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Communio: A Retreat for Faculty

If Christian universities are to pursue excellence in teaching and research while deepening their religious commitment, they must provide significant opportunities for faculty—especially new faculty—to reflect upon the relationship between learning and faith and the mission of Christian higher education.

Frio River

Offered each May since 2001 by the Institute for Faith and Learning, Communio: A Retreat for Faculty, seeks to meet this important faculty development need at Baylor. Hosted at Laity Lodge, a beautiful ecumenical retreat center in the Hill Country of Central Texas, the five-day retreat features guest lectures and guided discussions by noted Christian thinkers, common meals and worship, and other activities that encourage collegiality among faculty members as they explore together their common aims as Christian educators at Baylor.

Among a multitude of goals, Communio aims at three in particular. The reteat first aims to to acquaint faculty with a theological understanding of vocation/calling. Secondly, it aims to explore the implications of Christian calling for academic life in both its teaching and scholarly dimensions. Lastly, Communio aims to enhance faculty readiness to help mentor students in discerning and responding to their own Christian vocation.

What happens at the retreat?

Photo 2 for Faculty Retreat Page

Communio is first and foremost a retreat—an extended time for prayer, reflection, and renewal. Each day begins and ends with common prayer. Through scripture, sacred music, and silence we hope to orient (and often re-orient) the pattern of our daily living towards becoming more attuned to God's calling on our lives. Many who have attended these retreats have found these times of prayer as the most important offering of the week.

Each morning and evening, we also will meet for a time of presentation and discussion led by one of our retreat speakers. Here we are able to learn and reflect together about matters of vocation, the relationship between faith and the academy, and the university's engagement with the church and culture.

Apart from these times, most of the day is left for exploring the trails around Laity Lodge, swimming, fishing, reading, painting, sculpting, or simply resting. Meals are unhurried to allow plenty of time for conversation with colleagues.

Here are comments from some previous retreat participants:

“I believe that in order to offer students transformational education, Baylor must create transformational opportunities for faculty and staff across the disciplines to think deeply, together, about the work in which we are engaged. The Communio retreat is exactly that. This year's retreat was like a microcosm of what Baylor aspires to be. It was intentionally rigorous, thoughtfully and prayerfully Christian, and focused on questions of vocation, including ways in which Baylor can serve students and the world.”

“'Invigorating' and 'enlightening' are two words that may very well be the best way to describe my overall experience at Laity Lodge.”