Carpe Diem with a difference

Ashley Barletta, Staff writer

“Carpe Diem” is a phrase that students at Mercyhurst live by and embrace.

Campus Ministry hosts a Carpe Diem retreat once each semester, which helps students connect with one another and explore their lives and Mercyhurst experiences that have shaped them and others.

The retreat will take place this fall, but there will be changes made to accommodate for the Center for Disease Control and university COVID-19 guidelines.

“From Oct. 9 – 10 we will take over the Student Union for this retreat and try to create our own bubble ‘away from campus’ while still physically being here,” said Rachel Sallach, senior Human Resources Management major. She is one of the retreat leaders for Carpe Diem 15.

Typically, 45 students and 10 student leaders attend the retreat that occurs at the Villa Maria Retreat Center, about an hour and a half away from campus. Due to the pandemic, it will be downsized to 25 students and five student leaders.

However, retreatants will still be able to go through the motions of the retreat like before.

“The core content will remain the same, just in a different setting,” said Michelle Scully, Campus Minister.

“I think that it is important that we’re able to still offer this retreat, and offer the opportunity for students to interact with one another in person, so they can form relationships with one another and spend time in a safe and welcoming space.” Throughout the weekend, participants will have small group conversations, play games, tell stories and listen to the stories of their peers, but specifics of the retreat are kept a surprise.

“I truly believe now more than ever is when people may need to take a step back from their semester and every-thing else we have on our plates,” said Sallach.

Even though the retreat will take place on campus, that does not take away from what each student will gain from the experience.

“My friends and I who have been on CD refer to it as ‘the weekend you didn’t know you needed.’ It comes with a lot of laughs and surprises,” said Grace Hapanowicz, senior Early Education and Special Education major.

Hapanowicz will also be a retreat leader.

Grace Siwinski, a senior Early Childhood and Special Education major, has advice as a retreat leader for all those thinking of attending.

“Some advice I would give students who are making the retreat this fall, or anytime in their Mercyhurst careers is to open your mind and heart up for the weekend. Let go of your worries and just enjoy this separate time away from everything else.”

Specific details about the retreat can’t be given because what goes on during Carpe Diem is meant to be a surprise. But students need not worry, as the focus is personal understanding and growth. The retreat is designed for people of all faiths, and people of none.

The deadline to register for the Carpe Diem 15 retreat has sadly already passed, but if you are interested in being added to the CD 15 waitlist, or if you would like information about Carpe Diem 16 in the spring, email Michelle Scully at

There are no specifications for who can register; everyone is welcome to participate.