Entering into Their Labor: ITCE Team Begins New Mission with Retreat

“For one saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” John 4:37

On July 5, 2022, Sister Mary Agnes Greiffendorf, O.P., Ph.D., welcomed Daryl Hagan, Ed.D. and Andrew Kremer, Ph.D. to The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, for their official start as Director and Associate Director for the new Program of K-12 Catholic School Accreditation. The following day, the rest of the ITCE team, Sagra Alvarado-Hardy, Ed.M., ITCE Program Manager, and Keelan Scharbach, Accreditation Administrative Assistant, joined them for a week of orientation and onboarding. “After launching the Institute in October as the sole employee, it is such a gift to now truly have an ITCE team!” Sister Mary Agnes shared.

On July 6, the ITCE team gathered at the Busch School of Business’ Maloney Hall for a staff retreat led by Father Jonah Teller, O.P. The Dominican Friar began the day with a spiritual conference on what it means to be an apostle and the importance of keeping Christ as the focal point of ITCE’s professional endeavors. In reference to the passage from Leviticus 6:8–13, “Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out,” Father Jonah explained that our hearts are the “altars of the tabernacle” and that constant prayer is critical to keep the fire burning. He heeded, “do not let your altar become a desk.” The ITCE team took Father Jonah’s guidance to heart as Sagra reflects, “It was edifying to hear Father Jonah’s reflection on trusting in God’s providence, rather than ourselves.” Father Jonah also noted that ITCE is entering into a labor started by many other saints who’ve led the charge in education—several of which are ITCE patron saints—like Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Saint Edith Stein. With God’s timing, ITCE enters into the labor of these saintly figures and in turn, will plant seeds that will be harvested in ways that remain to be seen! After private reflection and a group discussion, Father Jonah Teller O.P., concluded the spiritual conference with Mass at the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel.

Afterwards, the ITCE team spent time in prayer and reflection at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. During this time, they pondered on Saint John Paul’s emphasis on the dignity of the human person and how his legacy relates to ITCE’s endeavors. To conclude the retreat, the team joined in prayer with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Our Lady Queen of Preachers House of Studies for Evening Prayer, supper, and Night Prayer. Andrew explains, “Our retreat at CUA culminated with beautiful prayers at Our Lady Queen of Preachers Convent and led us to a continued conversion of our hearts. It was a reminder of the gift of the vocation of Catholic education and serving alongside the faithful religious. I have been blessed to serve with many Nashville Dominican Sisters; their witness has strengthened my faith and led to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.” After a day filled with prayer and reflection, the ITCE team was ready for the next two days filled with introductions and strategy meetings. Sister Mary Agnes introduced the team to Dean Tom Smith and other key collaborators in the School of Arts and Sciences and facilitated meetings with some of the Institute’s key partners.

With these introductions and preparations, the ITCE team is prepared to dive into their work of service to Catholic education!