“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.”