$17 Mil Gift Will Build Religious Retreat Center
November 22, 2010 –A new spiritual retreat and contemplative center for Georgetown students of all faiths and for the university's already established religious retreats will be built in the Blue Ridge Mountains, thanks to a recent $17 million gift.
The gift comes from Arthur (C'54) and Nancy Calcagnini, who previously fully endowed the university's ESCAPE retreat program with a $1.5 million gift and wanted to further enhance Georgetown's Catholic and Jesuit mission.
The ESCAPE program is an overnight, nondemoninational reflective experience for first-year and transfer students run by Georgetown's Office of Campus Ministry.
It is just one of the 32 faith-based retreats a year the office runs for Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Orthodox Christian students and other members of the Georgetown community.
The Jesuits consider contemplative reflection an important element of self-knowledge and spiritual growth.
The Calcagnini Contemplative Center, future home of the retreats, is expected to be completed by 2012 or 2013 on a 55-acre property in Bluemont, Va., about 75 minutes from Georgetown's Main Campus.
The complex will include a Catholic chapel, community and dining halls, and 28 cabins that can house up to 78 students.
More than 7,500 students have experienced ESCAPE retreats since they were begun in 1991. Through that program, Calcagnini, a member of university's board of directors, and his wife came to understand the importance of a center to house all of the university's retreats.
"Arthur and Nancy epitomize the core Catholic and Jesuit values at the heart of this university," said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. "Over the years the Calcagninis have endowed funds for the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim chaplaincies on campus as well as student scholarships, medical center research and other projects. Their gift to establish a contemplative center will animate the lives and deepen the faiths of generations of students to come."
Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., Georgetown's vice president for mission and ministry, notes that, "Arthur's commitment is personal as well as financial.
Every year for the past 20 years he has participated in at least one ESCAPE weekend and has given the alumni talk to the students. His vision is key to making this project a reality."
Calcagnini is the retired chair and CEO of Lombard and Co. and his wife is a former managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston. The couple lives in North Palm Beach, Fla., and are passionate about the importance of taking time for reflection and self-examination.
"I can't think of a more important investment than to provide young people with the opportunity for quiet introspection and a chance to ask questions of themselves," Arthur Calcagnini said. "This center will provide the potential to enrich every student for a lifetime. It is an important part of achieving the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person."