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A group of stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in the fall break Soul Care Retreat at St. Augustine’s House in Oxford, Michigan for a time of rest and med­i­tation. Regan Meyer | Col­legian

“Prayer, rest, and quiet”: it’s what the Soul Care Retreat offered and, stu­dents said, it delivered.

The retreat, orga­nized by college chaplain Father Adam Rick and Director of Health and Wellness Brock Lutz, was held at St. Augustine’s House in Oxford, Michigan. St. Augustine’s House is a Lutheran monastery that follows the order of Bene­dictine monks.

“It was an oppor­tunity for stu­dents to just take Sabbath and stop with the dis­trac­tions that nor­mally occupy them here,” Father Rick said. “We don’t enforce this, but we strongly encourage stu­dents not to bring homework with them, not to have their phones with them. To just put the screens away and enter as fully as they can into the daily rhythm of the monastery.”

Rick and Lutz first orga­nized a similar retreat last spring, the week after Easter, and the turnout was so good that they decided to do repeat it.

“When I came here, I wanted to do it,” Rick said. “I was kind of new here and dis­cov­ering the rhythm of things. I became friends with Brock and he men­tioned this monastery and sug­gested we try and take some stu­dents. We just put it out there, sent out an email, and we were full within 48 hours, and we even had a little bit of a waitlist.”

Lutz and Rick took nine stu­dents to the retreat center this time around.

“I think it is a great intro­duction into what is does look like to introduce silence and retreat into our lives,” Lutz said. “And, how can you take that atmos­phere and introduce rest of semester.”

The monks begin their days at 5 a.m. with vigils and end it at 8:30 p.m. with com­pline prayers, which are similar to vigils. While the day is filled with prayer, there was still plenty of downtime at the retreat.

“There are periods of rest during the day where stu­dents can take naps, they can journal, they can take walks. There’s beau­tiful grounds,” Rick said. “They also have the oppor­tunity, built into the Bene­dictine Rule, to work … We had a couple stu­dents garden with them. One of the monks has a car­pentry shop he’s happy to have stu­dents work with him in.”

Senior Abraham Pater­noster attended the retreat and said it was more than just a con­stant medi­ation session.

“Expect to get a taste of a lifestyle of peace, dis­ci­pline, sim­plicity, and devotion to God,” Pater­noster said. “I was struck by how normal and natural life was there, and yet how dif­ferent it was from most of the rest of my world.”

Junior Ethan Visser said while there were many ben­efits to going on the retreat, he had one focus going into it.

I went because I wanted an oppor­tunity to escape and set aside dis­trac­tions and hear God’s voice,” Visser said. “I wanted that to be my total focus for a day or two in order to recenter myself and refresh and restore my spir­itual life.”