Reconnecting During SALVE Retreat

September 29, 2022

Lorena Gutierrez reflects on a recent retreat she helped lead through Mission and Ministry

UIW students at Salve Retreat

Each year in the fall semester, University Mission and Ministry offers a SALVE Retreat for UIW students. The weekend is designed to give participants an opportunity for inner reflection and welcome them to the UMM community. Located at a beautiful site in the Texas Hill Country, SALVE provides the ideal getaway to help retreatants pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and, together with others, spread His joy to the world. SALVE is a Catholic-based retreat but is open to all Christian denominations.

Below, Lorena Gutierrez, University Mission and Ministry media intern, shares a reflection on her time as a team leader at the retreat.

As a SALVE Retreat team member and group leader, I had the great opportunity to welcome new and old students to the Tecaboca retreat center and invite them to reflect on their faith journey. During the week, I was able to step back from the busy school week, my work, my stresses and my anxieties. I felt like a participant in the retreat all over again. This was fitting, since the name “salve” means welcome, while the root “sav” is an ointment balm for used healing.

The theme of the retreat was “Your Presence is a Gift.” There were two facets from the title that we discussed during sessions. The first is our presence before God, and His before us. How many times in a single busy and hectic day do we slow ourselves and recognize God’s presence in the joyful and difficult moments? How often do we recognize who is perpetually before us? Do we remember God’s constant presence in the tabernacle in the chapel right on our campus? God’s presence is unceasing, which means that we are never alone. God truly wants to be present to us.

At moments such as Mass and Adoration during the retreat, we presented our hearts to God together as members of the faith, and we sought his presence. We presented ourselves to God by receiving his body and blood, and being in His presence during adoration. “Drawn to You,” a song we sang during Mass, reflected our presence together with God. The lyrics, “Lord we are drawn to you, to the beauty of your presence in this place… God we are here for you, as the gifts we bring become a feast of grace” stood out to me. Each person stepped away from their daily routines to be before God, and to focus on our Creator. “The cross is steady while the world turns” is a quote I instantly remembered.

In being before God, we also were before others. That is the second facet of the retreat theme, that the presence of our friends new and old is a gift; those God has placed in our lives at a specific time. Often, we may recognize in ourselves insecurities hidden in our hearts. Sometimes we may even feel like an outsider. Someone beside us, a friend or stranger, may be feeling the EXACT same way. The simple gift each of us can share, and what we focused on during the retreat, is being fully present to one and other. Offering kindness and friendship, encouragement and positivity to another is so powerful. It is a recognition of the dignity and gift each person, whom God created, truly possesses. And when we first understand our presence is a gift because we were made by God, we are better able to share that love with others.

The retreat made me contemplate how I am able to share my gifts with others, assist, and be present to them. Because of how simple this gesture is, it may sometimes be overlooked in daily routine. But my prayer during the retreat was to share the love I know God has placed in my heart for a reason, and to maintain my new friendships from the retreat.

Overall, I had a beautiful retreat experience. I desperately needed to recharge my mind and heart, to be a better student and child of God. Walking away from the weekend and returning to campus, I brought with me the knowledge that I am never alone – God is constantly present to me, no matter where I may go, and God has blessed me with the gift of each person and retreat participant I met.