Georgetown Mission and Ministry Offers Ignatian Retreat for Alumni Caregivers

This is a picture of a slide that was presented at the virtual retreat outlining themes of St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises including Finding God in All Things, Discernment, and spirituality
Father Mark Bosco, SJ, PhD, vice president of the Office of Mission & Ministry, co-leads the Ignatian retreat, “Caring for the Caregivers,” held virtually on February 23, 2021. (Screenshot of virtual retreat by Sumana Chatterjee)

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February 25, 2021 – During the past year, many Georgetown alumni have been using their education to help address the COVID-19 pandemic – providing patient care, conducting scientific research, promoting public health, and managing hospital responses.

This week, Georgetown’s Office of Mission & Ministry sponsored a special Ignatian retreat to acknowledge their values-based dedication and provide a space for reflection during Lent.

Father Mark Bosco, SJ, PhD, vice president of the Office of Mission & Ministry, in a formal photo in an office setting with a window behind him
Father Mark Bosco, SJ, PhD, vice president of the Office of Mission & Ministry

Father Mark Bosco, SJ, PhD, vice president of the Office of Mission & Ministry, and Father Jerry Hayes, SJ, director of Ignatian programs, co-led the event, “Caring for the Caregivers,” which was organized by the Office of Advancement and attended by dental, medical, and nursing alumni.

‘Show Our Gratitude’

“It was an honor to accompany our Hoya alumni and current nurses and physicians in this special virtual hour-long Ignatian retreat,” Bosco said. “They have been on the frontline of caring for so many people during this pandemic. If there was any way to show our gratitude and walk with them spiritually, we were glad to do so.”

BSN alumna Eileen Brennan Ferrell (NHS’75, G’83), MS, RN, who is MedStar Georgetown’s chief nursing officer, said that “it was so nice to take an hour for myself to reflect” following the past year. (Read an alumna spotlight about Ferrell’s work during the earlier weeks of the pandemic.)

“Father Jerry and Father Mark put a great hour together that was reflective and timely during these difficult times for caregivers,” she said.

‘Continue to Lift Each Other’

Hayes said that during this incredibly difficult year of the pandemic he has been asking himself how do we restore community, connectedness to what matters most in life, and trust.

Father Jerry Hayes, SJ, director of Ignatian programs, in a formal photo in front of stained glass
Father Jerry Hayes, SJ, director of Ignatian programs

“Our virtual world is not the same as physically being present to one another,” he said. “And yet, we continue to find ways to reach out and connect and pray and care for one another and ourselves.”

He said that medical and nursing graduates “have stepped into some deep waters this past year, and we cannot support them enough with our love and prayers.”

“Our time together on Tuesday night was an act of compassion toward one another as we ‘blessed’ each other with our online smiles and waves,” Hayes added. “May we continue to lift each other up as a community in prayerful support and embrace the divine we see in one another.”

Connecting to ‘Spiritual Self’

Ferrell serves on the NHS Board of Advisors along with fellow BSN alumna Colleen Scanlon (NHS’76, H’00), JD, RN.

She also took part in the retreat, calling it “well developed and engaging.” Scanlon, who noted that she also receives and appreciates the Office of Mission & Ministry’s Lent Daily Devotional, said, “It is definitely something I would do again and encourage others to participate in.” 

Lauren Baker Pappas (NHS’09), a BSN alumna who is president of the Philadelphia regional alumni club, also expressed gratitude for the presentation by the Jesuit priests, saying, “After a stressful year for everyone involved in health care, it was refreshing to connect to my spiritual self.” 

She added, “St. Ignatius’ teachings and prayer give us a lot to rely on during this time, especially the prayer for generosity, ‘To give and not to count the cost, To fight and not to heed the wounds.’ I will continue to serve the Lord during this time.”

Feeling Appreciative and Blessed

Attendee Monica Romo-Contreras (M’03), MD, said she is “very blessed to be part of the Georgetown Jesuit community,” a feeling she also experienced as a medical student on campus.

“The retreat came after a very difficult and stressful day, but I was very glad I prioritized this retreat and time for me and grateful that Georgetown, Father Hayes, and Father Bosco made it available,” Romo-Contreras says. “I appreciated the Examen exercise, and I enjoyed the poem shared by Father Bosco.” 

Like Romo-Contreras, Jenifer Aventuro Luck (G’89, M’93, R’97), MD, and husband Stephen Luck (G’86, M’90), MD, enjoyed the Examen as well.

“Our long relationship with Georgetown and appreciation of Jesuit values inspired us to attend the virtual Lenten Ignatian Retreat,” she said. “We were expertly led on a caregiver-focused Examen, which several days later continues to inspire us. The exercise was a reminder that not only can we find the face of God in those who support us, but also in those who challenge us.”

Romo-Contreras highlighted that she enjoyed seeing her sister, also a medical school graduate, and a friend during the retreat. Additionally, she said her son is considering a Jesuit college because of the emphasis on cura personalis, or care for the whole person.  

“Needless to say, we greatly appreciate and value the Jesuits,” she said.

By Bill Cessato and Kat Zambon