Catholic students on Samford University’s campus are preparing for the eighth edition of the Alabama Awakening religious retreat at Springville Camp and Conference Center in Springville, Alabama, on Oct. 26-28.
Alabama Awakening occurs two times every year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Sign-ups for this year’s fall retreat attracted college students from schools including but not limited to Samford, Auburn, Alabama, Troy, UAB, Mississippi and Mississippi State. Perhaps most importantly, any individual from any faith background can participate in the retreat.
During last spring’s seventh edition of Alabama Awakening, which began on April 13, 43 retreaters from across the states of Alabama and Mississippi attended the three-day retreat in order to deepen their spiritual relationship with Jesus. This number can be compared to the number of attendees in previous Awakening retreats, which ranged from 11 to 33.
The Awakening administration and leadership seeks to help all attendees grow in the knowledge and love of the Catholic faith. According to its website, Alabama Awakening is defined as “a retreat for college-aged young adults, run by students, for students.”
Although the location of the retreat changes each year, the setting this fall is in Springville. According to its website, Springville Camp and Conference Center is “the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” Located at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, and only 25 minutes outside of Birmingham, it serves as a location that promotes spiritual renewal, peace and enjoyment.
The retreat provides all Samford students with the unique opportunity to attend the event under the leadership of a fellow Bulldog and Samford Catholic Student Association President, Becca Weatherford. Weatherford, a junior at Samford, said she is “excited for Alabama Awakening VIII because it is an opportunity to meet Catholics throughout the Southeast and to experience Christ’s love in a tangible way.”
The retreat itself is comprised of a variety of events and speeches. Students are not permitted to be in possession of their phones, watches, or other technological devices all weekend. In addition, they do not receive any schedule or outline of time to inform them when various events take place. Students take this weekend to focus on their faith while not becoming distracted by technological disruptions or the world around them.
Many of this year’s attendees have previously been involved with former editions of Alabama Awakening such as Erin Prester, a junior at Samford.
“I’m excited for Awakening this fall because it is an opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones while experiencing Christ’s presence in our lives in a new and beautiful way,” Prester said.
As an Awakening returnee, Prester said she looks forward to sharing her experiences of the last two years with all Awakening newcomers.
Some Samford students are attending the retreat for the very first time this fall and are anxious for the festivities such as Elizabeth Harris, a junior at Samford.
“I’m excited to meet students from other campuses and to get plugged into a wider community of Catholics,” Harris said.
Gunnar Sadowey, Contributing Writer