Georgetown University Retreat Under Construction in Blue Ridge Mountains

BERRYVILLE, Va. — Dozens of Georgetown University representatives met at the Battletown Inn on West Main Street Wednesday night to hear an update on the Calcagnini Contemplative Center, currently under construction on the Blue Ridge Mountain in Clarke County.

Arthur Calcagnini, a 1954 graduate of Georgetown, and his wife, Nancy Calcagnini, donated $17 million to the university in 2010 for the purchase of about 55 acres of land in Clarke County and the construction of a center to house a chapel, community and dining halls and 28 cabins.

The contemplative center will be used exclusively for university activities, especially the ESCAPE retreats that Arthur Calcagnini champions, he said before a small reception.rnNon denomenational ESCAPE retreats – for which the Calcagninis previously donated a $1.5 million endowment – are overnight trips where first-year Georgetown students can reflect on their spirituality and other aspects of their own lives away from the university’s Washington, D.C., campus, Arthur Calcagnini said.

The ESCAPE program has been ongoing since 1991, and thousands of students have participated. Calcagnini said the first year of college can be overwhelming, but that the retreats offer those students a chance to get away and to have an experience that will help them later in life.

Nancy Calcagnini said she and her husband looked throughout Virginia and Maryland for land suitable for the contemplative center and that one day, completely by accident, they were on a picnic in Clarke County and found the spot where the center is being constructed. “We got out of the car … and we both just said ‘This is it