After the Hearts Aflame Eucharistic Congress Sept. 22 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, a group of preregistered college students won’t be heading home.

Instead, they will travel to the nearby St. Kateri Tekakwitha National Shrine in Fonda for a spiritual “after-party.” From 2-6 p.m., the group will have a retreat to digest what they learned at the Eucharistic Congress and what it means to them as college students.

“I think a lot of students are not well formed in the Eucharist,” explained Catherine Reid, director of campus ministry for the Diocese. “When we say to them, ‘A Eucharistic Congress is happening,’ a majority say, ‘What does that mean?’”

Ms. Reid said students may lack knowledge “not out of active disinterest,” but because they “just haven’t been exposed to it.”

About 20 students from The University at Albany, Union College in Schenectady and Russell Sage College and Hudson Valley Community College in Troy will attend the Eucharistic Congress as a group with Ms. Reid.

Each fall, a retreat similar to the one after the Eucharistic Congress is planned for colleges in the Diocese. Ms. Reid organized this year’s retreat along with Michelle Thivierge, chaplain at Russell Sage and HVCC, and Dave Stagliano, campus minister at Union College, to accommodate ideas expressed at the Eucharistic Congress.

“Because [the Congress] is so big, we want to give a chance to break it down in a much smaller group,” said Ms. Reid.

She said much of the retreat is being left “open ended” to respond to how students are feeling. Previous fall retreats started with small-group discussions that led into craft activities: “It’s really organic,” she said.

Ms. Reid also hopes to take the students on a nature walk around the grounds of the St. Kateri Shrine. She is bringing art supplies and musical instruments; in past years, she said, students have written poetry or created songs or artwork to express what they’ve learned.

“What I’m looking forward to is the kinds of conversations they haven’t been able to have: those deeply theological discussions that are hard to have on a secular campus,” said Ms. Reid. “I hope this will give them a space to talk about it.”

(Registration for the college retreat is closed. For information on other campus ministry events, contact Ms. Reid at 620-762-6026 or