Creighton Online Retreat:
Net Gains in Spirituality
University Collaborative Ministry Office site centers around weekly prayer, visual reflection, resources and sharing.
National Jesuit News
Can technology and spirituality really work hand in glove? Averaging 200 to 250 hits a day and more that 1,000 hits a week from people all over the world, Creighton University’s online retreat is proving that they can.
“We’ve offered a variety of mission and spiritual development programs, but many employees simply can’t leave their desks or their jobs in a lab or clinic to attend one of these sessions or retreats,” said Father Andy Alexander (WIS), Creighton’s vice president for University Ministry and director of the Collaborative Ministry Office, a program which promotes faculty and staff participation in Creighton’s Jesuit Catholic identity.
“We began to turn the world wide web last spring to support a mini-retreat in everyday life during lent,” added Maureen McCann Waldron, associate director of CMO. This Lenten retreat involved 85 faculty and staff, directed by 30 Jesuit and lay directors.
“To support their prayer we created a web site with reflections on the daily readings, written by people from around the Creighton community,” she said. These daily reflections have continued this fall with about 50 faculty and staff writing them.
Inspired by the success of the daily reflection website, Alexander and Waldron designed a second site, a 33-week retreat, based on the movements of the Exercises. Their idea was to create a site where people could visit each week for a guided experience of finding God in the midst of their everyday lives. They knew this would be a serious adaptation to the power of a directed experience of the Exercises. While they encourage retreatants to make the On-Line Retreat with a director or in a group, their decision to go forward was based on a conviction that there are many people who simply would never seek a director to make any form of spiritual exercises.
Each week’s set of hyper-linked pages centers around a guide for the week’s prayer and a visual reflection by photographer Father Don Doll (WIS). A series of resources are offered on each week’s main page, including a guidepost reflection by Father Larry Gillick (WIS).
Retreatants are also invited to share their personal reflections, which are posted each week.
“The growth of the site has been phenomenal. We promoted it across the campus and around the Wisconsin province. Within weeks we were receiving e-mails of thanks from around the world. Seven weeks into the retreat, the site has received over 1,000 hits per week,” Alexander said.
Both sites can be accessed from a link on the Creighton University home
page at: http://www.creighton.edu