God’s placing in our life to journey with, regardless of whether or not we “click” with them? How do we choose to live daily life with those people who support and encourage us in our faith? It was such a joy to see women who were fired up at the thought of grabbing meals, working out, and studying with other women in the community. On a college campus, it is easy to live an isolated life and get into a groove of life by yourself. It cannot be assumed anymore that people know how to build and live deep relationships. The most important relationship is with God, but flowing from that is a heart to love others and invite into this full life with Christ.
Overall, it’s been a joy to be a part of supporting the USF Campus Ministry in Tampa. A little bit more about them, the campus ministry at USF is called the Catholic student Union and consists of one women’s campus minister and one priest. They are certainly outgrowing their resources with the amount of students that are becoming involved in the ministry. It has been a joy to help support the campus ministry staff this past year as they seek to build up a community of students who are hungering to grow in relationship with Christ. That being said, there is a hope of sending an SPO team in the Fall of 2021. However, there is much work to be done in order for a team to come into. Please pray for me as I discern continuing to serve and help with the pioneering and expanding process at USF this upcoming year! It’s an exciting and privileged offer, but pray that I may say “yes” to where God is leading.
Support Raising Solutions Conference, Arizona
Hello Supporters! Hope and pray this post finds you well! Thank you so much for your prayers these past few weeks and for all my travels! I spent two weeks traveling for SPO and the first stop was Arizona where I attended a Support Raising Solutions (SRS) conference. Saint Paul's Outreach sends a handful of people in the ministry to attend this conference in order to better serve and care for missionaries. Though my primary responsibility is serving the Florida region, I also serve nationally with SPO through various responsibilities, including an Mission Partner Development (MPD) coach. An MPD coach helps to support and walk with our new and veteran missionaries in their efforts of support raising (a.k.a fundraising). It is such a gift and blessing to invite supporters into this mission through partnering spiritually and financially. However, this can be one of the most challenging obstacles for many missionaries. Support raising is countercultural and there is a huge need for support and encouragement. My job as a MPD coach is to support missionaries in their walk in building a strong support team that will allow them to be fully present on the college campus they are sent to.
There were over 300 missionaries from across the world at this conference. It was a huge witness to me to see many of these missionaries were over 40 and had been raising support for 20 plus years! It was an incredible witness to see their commitment to the mission, but also the faithfulness and provision of the Lord. In addition, it was incredible to be in unity and fellowship with other Christian missionaries. I had many encouraging conversations during meal times with missionaries from all different Christian denominations, which uplifted both of us! The Father longs for us to "all be one" and it was so unifying to be together in worship and fellowship throughout the week!
Alex Mason: Senior, University of St. Thomas
Below is a testimony from Alex, who is a senior at the University of St. Thomas. It is beautiful to hear how the Lord worked in her life through this retreat!
Read below to check it out:
"It is incredible when over 150+ college students come together to seek the Lord, because it is impossible for these students not to leave changed. When 150+ college students are gathered together seeking the Lord, the Holy Spirit does come down with great power, changing lives. I know this, because I experienced this on November 19th, while I was on the SPO Formation Retreat. It is here, that I was encouraged and received great wisdom through talks reminding me, in the words of Father Phillip, that, “the essence of Catholicism is relationship.” And after being reminded of our call as Christians, my eyes were opened to how I was experiencing God all around me through my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ on this retreat.
While the retreat was coming to a close, small groups came together and prayed for one another. When I was being prayed for I experienced God in my small group in a special way through my dear sisters’ in Christ. While one of my friends placed her hands on me, she said “Alex, you are walking as Queen Esther with dignity and strength, and as Queen Esther you have a kingdom, but it is not of this world.” Awh, wow, I experienced God in her. My spirit was moved. My life was changed. It has now been almost two weeks since the retreat and through that night I have come to realize that we are all royalty. I am now reminded each day that similar to Queen Esther who was chosen by the king, by name, the King of kings has chosen me by name, and has chosen you by name, to be royalty. And it is as royalty that we walk this earth. I have come to realize that this has huge implications on our lives. I have found out that knowing that my title as royalty is not only given by the King of Kings, but can also only be taken away by the King of kings changes things. This is because, God never ever wants to take our title away as royalty, because He loves us so so much. Therefore, if I am walking on this earth as royalty and I know who gives me my title, I am going to go to God for my identity and not to others. This has given me so much freedom to walk in this world, but not of it. Also, as royalty, I now realize, that there is a sense of responsibility we have. I love and care for those in the kingdom, because as royalty I love this kingdom as the King Himself does. The Holy Spirit came and changed my life on this retreat through my relationship with others and I know He did for others as well. Thank you Lord, Jesus."
Happy Advent Support Team!
I love Advent-it's a time to step back from the business of our lives and to reflect. To reflect on how we are living our lives and what areas Christ is wanting to come into more fully. He was born in a humble, messy manager and there is no area of our life that is too messy for Him! May we receive Christ into our hearts more fully this Chrsitmas and allow Him to bring a deeper joy, peace, and freedom in our lives through the gift of His incarnation!
Duing the SPO formation retreat, our students experienced a deeper freedom through a deeper encounter with Christ. The retreat was on November 19th and took place at Our Lady of Grace in Edina, MN. I thought I could tell you about it, but wouldn't it be better to hear a students' experience of how the Lord worked on this retreat?