In the midst of exams, work and stress, most Georgetown students need a break. Christine Gallagher (COL ’08) is a firm believer in the power of retreats, and her Georgetown experience has been shaped by the retreats she has attended and led. This weekend she will be a leader on the first of three Agape retreats this year at the Wellspring Conference Center in Germantown, aryland. In an interview with THE HOYA, Gallagher describes her life at Georgetown and her active involvement in the spiritual community on campus.
How did you get involved with Agape?
I went on a spiritual retreat freshman year called Spiritual Retreat. Since then I have been involved in different aspects of campus ministry. Last year I went on Agape and really enjoyed it, so I applied to be a leader.
How is the experience leading different then the experience of attending a retreat?
Being a leader is a great experience but it is very different than being a retreatant. You are more involved in the behind the scenes. It is also a lot more reflection beforehand than when you are a participant, then you reflect when you are on the retreat. You also get really close with the other retreat leaders.
You have also been involved with the ESCAPE retreats – what are the differences between Agape and ESCAPE?
Besides the fact that ESCAPE is for freshman and transfers and Agape is for sophomores, juniors and seniors, both retreats have a very different feel. ESCAPE is more lighthearted and more geared to getting to know people. Agape is definitely more solemn and reflective. Escape is non-religious while Agape is Catholic-based.
Did you have experience with retreats before you got to Georgetown?
I went to a Catholic school where we had a retreat every year. Senior year we had a three-day retreat that I went on and then led later in the year. I had that experience coming into Georgetown and knew it was something that I wanted to be involved with.
What is it that draws you to doing retreats?
I call myself a retreat-aholic. I feel that when I am at school I get so bogged down that I do not take enough time for myself, so when I get to go away on these weekends I get to reflect on everything that has gone on in my life. It is a chance to step back and reevaluate everything that I am doing.
What is the mission of the Agape retreat?
The retreat is a chance to get away and reevaluate yourself and your relationship with yourself, with others and with God. You have a lot of different perspectives to hear from; you can here from your peers, your leaders who are also peers and then the adult perspectives.
What do you hope a participant gets from going on Agape?
I hope that it is a time to get away from the craziness that becomes normal in our lives here and allow them to get to know themselves. The biggest thing about going on a retreat here, for me, is to find a place in the Catholic community.
How else are you involved with Campus Ministry besides retreats?
Besides the retreats, I coordinate Renew with another senior. We meet in small groups once a week and we reflect on a scripture reading and talk about it. In the end you challenge one another to act on what you reflected on for the week in what we call “Beckon to Action.”
How have retreats and Campus Ministry shaped your Georgetown experience?
Before I was involved with Campus Ministry I knew that there was something missing that would have made my Georgetown experience better. Through Campus Ministry and more specifically through the retreats it has helped me kindle my personal and community spirituality. Campus ministry has been a major defining point of my Georgetown experience, especially from getting to know people through the retreat programs. It showed me how important community is and it gave me one outside just my friends here.
Is there anyone you would not recommend Agape to, or do you think it is something everyone should try out?
From my experience it is such a diverse experience, people are coming from all walks of campus life and spiritual life. Some people don’t know how they feel about God; it gives you a chance to reflect on it. I would recommend it to anyone.
Do people generally stay in contact with each other after the two days are through?
I met a lot of people through ESCAPE that I still talk to, and we have the ESCAPE reunions. What I really like about Agape is that you really get to know the small group that you are in and you continue to meet with them at least three more times throughout the semester.
Do most people go on Agape by themselves or do they go with friends – Which one do you recommend?
Last year both my roommate and I went and I really liked sharing that experience with her – we grew in our friendship. On other retreats I went by myself and I really liked that it forced me to get to know the people around me. I have experienced both and would recommend either.
With graduation inching closer, do you know what you want to do next year – Would you want to incorporate Campus inistry in your future work?
I have a one- or two-year plan. I want to do some sort of faith-based volunteer program, whether that is Jesuit Volunteers or teaching.