For Immediate Release
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Georgian Court University Set to Begin Virtual Pilgrimage

Season of Advent Begins Campus Community’s “Journey” to Bethlehem

Lakewood, N.J., Nov. 28, 2011—Georgian Court University is hosting an online pilgrimage for GCU students, faculty, staff and alumni throughout the season of Advent. The virtual journey will take place Wednesday, November 30, through Sunday, December 25, when the participants “arrive” at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., ’72, describes the online journey as an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the spiritual gifts of the holiday season.

“Sometimes in the busy time of Christmas preparations, finding the right gift, and going to parties, we lose sight of the invitation Christmas gives to us each year to think anew how we can bring light and love into our world as Christ did,” she said. “Like pilgrims of old, we travel together in this Georgian Court community; and we learn from each other as we are together on a journey that will help each one of us become our best selves. That seems to me to be what Christmas is really about.”

Participants will begin registering Tuesday, Nov. 29 at www.georgian.edu/pilgrimage as they “pack” for the experience that is also considered a wellness, meditational, and educational journey. Online, participants will later log in to the full pilgrimage Web site to see how far the group has traveled and photos of the places visited. And because the pilgrimage is also tied to physical activity, participants can log in to report any time they spend in physical (walking, running, cardio) or spiritual activity (praying and meditation).

Participants are encouraged to bookmark the site and return daily for guided scriptures and meditations, and to read the pilgrims’ virtual travelogue as they encounter historic sites—from parts of Italy to Istanbul and plenty of places in between—during the journey. A blog at www.pilgrimage.gcublogs.org provides an additional space for pilgrims to reflect and share their thoughts during the journey.

Susan Field, Ph.D., professor of psychology and department chair, offered a sneak preview of the pilgrimage.

“We're going to start at GCU, ‘walking’ to JFK Airport and flying to Heathrow Airport in England,” she said. “Then we'll go to the inn on the outskirts of London where the pilgrims of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales started their travels and repeat their pilgrimage.”

Dr. Field says that a few of the many stops along the way include the Santiago de Compostella in Spain, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Italy, Presentation House in Ireland, and the House of St. Peter Capernaum in Israel.

Volunteers are organizing the journey, which has been in the planning stages for months, across campus departments. Faculty in disciplines from psychology and biology to theology and multimedia/graphic design are working to stage the virtual event in coordination with the Sisters of Mercy, student members of GCU’s Mercy Collegiate Society, and other staff members.

For more information about the pilgrimage, contact Dr. Susan E. O. Field by e-mail at field@georgian.edu or at 732.987.2643.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves more than 2,500 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at One Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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