Georgetown University’s Catholic Campus Ministry will expand this August, when Jennifer Reis assumes the newly created position of Director of Catholic Retreats and Immersion Programs.

Reis, currently the campus minister of retreats, spirituality and prayer at Emmanuel College in Boston, will be assuming an unprecedented role in the Georgetown community.

Although she was not actively seeking a new job, Reis felt called to the position when it was presented to her, stressing the role of Georgetown’s campus atmosphere in her decision.

“I have to say I felt so very welcome. There was a really great sense of hospitality that was shown my way,” she said. “My first hope is [to] get to know the Georgetown community.”

Reis will be partially filling a vacancy left by Catherine Heinhold, former director of Catholic Chaplaincy and director of retreats, who left Georgetown at the end of the 2009-2010 academic school year. Heinhold was also the creator of the spring break in El Salvador immersion program. Following her departure, Campus Ministry decided to create the new position in order to better manage the multiple responsibilities that Heinhold’s job entailed.

“To be more realistic about a new person at Georgetown, we decided to change the job description,” said Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., executive director of Campus Ministry.

The search committee, comprised of Campus Ministry leadership, began reviewing applications this January. After narrowing down the pool, three applicants were brought to campus in late February to be interviewed before the Catholic Chaplaincy leadership, the Campus Staff Ministry, Campus Ministry Interfaith members, a panel of students and O’Brien.

The search committee’s decision was based on the candidates’ personal experiences with college campus ministry and retreats, their passion for working with students and their own senses of faith.

“A really important thing for the people of the selection committee was that the candidates be steeped in Ignatian spirituality,” said Kevin Kuehl (SFS ’11), the undergraduate student representative on the formal search committee.

Kuehl was chosen as part of the committee because of his continued involvement in Campus Ministry retreats. He also works in the retreat office, which he said helps him better understand the logistical workings of Georgetown’s programs.

Both Kuehl and the members of the student panel who interviewed Reis stressed the importance of the new director reaching out to students who are not generally attracted to Campus Ministry and empower those already involved.

“When you’re creating a new position, you need to be innovative because this has never been done before,” said Marya Pulaski (COL ’13), a member of the student panel that interviewed the final three candidates. “This person should try to give a new energy to Campus Ministry and broaden the group of students it serves,” Pulaski said.

Reis was ultimately chosen because of her extensive experience in developing retreat programs at Emmanuel College and her emphasis on collaboration among the different religious sects of Campus Ministry as a whole, according to O’Brien.

“All were impressed by her innate kindness, sensitivity and openness to others,” he said. “I was also impressed by her desire to build an inclusive ministry, welcoming to all.”

O’Brien added that he hopes Reis will stimulate the further growth of Georgetown’s retreats in numbers and format, as well as possibly creating another immersion program.

Campus Ministry is currently reviewing applications for the Director of Jewish Chaplaincy, the Director of the Protestant Chaplaincy and the Director of Liturgy and Music. These positions will be filled by May 15.

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