18th Annual GWish Art of Presence Retreat - Assisi, Italy

A sunset over a church in Assisi, Italy

August 15-21, 2023

The annual GWish Art of Presence Retreat offers a sacred space for you to contemplate your own spirituality and deepen your commitment to your call to serve. This retreat is designed for health care practitioners—doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, chaplains—as well as other professionals open to deepening their spiritual lives. All seekers are welcome, regardless of faith, belief system, or culture.

Now is your chance to visit a contemplative and beautiful city, visited by millions each year. During this one-of-a-kind retreat, we will experience a much-needed pause and reflect on what gives meaning in our lives. We will also explore the importance of being present not only with our patients, but with ourselves.

City of Assisi, Italy in daylight

GWish Retreat: A Spiritual Experience

Health professionals and providers from many disciplines who care for patients and families are invited to participate in an interdisciplinary retreat designed to provide respite and renewal, reflection and nourishment, and to re-ignite your passion for your vocation.

Experience what it means to be a compassionate presence to those you serve. Understand the role of personal boundaries as you care for those who are deeply suffering and explore how your own spirituality enables you to practice compassionate presence.

Dedicate this time to your professional well-being through reflection, small group sharing, journaling, meditation, and taking time for yourself.

In this retreat you will:

  • Experience peaceful presence through meditation, journaling, and sharing.
  • Learn tools, skills, and rituals to share with patients and colleagues.
  • Reflect on your own commitment to your chosen vocation.
  • Reinforce personal boundaries when caring for patients.
  • Meet in small groups to listen, share, and support.
  • Explore your own spirituality and how it helps you be present to the people you serve, especially those who are suffering.
  • Give yourself time off from the everyday demands of your work.
  • Earn CE credits for participating.

Join us for the GWish Art of Presence Retreat and bring a deeper meaning and purpose to your practice. Set aside August 15-21, 2023 to contemplate your call to serve at the GWish Art of Presence Retreat.



Sign up for GWish announcements to be notified of open registration.

GWish Retreats: Facilitators for This Year’s Art of Presence Retreat:

Christina Puchalski

Christina Puchalski, MD, FACP, FAAHPM Physician and Founder of The George Washington University Institute for Spirituality*

Carolyn Jacobs

Carolyn Jacobs, PhD, MSW.
Contemplative Social Work Leader, Spiritual Director, and Educator

Mario Cagna

Mario Cagna, MDiv. Chaplain, Pastoral Care, Genoa, Italy

Edward O'Donnell

Edward O'Donnell, M.A.
Spiritual Director and Educator

Registration is now closed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the venue for the retreat?

Monastero di Sant'Andrea
Vicolo Sant'Andrea, Assisi, Italy

Registration is now closed.

Who should attend this retreat?

This retreat is designed for health care practitioners—doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, physical/occupational therapists, chaplains—as well as other professionals open to deepening their spiritual lives. All seekers are welcome, regardless of faith, belief system, or culture.

Registration is now closed.

Do I make my own travel arrangements?

Yes, please make your own travel arrangements. Please contact Cherron Gardner Thomas at
gwish@gwu.edu if you have any questions. Plan to arrive at the Monastero di Sant'Andrea on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. The retreat starts at 7:30pm with dinner followed by the opening session. The retreat ends at noon on Monday, August 21st.

Fly into Fiumicino Airport, Rome. There is a train that will take you to the Train Station in Rome called Roma Termini. From there you can get trains to Assisi, Italy and take a brief cab ride to the Monastery. The journey from Roma Termini to Assisi is approximately 2 hours and 51 minutes by train. Alternatively, if you rent a car or taxi at the airport it will take approximately 2.5 hours.

Registration is now closed.

What is the registration cost for attending the GWish 2023 retreat?
  • Tuition fee: $1,095
  • $250 deposit holds a space. Deposit due May 1, 2023. Full payment due by Monday, July 1, 2023. Our website will be updated with a link for online payment.
  • Air/ground transportation and lodging with meals is not included in the registration. The cost of lodging with meals will be paid in euros at the monastery by each attendee.

Registration is now closed.

What is included in the registration cost of $1,095.00?
Six-day retreat that includes contemplative practices, presentations from leaders, group sharing, reflection, time for quiet, time to explore the city of Assisi, tools for clinical practice of compassionate presence.

Registration is now closed.

What is the cost for accommodation and meals?
Double occupancy room and meals are estimated at 380 Euros each; single occupancy room and meals estimated at 395 Euros per person as available. This will be paid in euros during the retreat. City tax of 6 Euros per person (for three nights only) to be paid in cash.

Registration is now closed.

Are there any scholarships available?
A limited number of scholarships are available for those working in underserved areas. Scholarships cover registration and room and board; the participant will need to cover their own travel and airfare. Scholarship application deadline: July 1, 2023. If you’re interested in a scholarship, please contact Cherron Gardner-Thomas at gwish@gwu.edu.
What is your refund policy?

Refund Policy 2023

Retreat Tuition for 2023 is $1,095. You can register using a $250 deposit to hold your space. The deposit will be refunded if a written request is received on or before May 31, 2023; after that date the deposit is nonrefundable.

Full Registration Refund Policy:

  • Written cancellations received before Friday, June 16, 2023 are eligible for a full refund.
  • Written cancellations received between June 16, 2023 and July 1, 2023 are eligible for a refund of 50%, minus a $50 processing fee.
  • Tuition is not refundable after July 1, 2023.
    • Registrations can be transferred to a colleague, with a written authorization from the original registrant.

Registration is now closed.

Will I get CE credits for attending the retreat?
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACGME) to provide continuing education credits to physicians and nurses. Other attendees receive a certificate of completion to submit to their accrediting bodies for consideration of credits.

Registration is now closed.

Registration is now closed.