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Aug 06

Mid-day retreats give students, staff and alumni opportunity to take a break for faith

Published on: Monday, August 6, 2012

As a new academic year begins students, professors and staff can quickly find themselves caught in the day-to-day grind, where everything else but the task at hand becomes secondary. That’s precisely the time when tapping into one’s faith can be most vital, said Prof. Susan Stabile, chair for the Spiritual Life Committee at the School of Law.

“Our faith is central to our lives, but many times in the law school environment and in the legal profession it can be easy for it to get shoved to the background,” Stabile said. “That’s why (at the School of Law) we try to find ways to integrate faith opportunities during the work day.”

Since her arrival at the School of Law in 2007 (in addition to her responsibilities as a law professor) Stabile has worked to provide regular opportunities for students to deepen their faith through a variety of mid-day retreats, reflections and dialogue events throughout the academic calendar. The 2012-2013 academic calendar includes a variety of such opportunities starting with the Fall Reflection Series “Learning to Forgive.” Other opportunities during fall semester include a faith reflection on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II and a Mid-Day Dialogue “Perspectives on Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.”

Each mini-retreat, reflection or dialogue event takes place during the mid-day worship/reflection and lunch break and gives students, faculty, staff and alumni the opportunity to take a mental break from the workday to focus on their faith.

“Lawyering can be kind of a draining, almost deadening to a sense of vocation in some ways,” Stabile said. “So these retreats are focused with an idea of helping people to integrate their faith into their workday and into all avenues of their life.”

As she enters her sixth year of organizing the mid-day retreats, reflections and dialogue events at the School of Law, Stabile said she has increasingly benefitted from the contributions of other faculty and staff in developing topics and facilitating each event. The subjects of many mid-day dialogues result from morning coffee discussions between Professors Stabile and Osler.  The topic “Learning to Forgive,” which will be featured in a five-week series each Tuesday beginning Sept. 11, came out of comments at a number of last year’s retreats.  “Last year, it seemed that no matter what the subject of discussion the issue of the difficulty of forgiveness came up.  It is so difficult for us not only to forgive others, but to accept that we are forgiven. So we figured why not spend some time discussing and reflecting on that topic.”

Such topics often lead to important ecumenical discussions among Christians of different denominations, Stabile said.
“We are obviously coming from a Catholic perspective on many of these topics, but we are really excited to have other faculty and staff from other denominational backgrounds contribute and help lead these discussions,” Stabile said. “And we welcome students of all faith backgrounds to participate.”
Stabile, who earned certification in 2006 as a spiritual retreat director from the St. Joseph Renewal Center in Brentwood, NY and her certificate in retreat house ministry in 2007, said that helping to facilitate opportunities for her colleagues and students to deepen their faith is in important part of her vocation.  “That’s what I feel a calling to do,” she said. “To help other people deepen their experience of God.”

Each retreat/reflection/dialogue event is available in podcast form for those who are interested in a particular topic but are unable to attend. The podcasts are made available at Stabile’s personal blog, Creo en Dios!: http://susanjoan.wordpress.com

For a list of mini-retreats, Reflections in Daily Living and Mid-day Dialogue events, go to the featured events calendar.

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