Sustaining Lives of Meaning and Purpose

Sustaining Lives of Meaning and Purpose in the Healthcare Industry

Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center (Dover, MA)

April 22-23, 2022

This new 24-hour retreat builds on Boston College’s established expertise in formative programs by bringing experts in nursing, theology, philosophy, education, psychology, and social work to lead a cohort of twenty-five healthcare workers in sustained reflection about vocation, meaning, and purpose in their lives. Taking time away from “normal” life by “retreating,” even short distances away, offers unique antidotes to the effects of burnout and new opportunities for reflection and solidarity. Participants will engage in a structured program of reflection and conversation while also having social and personal time in the beautiful setting of the BC’s Connors Center in Dover, Massachusetts.

Healthcare professionals live out their vocations as healers and patient advocates in a uniquely stressful context. Increasing pressures across the healthcare industry to speed patient interactions and increase administrative work have joined the inherent stressors of caring for sick and dying patients to produce new levels of burnout among physicians, nurses, therapists, and social workers.


The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified these stressors while adding additional layers of concern about physical safety and self-care. As a result, burnout among healthcare professionals in this country is widely described as a public health crisis that not only affects the mental health of the workers themselves but also degrades the quality and effectiveness of the care delivered across the entire system. The goal of this 24-hour retreat is to help participants better care for themselves so they can better care for others.

Who Should Attend

  • Healthcare professionals at all stages of their careers who are seeking to affirm or find meaning and purpose in their work; intergenerational mentoring and solidarity will be a key component of the program.
  • Healthcare and social work professionals who work in primary care, critical/acute care, palliative care, hospice, and work with victims of trauma would especially benefit from this opportunity. 
  • Boston College alumni are especially encouraged to participate, in order to reconnect with the formative education they received on campus.

Program Goals

This weekend program offers participants an opportunity to: 

  • Reflect on your own callings to healthcare
  • Consider the meanings, values and challenges of those vocations in conversation with others in the field
  • Examine various aspects of the profession that lead to stress, burnout and moral injury
  • Gain intellectual and personal resources to support your continued work in the field
  • Identify best practices for self-care and dealing with the burdens of the healthcare industry and professions 
  • Reanimate your vocational commitments.

Structure & Cost

  • Participants arrive at the Boston College’s beautiful Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center in Dover, Massachusetts by 5pm on Friday April 22, and spend the night before concluding at 5pm on Saturday April 23. 
  • The program fee includes lodging in private suites plus dinner, breakfast, lunch, and other snacks. 
  • The program features structured group reflection and conversation with experts from BC’s programs in nursing, theology, philosophy, education, and more, along with personal reflection time and informal social interaction during meals and a reception. 


Taking time away from “normal” life by “retreating,” even short distances away, offers unique antidotes to the effects of burnout and new opportunities for reflection and solidarity.

Program Faculty & Expertise

Erik Owens

Erik Owens

Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of the International Studies Program, Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Bridging the fields of religious ethics, political philosophy, and education, Erik Owens' research explores a variety of intersections between religion and public life, with particular attention to issues of citizenship in global contexts and the challenge of fostering the common good in religiously diverse societies. Owens teaches interdisciplinary courses on ethics and religion in international politics, religion in American public life (including religion in public schools), and political theologies of citizenship.

Kerry Cronin

Kerry Cronin

Assistant Professor of the Practice, Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

A Boston College philosophy professor, Kerry Cronin is also associate director of the Morrissey College's Perspectives Program, a multi-year core program that offers courses for students who want to develop integrated answers to life's enduring questions. Inspired by the Jesuit tradition of providing a humanist context for professional and scientific education, Perspectives courses seek to educate the whole person and help students develop skills in critical thinking and practical living. Cronin is also a Fellow at BC's Center for Student Formation.

David Goodman

David Goodman

Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives & External Relations and Associate Professor, Lynch School of Education & Human Development

David Goodman is passionate about developing creative spaces for bringing together fields that seek to address human identity, suffering, and potential. Whether through conference building, interdisciplinary scholarship, curriculum development, or in his courses, Goodman commits himself to impacting the very language we employ while making sense of and responding to the Other. As an Associate Professor of the Practice in both the Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology department and Morrissey's Philosophy department, Goodman consistently attempts to bridge worlds and invite dialogue. 

Join us for reflection and conversation designed for the needs of healthcare professionals at Boston College’s Connors Center in Dover, Massachusetts.

Register Today