This fall’s Approach Retreat will mark the 37th in a long-standing tradition here are Xavier.  As a college student, life can get pretty chaotic.  Approach serves as a break which that allows you to deepen the intentionality of how you live your life.  The goal of the retreat is not simply to “escape” your life, but to reinvigorate your approach to life so you can authentically enter back into the world as a better version of yourself.

The most beautiful thing about the retreat is that it is rooted in stories—the stories of the team leaders, the stories of the retreatants, and the stories of those we have come in contact with throughout our lives, who have helped shape us into the people we are today.  In fact, the retreat can be thought of as a way to reflect on how you “approach” your life, and how you do so with a God that loves you & wants to be a part of your story.

Each Approach retreat is structurally the same; the style might even remind you of popular high school retreats such as Kairos, Search, or TEC.  However, each particular retreat is uniquely different & distinctively life-giving for the people who attend.  I have had the privilege of attending the last seven retreats and have found something remarkably distinctive about each.

Throughout the entire weekend, all attendees (students and staff) are brought together to journey towards a loving & forgiving God who calls us to love ourselves & each other.  Students usually find that there is something very simple, yet very difficult in this experience.  The crucial question becomes: “How can we bring this back?”  The culminating talks & prayer service help bridge this gap, challenging students to passionately & fearlessly live authentic lives.

After experiencing seven Approach retreats, I can honestly say I still get excited for them.  It is a great way to invest time so you can deepen your commitment to yourself, to others & to God.  Having the privilege to see students devote their weekends to reflect on how to do that is a great gift of my role at Xavier.


Tim Dunn is the Assistant Director of Faith & Ministry at the CFJ.  Tim has spent the better part of his life in Jesuit institutions, first at St. X High School is Cincinnati, before heading up north to do both undergrad and graduate work at John Carroll.  There, he met his better half, Haley (well, to be fair, it is just some of the students who hang around here who says she is the better half–you know who you are). Tim is always willing to talk any sport–please bring him condolences about the Reds failed playoff attempt.