Online retreat offers easy access to God
By Melissa Wagner
The Creightonian
February 25, 2000

A click of a button can give students a chance to embark on a spiritual retreat to help deal with everyday life.

University Ministry provides an online retreat that can be accessed anywhere in the world. This 34-week retreat consists of guideposts written by Rev. Larry Gillick, S.J., readings, prayers, a place to share and ideas for getting started and preparing. This can be done alone, with a group or with a spiritual leader.

The site suggests that people read the guide page and review the graces once a week and pray daily. Sharing the graces with a leader or group is only optional, making the retreat confidential, personal and not time consuming. 

“The time getting dressed in the morning, driving from here to there, walking from one class to another, that is normally occupied by the song in [one’s] head can be used to reflect on what this guide is about,” said Rev. Andy Alexander, S.J., co-founder and vice president for University  Ministry. “During these background times, your everyday life can have meaning and that is where it starts to transform your life.”

Alexander said he gets e-mails and phone calls from all over the world thanking him for creating the site. Those who have chosen to post messages on the public sharing link write how the retreat helped them. 

“My life is different now,” one person wrote. “I’m waking up differently. Reflecting more consciously at various times during the day. Being more peaceful and graceful.”

Alexander said he found that people want a spiritual connection without going on a weekend retreat. This site provides the tools needed for that connection, including photographs by Rev. Don Doll, S.J. These photographs can be used as a screen saver allowing one to reflect when sitting at the computer. 

Many have found the retreat useful, including Newsday who did a story on the retreat in its Feb. 13 paper. Co-founder Maureen McCann Waldron told Newsday the retreat helps people think about God on an everyday basis.

“It’s about finding God…in the chaos of your everyday life,” McCann Waldron told Newsday. “You’re not retreating away from something. You’re becoming a part of the world and just seeing it differently-seeing the world as God’s work.”

The weekly retreat evolved from a retreat for faculty and staff during Lent. Due to the numerous hits to the site, McCann Waldron and Alexander decided to ask the faculty and staff to write for the site and made it available to anyone interested. Now they have 50 faculty and staff writing reflections for the site, which gets hit about 1,000 times a day, Alexander said.

The site has been hit 156,926 (as of Feb. 13) since Sep. of 1998 because it is easy, user friendly and effective. To get to the online retreat click on the Online Ministries logo on Creighton’s home page and then on Online Retreat.

“It’s a retreat for busy people in ordinary life,” Alexander said. “It can help us find God in all things so that anybody can log on at any hour of the day or night and read this material, print it out or send it to a friend.”