The Sophomore Lenses Retreat


Benet Academy

The retreatants, leaders, and chaperones at the sophomore Lenses Retreat pose for a group picture.

On February 20, 46 Benet Academy sophomores were given the opportunity to discover God’s beauty through nature at the wonderful Morton Arboretum. The seven-hour retreat included Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, speakers, nature walks, prayer, music, and games. Led by Mrs. Billing, a Benet Academy religion teacher, and Campus Ministry Director Deacon Christopher, along with seniors Maddy Temple and Kovas Jeleniauskas, retreatants enjoyed putting on new “lenses” and seeing God anew.

God could not have blessed the retreat with better weather. With sunny skies and temperatures around 50 degrees, it was a beautiful day to experience God’s beauty through nature. When the retreatants arrived at the Arboretum, they were greeted with sunglasses and a basket to hold electronic devices. 

To begin the retreat, Mrs. Billing led the group in prayer and through a song (see the “Lenses Retreat Playlist” below). Retreatants then went outside and participated in common icebreaker games, including “The Name Game,” “Two Truths and a Lie,” and “Tag.” After everyone knew each other, the retreatants went inside and listened to the day’s first speaker, Benet Academy religion teacher, Mr. Ford. He spoke on how God is revealed through beauty and included stories about how he found that beauty during some of the most challenging times in his life. 

The retreatants then had the chance to explore the Arboretum with a scavenger hunt. Retreatants were given 30 clues, 45 minutes, and a Polaroid camera to prove they found the locations. The winning group received free Chick-Fil-A. After the scavenger hunt, Jeleniauskas spoke about how God is revealed through food in which lunch was served after. Lunch included four types of sandwiches, salad, chips, assorted desserts, and drinks. 

Once everyone’s stomach was full, and his or her lenses were on, the retreatants went back outside and were invited to spend time with God in some quiet reflection. Many retreatants brought their Lenses journals to jot down any thoughts or prayers that came to mind. After returning inside, Temple spoke on how beauty is revealed through the community. She spoke of her family and how she experiences God’s beauty through them. 

When Temple finished, Joe Bartley took the mic and spoke on how God’s beauty is revealed through worship music. Bartley is the lead singer of Indigo Skies and an experienced worship music leader. He then sang popular worship songs and encouraged the retreatants to sing along (see the “Lenses Retreat Playlist” below). Following Bartley, Fr. Tom Logue, the associate pastor of St. Raphael Catholic Church in Naperville, spoke on how God is revealed. To conclude the day, retreatants were invited to participate in Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and Confession, all presided over by Fr. Tom and assisted by Deacon Christopher. 

Sophomore Allison Perrino said, “I have never been so connected with God in my entire life. Mrs. Billing, Deacon Christopher, and the amazing student group leaders did a fantastic job setting up the retreat and helping us sophomores grow in our faith and understanding God’s presence in our lives.” 


Lenses Retreat Music Playlist:

Holy Spirit by Brian and Katie Torwalt

10,000 Reason by Matt Redman and Steve Angrisano

All Who Are Thirsty by Brenton Brown and Glenn Robertson

Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong

Holy and Anointed One by John Barnett

Great are You Lord by All Sons and Daughters

Tantum Ergo

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow by Hillsong

Come to the River by Housefires

Empty Me by Jeremy Camp

Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher