Cape Neddick Lighthouse, also known as Nubble Light, at York, Maine. (Stefan Hillebrand)

As the campus gears up for a new academic year, moments of serenity and contemplation for BC faculty are harder to come by. A welcome opportunity for just such thoughtful reflection, set against the scenic backdrop of the rugged coast of Maine, occurred earlier in the summer at this year's Villa faculty writing retreat.

Inspired by a Jesuit practice called the Villa, participants spent five days in York, Maine focusing on an aspect of their role in the Jesuit mission of higher education, be it related to scholarship or creative work.

Though the majority of the 35 attendees were from the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, organizers say all BC schools were represented at the retreat, which is offered through University Mission and Ministry's Intersections program.

The Society of Jesus, said Intersections Director Burt Howell, “uses this type of retreat to strengthen its mission, and we hope the Intersections Villa strengthens the Jesuit and Catholic mission of Boston College.”

Feedback has been positive, according to Howell, who notes that this year's retreat was the fourth session of what he hopes will continue to be an annual event. “Faculty are grateful for the chance to disconnect from their daily routine and be reconnected to their research, their colleagues, and the University mission.”

“This was my most satisfying experience of collegiality in the 22 years I have been at BC,” said Franco Mormando, professor and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, whose retreat subject was a scholarly article focused on the 17th-century response to Gian Lorenzo Bernini's controversial sculpture, “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” (Rome, 1650, Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria). “It was a delight to be able to get to know so many colleagues outside of my department...I came away with greater admiration for the BC faculty: there are so many accomplished scholars and fascinating human beings among us!”

According to Howell, Intersections works directly with faculty to “try to understand and address the needs of scholars, and we see this retreat as a form of ministry to professors. “We hope faculty enjoy the combination of solitude and fellowship. They have unlimited hours to write but are often surprised by the opportunity for reflection and conversations with colleagues from different departments,” he added.

For Mormando, the retreat was a chance to immerse himself in "a long-in-progress writing project," if only for a week.

"Not only did I get a lot of work done, I was also—and quite unexpectedly—recharged by the Villa week, physically and mentally,” Mormando said. “I would recommend the retreat to any and all my colleagues: in addition to being a great boost to their scholarly production, the retreat will also—and maybe even more importantly—make them appreciate what is truly distinct and delightfully special about BC, and happy to be part of BC as a university and as a Jesuit enterprise.”

BC faculty members who would like to participate in a future Villa retreat may submit their interest here.

—Rosanne Pellegrini | News & Public Affairs