Campus Ministry ends Manresa reunion tradition at O’Rielly’s

Olivia Shackleton, Campus Editor

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John Scarano, director of Campus Ministry, sent an email on April 11 saying that the Manresa retreat reunion will no longer occur at O’Rielly’s Pub, due to the pressure that students feel to drink.

Following the weekend long retreat, students who attended Manresa in the past  have a tradition of gathering at O’s to reflect on their experiences, share stories and relive memories.

Scarano stated in the email, “This came about when a student told me that they were not interested in Manresa because they don’t drink. When I asked about this, the student said that ‘it comes with the territory.’”

According to various students, going to O’s following the Manresa retreat is a cherished tradition that does not equate to drinking. “From what I’ve known from my past four years here, it seemed like every Manresa group went to O’s afterward. I saw it as an opportunity to have a gathering,” said Kaleigh Golamb ‘19.

“O’s has always been a Carroll place where students go to meet each other and have a place to go. Whether people drink or not, well there are decisions you have to make in college and that is up to the individual,” continued Golamb.

Alumnus Ryan Brown, a Manresa retreatant and leader, explained, “I would say it definitely is a tradition, and a great one at that. I really don’t think there was any pressure to drink, and if people did feel pressure to drink I think they misunderstood the point of going to O’s after the weekend. The point was not the drinking, it was the fellowship.

“After such an amazing weekend, no one wants it to end, and being able to all gather in one place, with not just the people from your retreat but with people from past retreats as well, is really, really special,” he continued. “I also think there was something cool about going to O’s because there were no John Carroll staff members there, not that we all don’t love the JCU Campus Ministry staff, but the fact that you had a large group of kids meet off campus, solely because they wanted to, and they weren’t forced to go, I think that was an important part of the tradition.”

Jacob Schupp, co-leader of M38, explained, “I know after M30 and M34, I got back to my room and just kept thinking that I couldn’t wait to see everyone again at mass, and I know that many others feel the same way.”

In the April 11 email, Scarano explained that the M38 leadership team had agreed to not attend any post-Manresa activities at O’s and said all future leaders of the retreat would be expected to make that commitment as well. If the reunion tradition continues, Scarano said the Manresa retreat will take a two-year hiatus.

“When I saw that the O’Rielly’s tradition was apparently so much of an issue that if it continued, Campus Ministry would not put on the retreat for two years, it broke my heart, and I know I can speak for a lot of Manresa alums when I say that. I simply cannot imagine a John Carroll without Manresa, and a two-year break would significantly alter the Manresa program, so much so that I fear it would never recover,” stated Brown.

Alumnus Tipton Woodard commented, “I understand Campus Ministry’s potential concerns. However, they should not have held the future of the retreat over the heads of students who would have liked to spend their own time together off campus.”

“I think the decision to hold the retreat hostage and give an ultimatum to students was in poor taste, and it could have been handled more maturely,” said Woodard.

Scarano explained that the message of the Manresa retreat is what should be focused on. “Our Manresa retreat is an introduction to the First Principle and Foundation of Ignatian spirituality, with a focus on providing students an opportunity to explore some of life’s big questions in greater depth,” said Scarano.

“To provide a safe atmosphere for reflection and inclusivity, Campus Ministry has made a thoughtful and deliberate decision to make sure that Manresa activities are not in any way associated with the consumption of alcohol.”

Although leaders of M38 agreed to forego the tradition of O’s following the retreat, the team and retreatants still had a wonderful experience. Schupp said, “I would definitely encourage people to not only attend Manresa but also sign up to be a team member/co-leader because it is so transformative in ways that can’t be put into words. I have been fortunate to experience so much during my time at John Carroll, but my time with the Manresa retreat is something that is just so different from everything else.”