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“The greatest way to spend time this side of heaven”

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Students at the UTS Start of Year Retreat for 2019 at Hartzer Park. PHOTO: Supplied

A group of Catholic students at UTS began their 2019 university year by spending a weekend away with God.

The UTS Student Retreat was held from 29 to 31 March at the picturesque Hartzer Park, a two hour drive south-west of Sydney.

Team Leader at UTS’s Catholic Chaplaincy, Grace Nichols, said it was a “grace-filled weekend” as the students listened to talks from Fr Dave Callaghan MGL and spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

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Eucharistic adoration was a highlight of the student retreat, according to participants. PHOTO: Supplied

“Eucharistic adoration, the greatest devotion in the tradition of the Roman Church was the highlight of the retreat for me,” student Phillip Brooks said.

“To kneel in the presence of almighty God, invoking all the saints through the chanted litany, and to be immersed in his great love is the greatest way to spend time this side of heaven,” he added.

Ms Nichols said the aim of the retreat was to give students the opportunity to come together at the beginning of the academic year “to grow in community and receive solid formation; to support and encourage each other in the faith and to enrich their love for God.”

The students listened to talks which helped to form them in the faith. PHOTO: Supplied

“God’s timing is perfect,” said retreat participant, Monica Axiak. “The Start of Year Retreat took place at the time my study commitments were starting to intensify, and when I was questioning my place in the culture of academic research as a conservative practising Catholic.”

“The retreat was a beautiful experience which helped me, once again, put my faith and mission into perspective.”

Fr Callaghan addressed the students on various topics including the difference between the Christian view of salvation and the secular view of salvation, the resurrection, the lay vocation, and the beauty of the Christian vision of practical love.

Krystie Alfaro said she was pleasantly surprised by the weekend after joining the retreat out of “curiosity.”

As well as helping them draw closer to the Lord, the retreat also provided an opportunity for the students to spend time getting to know each other. PHOTO: Supplied

“I met amazing people who inspired me to live out my faith and I learnt different teachings that helped me gain an understanding of Catholicism in our modern day world,” she said.

Meanwhile, Annalise Lisboa said she particularly appreciated the all-night Eucharistic adoration and the talks which challenged her.

“The retreat was a beautiful getaway with God, growing in our faith through individual prayer and community.”

Ms Nichols said the Mercy Night was a standout event during the retreat which began with adoration, the sacrament of Confession and Benediction. It continued with all-night adoration.

“Adoring Jesus in the candle-lit chapel with beautiful music and finishing imploring the saints for their intercession was truly special,” she said.

“The all-night adoration also gave the students a unique opportunity to pray before Our Lord one on one in the silent hours of the night.”

“There is a special joy the following morning after having had all-night adoration, and I dare say a beautiful glow radiating on everyone’s faces.”

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