Providing students with an opportunity to explore life’s challenges, the University of Dayton’s Campus Ministry took 40 students this past weekend to Glen Helen Nature Preserve near Yellow Springs, Ohio, to participate in the Lighthouse retreat.
Along with 20 Campus Ministry team members, the students experienced a retreat that focused on UD’s pillars of community, faith, prayer, service and simplicity, according to Mike Bennett, a Campus Ministry graduate assistant for the Program for Christian Leadership.
“I believe any retreat that Campus Ministry offers provides students with the avenue to build community,” Bennett said. “[They] explore spirituality and relationships through community reflection.”
The Lighthouse retreat, developed in 1998, replaced the CARE retreats that were experiencing less student involvement, according to Allison Leigh, the assistant director of Campus Ministry for Retreats and Faith Communities.
At the time, retreat campus ministers created the overall theme, the nautical metaphors and worked with a team of student leaders to prepare and lead the new Lighthouse retreat, she said.
The activities and prayers have evolved over the years, but the central themes are the same, Leigh said.
Along with a group of student leaders and campus ministers, the retreat continues to be open to all UD sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“Lighthouse reminded me of the joyful person I can be,” said junior criminal justice major Abby Aceto, who attended the retreat. “It inspired me to fight for that joy everyday. [The retreat is] so worth it.”
Bennett said the Lighthouse retreat helps students explore what makes each individual who they are and how God plays a role in our lives. He believes it is often challenging for students to go beyond their comfort zones to meet others, engage in some introspection and faithfully reflect on their relationship with God.
According to Bennett, the Lighthouse retreat is helpful in those three areas, along with opening the doors for students to begin to process some of the “storms” in their lives with the support of their peers and adults from the university.
“Typically students return to campus with a fresh lens of life and a community of support that surrounds them,” Bennett said. “[The retreat] leaves us with a lot of energy to continue processing and forming leaders for future retreats.”
Lighthouse also has a second retreat in April when students will again participate in a variety of prayer experiences, hear witness talks from the Campus Ministry team and have small and large group discussions.
“There is nothing greater than to be completely overwhelmed by God’s love,” said sophomore sociology, religion and pre-physical therapy major Erica Reist. “That is exactly what Lighthouse did for me.”
For more information on UD retreats, visit udayton.edu/ministry/retreats/index.php or contact Allison Leigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.