Senior Keystone and Retreat

Arranging the pieces, finding what holds

Yearning for a community that goes deeper – spiritually, ethically and vocationally?  Seeking a conversation that can hold your many identities and experiences all in place?  Wanting a space that will engage the anxiety of transition as an opportunity to discover the fullness of self? 

The Senior Keystone provides seniors a space to ask bigger questions with peers and join together their academics with questions of meaning and purpose to encourage both their theological mind and ethical practice. This community meets throughout senior year and culminates with a retreat during Spring break. They then bring their insights to other seniors by hosting three conversations for their class on questions they believe all seniors should be asking amidst their transition out of college.

The Senior Keystone integrates ethical, spiritual and philosophical questions with a student's full identity through:

  • Thinking about the meaning of seniors' experience with Macalester liberal arts education.
  • Exploration of ethical questions surrounding responsible human engagement.
  • Development of spiritual practices to apply to post-graduation transition.
  • Integration of identities through reflection on lived experience.
  • Discovery of how one's academic disciplines connect with bigger questions of meaning and purpose.

Program Structure

Leaders and students alike bring personal and ultimate questions to the circle along with important writings and materials that have aided them in negotiating such questions. These are the questions that drive to the heart of students' education, life and future. All participants in the program practice staying close to questions that are personal to remain open and vibrant during this senior transition.

Second semester Keystone students will host three gatherings open to the senior class that will feature questions that have come out of their own conversations.  Students will facilitate timely dialogue with their peers that engage both the dilemmas and openings that emerge in times of transition and vocational discernment.

Program Details

  • Applications are usually open in June.
  • Seniors are nominated by others or self-nominate.
  • The community meets every other Tuesday evening from 4:45-6:15 throughout senior year. Snacks and beverages are provided.
  • An early Fall overnight retreat will bring the community together.
  • The Spring break trip takes place Monday-Thursday of Spring break and is a mandatory component.
  • The group hosts and facilitates three gatherings after Spring break for all seniors revolving around big questions that they believe are on the minds of their peers.
  • Student attendance at all of the gatherings is crucial for community building and continuous dialogue.
  • The group is facilitated by Rabbi Barry Cytron and Eily Marlow.

If you have questions or want more information, please email Eily Marlow at or call 651-696-6738.

Keystone: 1. The wedge-shaped piece at the summit of an arch, other pieces in place. 2. Something on which associated things depend.


Quotes from recent Senior Keystones

  • "Because we are entering into a space of many unknowns after graduation, it was important for us to look to the greater spiritual knowledge held inside ourselves. We looked within to re-examine powerful moments of destabilization, realization, and connectivity within our time at Macalester, to discover instances in which we have known without knowing.”
  • “Keystone led me to examine the ways in which I make decisions–whether by head, heart or gut. Looking to all of these sources of knowledge is important in living an integrated life.”
  • “I would tell any junior that the Keystone experience is at once grounding and formative. The promise of intentional community is something not offered most other places on campus and allows for connection with peers on a new and deeper level.”
  • “I felt that the intentional community provided through the senior keystone was centering during my senior year, which has been hectic and confusing. Themes addressed, such as mbracing vulnerability and staying connected with loved ones despite distance, helped me grapple with uncertainties and challenges I face as I move towards graduation. The programming also provided a space to be heard and to hear others, which can often get lost in the bustle of classes and work."

summer lilly residents