Fordham Notes: Fordham Employees Hit Spiritual Reset Button on Ignatian Retreat

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fordham Employees Hit Spiritual Reset Button on Ignatian Retreat

A participant reflects at the Fordham Ignatian retreat.
(Photo courtesy of Campus Ministry)

After a long academic year, silence and reflection can be golden. Just ask a group of faculty and staff members who participated in Fordham University’s most recent Ignatian retreat.

“The demands and distractions of the school year do not leave enough time for me to talk to God,” said Juliana F. Gilheany, Ph.D., adjunct professor of history. “I went on the retreat because I wanted to find the peace and quiet that would let me get closer to Him.”

“Living in the Spirit in Ordinary Time,” was held from May 25 to 28 at the Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in Ossining, N.Y., and was organized by Campus Ministry.

The setting on the Hudson River was “conducive to quiet reflection on God’s nature, in company with His birds, deer, rabbits, turkeys and chipmunks,” Gilheany added.

The first of the faculty and staff retreats, which also are open to graduate students, was held in 1998, said Joan Cavanagh, associate director of campus ministry. There is a fee to attend, though a limited number of scholarships are available. Activities include prayer, Eucharist, optional confession and conferences on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

“The purpose of the retreat is to encourage faculty and staff to step back from the busyness of life and spent a few days in prayer and reflection in line with Ignatian spirituality,” Cavanagh said.

Giselle Esquivel, Psy.D., professor of school psychology in the Graduate School of Education, said she found much peace “in silence, walks by the river, conversations with her spiritual director, art work in the creativity room, labyrinth walks and sleeping to soft music.”

“Most of all, I feel a sense of grace in a community of love and inclusiveness. I am awed to be able to kindle and express my spirituality among those with whom I work. It is indeed a rare gift to have such blessings,” Esquivel added.

Melissa Alvarenga, associate coordinator of service learning at Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice, agreed.

“The retreat gave me the opportunity to reflect on my work during the past year while connecting more deeply and intentionally with the University’s mission,” she said. “As a young professional, I was able to take four days to grow my spirituality in a beautiful retreat center in the middle of a serene, picturesque setting on the Hudson. By nurturing my mind and heart, I was able to rejuvenate and center myself.”

For more information on this retreat and other like it, contact Joan Cavanagh at

-Gina Vergel

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