Subiaco retreat: Saint Benedict would love the song ‘Waymaker’


Courtesy / Campus Ministry

The Subiaco group smiled for a group photo at the end of the retreat.

Kathryn Williams, Editor in Chief

Campus Ministry’s annual Subiaco retreat gave students the opportunity to disconnect from busy life and focus on their relationships with the divine, an important hallmark of Anselmian life. 

18 students went on the retreat, including 4 student leaders: Adrienne Lesieur ’23, Jillian Barrett ’24, Anna Gaby ’25, and Julia Smith ’25. The weekend consisted of talks by the leaders, small group discussions, time for prayer and reflection, and lots of worship music.

The Subiaco retreat gets its name from the place in which Saint Benedict retreated for three years, living in a cave to escape the business of life and focus on God. In her opening talk, Julia Smith said to the retreat participants, “St. Benedict, as I am sure many of us can relate to, was overwhelmed with the never-ending noise that the world brings. Like St. Benedict, you have chosen to leave that behind, to go away for even a little while to find God in your own, beautiful way.”

One of the activities involved participants being blindfolded and led into a “maze” where their hands were placed on a string to guide them. The activity was led by Adrienne Lesieur. Participants were given the instructions “you are in a maze. There is a way out. If you need help, raise your hand.” In reality, the “maze” was a circle, so participants walked around the circle until they finally raised their hands for help and were silently taken out of the maze. This is a metaphor for people asking for God’s help in difficult situations. Lesieur gave a talk relating this to her personal experience in asking for God’s help during a time of great anxiety.

When a winter storm prevented a priest from being able to travel to the retreat for Mass, the leaders got creative and put together a prayer experience including music, readings, and reflection. Later that evening, the group gathered in front of a roaring fire to learn more about inviting the Holy Spirit into their prayer lives. This included time for personal prayer and reflection with instrumental worship music, as well as the opportunity for student leaders Julia Smith and Anna Gaby to pray over participants and their needs. 

In their spare time, the group enjoyed singing along with guitars, playing all kinds of games, having snowball fights, and even live-streaming part of the hockey championship. “This was one of the most musical groups I’ve seen on a retreat,” said Joycelin Raho, a campus minister who helped plan the retreat. “In our designated worship times and well into the free time at night, the group really connected with one another and with God through music. They had a great sound and awesome group energy.”

“My favorite part of leading Subiaco was getting to experience the power of community in such a tangible way,” said retreat leader Anna Gaby. “The people who went on the retreat belong to all sorts of different communities throughout the college. There were many people I’d never spoken to before. However, we were all there for a similar purpose, and that commonality between us created a sense of community right away,” she continued.

The final activity of the retreat was placing words of affirmation on one another’s backs using sticky notes. After taking time to write positive words to their peers, and chase the notes that fell off their backs, each person ended with a stack of uplifting notes to bring with them. “It was amazing to see an unlikely group of people come together to form such a beautiful community with God at the center,” said Gaby.

Students wrote something that was holding them back in their prayer life on a rock
and cast the stones into the lake.
A string “maze” was used to demonstrate asking God for help and giving up control. 



Participants placed words of affirmation
on each other for their final activity.