The Hillsdale College Catholic Society held a morning retreat for women this weekend, to provide additional religious community for students.
More than 15 women from Hillsdale College gathered on Nov. 3 for the retreat. Tim Force ’17 and Peri Rose Force ’17 hosted the women at the Grotto, an off-campus hous
e owned by St. Anthony’s for outreach purposes, from 9 a.m. until noon, and the participants had the chance to spend some time with Dominican sisters.
Catholic Society Vice President and junior Olivia Brady planned the event with the goal of creating an event for women to be able to spend time in a religious community.
“I was thinking about all the guys here who have the opportunities to be around other religious men, like Chaplain Adam Rick or Father David Reamsnyder at St. Anthony’s Church,” Brady said. “I wanted an opportunity for people to spend time with religious sisters.”
Brady said Franciscan brothers come to the college about once a semester, but it’s far less common for sisters to visit. She wanted to give women an opportunity to connect with these religious women, not necessarily as a potential vocation, but just for the chance to be around them.
Brady reached out to Dominican sisters from Ann Arbor, asking if they’d be willing to offer a relaxing morning retreat. She said the sisters were very generous and willing to participate.
“I didn’t want it to be a retreat about discerning religious life, but a practical retreat about prayer and living out faith in college,” she said. “And then just having some time to reevaluate your relationship with God and how you can be living a prayer life.”
Sophomore Miriam Barry is a member of the outreach board. She said she thought the retreat was even better than she expected.
“It’s definitely going to help me in my prayer life,” she said. “One of the sisters talked about methods of prayer and meditations and the relationship with God. The other sister gave a talk about how to balance your life with God. School can be a real growth in your relationship, but you need to make time for prayer.”
The event began with the Force family cooking breakfast for everyone at the Grotto. After breakfast and a time of fellowship, one of the sisters shared her testimony and spoke about meditative prayer.
Then the group split in two. While one half spent time praying, the other half went on an Emmaus Walk. This walk provided the women time to divide in pairs to have intentional discussions about their relationships with God.
“We talked about prayer and what prayer looks like in our lives,” Brady said. “We said what kinds of prayers have been most fruitful for us and some ways we’d like to grow in prayer. At the end of the walk, you prayed with your partner.”
Another sister gave a talk about living for Christ during college.
“Both of the talks were amazing, and I really appreciated this one,” Brady said. “The biggest takeaway for me was needing to go back to think about how I use my time in the day. I heard the quote ‘God gave you your entire life; you can give him 15 minutes in the morning,’ so that kind of kicked my butt and made me see how I need to re-prioritize my time.”
Sophomore Bridget Breckler attended the retreat as well.
“I think the biggest thing from the retreat was honoring God through your present vocation that he’s given you, which for us right now is the vocation of being a student,” Breckler said. “So just realizing that you can give the gift of love to him through the little mundane things like homework was a good reinforcement that I needed.”
The group then divided in two again, switching activities. Some women devoted time to prayer, while the others took their turn to go on the Emmaus Walk. After the retreat, the sisters went to lunch with the women and later on a hike to Hayden Park.
“I think the event went really well,” Brady said. “I really appreciated the very different sorts of women that came. The sisters loved being here.”