Women in mission

March 21, 2011

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Investing in the spirit, investing in excellence

By Marilyn Nash

On a surprisingly beautiful Saturday in March, a group representing Seattle University’s finest women in mission, traveled to Bainbridge Island for a day of retreat. Sponsored by a grant from the Endowed Mission Fund, and organized by a small group of women who have been meeting, praying and discerning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition, the retreat was the first of hopefully many events celebrating and investing in the women who help hold the mission and work of our university.

The retreat, titled “Indulging Our Spirits: Preparing for the Lenten Journey,” explored the theme of journey, asking women to consider releasing and shedding what no longer brings life,  in order to receive and invite new graces as we move forward through Lent towards Easter. Women who work as staff, faculty and administrators enjoyed the opportunity to “be still” in the beautiful, wooded setting at Island Wood, an environmental learning center on Bainbridge Island Comments from attendees confirm the power and benefit that comes from gathering with colleagues for conversation and prayer. Here's what some of them said:

“Sometimes there is an unavoidable feeling of isolation…in [my] work and daily routine… I was “filled with deep joy” being with “like-minded and like-hearted people.”  

“Nature and the Mass really brought me into the present moment” and “touched me deeply.”  

“I feel that I have a new community on campus”  

"I want to learn “how to be Jesuit as a woman and as a member of this university.”  

Women returned to campus and their jobs with a renewed sense of clarity, focus and intentionality. When we talk about investing in the excellence of our staff and faculty, we need to invest in their spirits as well.

The retreat concept was simple. Gather amazing women. Provide them with opportunities for shared meals, quiet walks, scriptural reflection, and shared worship. Throw in some wine, a dessert social, and a northwest ferry ride. What happens after that is pure grace. Look closely, maybe you can see that grace in the face of the next woman you pass on campus.

If you are interested in future events, retreats and conversations with other women who want to explore their faith socially and intellectually, inspired by the Jesuit Catholic tradition, please email womeninmission@seattleu.edu to be placed on the mailing list. Everyone is welcome. 

For more pictures taken by Catherine Punsalan, visit SU women's retreat

Marilyn Nash is campus minister for Ignatian spirituality.