Faculty Chaplaincy hosts two Mini-Retreats a year
Though the spirit of Notre Dame is palpable to those on campus, nurturing the spiritual life doesn’t occur by happenstance. For Rev. Frank Murphy, C.S.C., his role is to serve as chaplain to the more than 1,300 faculty at Notre Dame. His office plans a robust offering of pastoral events, including the bi-annual faculty retreats. The retreats, Father Murphy explains, give faculty participants, usually numbering around 20-40, an opportunity to invest in their faith life over the course of a two-hour lunch period.
“We’re trying to feed people’s spiritual life and faith life. Faculty don’t want a simple thing, they want a little content to wrap their head around as well as their heart,” Father Murphy says. “We try to keep them relevant to faith issues of the time.”
Past themes have ranged from “Praying with Oscar Romero” to “Passing Over: Migration, Theology and the Eucharist.” One retreat took place at the Snite Museum of Art and taught the art of Visio Divina, which joins meditation on scripture with artwork. This February’s retreat focused on work-life balance, and spanned four hours, rather than the typical two allotted for these mini-retreats. Though organized by the Faculty Chaplaincy, the retreats are taught by faculty with expertise on a given topic.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone knows they’re part of the mission and part of the community here.”
The diverse offerings are intentional, Father Murphy explains. With 1,300 faculty with different faiths, beliefs, and interests to serve, he hopes there is something that can appeal to each individual. In addition to the retreats, he also offers Bible studies, directed retreats, spiritual direction, support groups, service projects, and happy hours.
“I learned in the beginning that with faculty, there isn’t going to be one big event I do that meets everyone’s needs, so there’s not one template. I’m trying to reach out to the different interests, the different needs, and the different groupings of people,” he says.
So far, it seems to be working. He notes that he has an even distribution of participants from the many colleges and departments.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone knows they’re part of the mission and part of the community here if they’ve been hired here,” he says. “We’re not trying to provide what people might get in their parish or synagogue or mosque off-campus.”
Instead, Father Murphy explains that he hopes to provide support, enrichment, and opportunity that only Notre Dame can deliver. And he hopes the faculty feel the Holy Cross charisms of hospitality and community in all he offers.