As a freshman, one of the best decisions that I have made was to participate in a retreat specifically designed and geared for freshmen, the Ignite Retreat. The retreat was just around the end of October so I had been at Saint Joe’s for around two months and I was getting settled in academically as well as socially. However for the most part, being on the more shy side, I kept to myself outside of class and in my suite in the Sourin Residence Hall. I wanted to grow spiritually and Ignite was an opportunity for freshmen students to participate in activities and conversations to help them discover how God calls them to live a full and deep life; it was exactly what I was looking for.


An upper classmen had suggested that I go on this retreat and my motto freshmen year was ‘Why not?’ Before I knew it, the weekends flew by and I was boarding a bus filled with  wide-eyed freshmen and enthusiastic upperclassmen leaders. The retreat house was not far away and the ride enabled me to meet and talk to others on the bus.

We were split into small groups of around five to six freshmen and a pair of upperclassmen leading each group. The weekend was just as advertised, filled with activities and conversations to really explore our relationship with God, however it was also so much more than that. In addition to getting closer to God, I was able to get closer with myself and become comfortable with where I was along my spiritual journey. I met some of my best friends on this retreat and to this day I still see many of them in my daily life and we all share a common bond from our weekend on Ignite III.

When deciding to attend a Jesuit University, I knew that I wanted to grow in my faith, my spirituality and my relationship with God. Ignite was able to give me that launching pad to set me up for my career throughout my time at SJU as well as life. Even just allowing for there to be a space to have the discussions that took place on the retreat is important and I am so glad that I was able to take advantage of the experience.




Tony Newton is a junior Risk Management and Insurance major, Ancient Studies minor from North Philadelphia. He is a Placement Liaison with the Service-Learning Program run out of the Faith-Justice Institute as well as Vice-President of the Zeta Iota Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi, the National Honor Co-Ed Fraternity.