Responding to Rising Demand, Chaplaincy Expands Retreats

The University Chaplaincy has added a discernment program for seniors and two new retreats this year to its slate of contemplative exercises, as the interest among Boston College students in exploring their spirituality continues to build.

"The retreat movement on campus is growing," said Chaplain Sister Joan Mahoney. "More and more students are interested in making retreats. There is a real hunger among students for this sort of experience."

Sister Mahoney recently lead a four-day silent retreat for 26 juniors, seniors and graduate students in Saco, Maine. Demand was so great for this "Inward Bound" retreat that a waiting list was established.

"Outer silence allows you to find inner silence," she said. "Those making the retreat say they want to build their relationships with God. They know their lives are hectic. This will give them a chance to focus on what's important in their lives."

Another new retreat offering introduced this year is the First Year Spirituality Retreat for freshmen to be led by Chaplain John Savard, SJ, at the Oakhurst Retreat Center in Whitinsville, Mass., Feb. 12-14. Between 35 and 40 freshmen are expected to make the weekend retreat that will offer an Ignatian approach to directed prayer.

Last semester, Sister Mahoney led a three-night Discernment Series for seniors in which participants mulled post-graduation plans from a perspective of faith.

The new programs are the latest additions to what has become a large schedule of retreat and prayer offerings on campus.

Sister Mahoney said as many as 800 freshmen participate annually in the 48 Hours retreats for first-year students sponsored by the Chaplaincy. Hundreds more participate in the Chaplaincy's Sophomore-Junior Retreats, Senior Retreats and Busy Student Retreats, she said, as well as in student-run Kairos, Salt & Light Co. and 4Boston retreats.

-Mark Sullivan

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