Faith at Marquette
4 min readNov 30, 2021

S I L E N T. L I S T E N.

Written collaboratively by Leslie O’Connell and Sara Knutson

Have you ever noticed that the same letters make up those two words?

Silence is a rare gift. A precious resource. It’s a chance to listen and reflect. To turn up the volume on your inner voice.

MU Student at the Jesuit Retreat Center, Oshgosh, WI

Coming soon: Two opportunities for the Marquette community to discover the power of silence at silent retreats presented by Campus Ministry in December and January. Think of it as a gift of self-renewal, self-discovery, and self-care.

Wait — a silent retreat? Sure, retreat reluctance is natural — especially a silent retreat. For many, there’s cautious curiosity..

Busy lives are so abuzz with activity that we not only overlook silence, it can be unnerving. “I had heard of silent retreats in the past and been intimidated,” said John Hegarty, senior in the College of Business Administration.

Something inside nudged him to overcome his hesitance. “The silence is nothing to be afraid of,” Hegarty said. “Being with a group still provides that sense of community that is characteristic of retreats, and the silence almost builds some solidarity since everyone is participating in it.”

Tatum Burazin, senior in the College of Business Administration, encourages the curious to be bold. “This retreat is for anyone who wants to push their boundaries and find what can be revealed in the silence,” she said.

Human doing or human being?

Sometimes “busy” is the all-too-common answer when someone asks “how are you?” In the midst of classes, deadlines, exams, work, and non-stop demands, we could more aptly be called “human doing,” rather than human being.

MU Retreatant walking along Winnebago Lake, Oshgosh, WI

A silent retreat is a chance to just be. Burazin can relate. “Like most people, I was overwhelmed by being busy doing too many things, and I was about to enter into a new semester where I was going to encounter lots of changes,” she said. “I saw the silent retreat as a unique opportunity to take the time to pause and reflect on where I’ve been and where I’d like to be going.”

The retreat creates space and time — to rest, reflect, walk, read, practice yoga, pray — and just be. It’s a chance to get reconnected with who you are and what’s important to you.

“The silent retreat completely changed the way I viewed time, because it allowed me to experience how even when I have every hour of the day free, there will still never be enough time,” Burazin said. “This simple lesson has added value to my life by making me realize the importance of prioritizing what matters.”

Reflect, renew, reset

The value of a silent retreat is very personal. It may be a chance to discern purpose, gain clarity about a decision, deepen one’s spirituality, or just exhale.

MU Student using the art room for prayer at the Jesuit Retreat Center, Oshgosh, WI

“The silent retreat allowed me to have a significant amount of time to reflect on some of the bigger questions in life I had, along with helping me begin to address various struggles that had been bothering me,” Hegarty said. “I also was able to gain a much deeper understanding of Ignatian spirituality.”

For Vanessa Wilkerson, freshman in the College of Health Sciences, it will be a chance to let go of day-to-day stress and take time for gratitude. She’s anticipating her first silent retreat in December. “I am always drawn to connect with God in a safe, calm place because my life is always so busy. This retreat seemed perfect for me,” she said. “I hope to get the value of grace from this retreat and realizing everything that God has done in my life.”

Silent or quiet?

Like a physical fitness routing, learning to be silent takes courage, commitment, patience and practice. Burazin observed that some people may be tempted to take shortcuts — for example, to be “quiet at home”. She emphasized the value of intentionally leaving behind the daily routine and its countless distractions. The retreat also provides the opportunity to share the experience in community.


“If someone is even a little bit curious about the experience, I highly encourage them to just dive in head first and see what happens,” Burazin said. “Life will always be moving, so why not shake it up by hitting pause and looking up to reflect.”

Learn more about silent retreats offered by Campus Ministry:

Silent Weekend: Dec. 17–19, 2021 — directly after finals week. Register until Dec. 5 or when the retreat is full. Open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Silent Directed Retreat: Jan. 10–15, 2022 — Start the new year in a spirit of renewal and discovery with a six-day inter-generational retreat open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, and alumni.

Faith at Marquette

Faith at Marquette University | Mission & Ministry, Campus Ministry, and the Faber Center: encouraging Marquette’s pillar and tradition of faith.