January 22, 2016

New director of Fatima Retreat House is eager to help others in their spiritual lives

By John Shaughnessy

Georgene BeirigerGeorgene Beiriger shakes her head in amusement when she thinks about the plans she had for retirement—and the different plan that God has for her.

Instead of retiring in a year from her leadership position with an Indianapolis engineering company, Beiriger has agreed to become the new director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.

“I am very excited to join the staff at Fatima,” says Beiriger, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis who has served on Fatima’s advisory board. “When I first heard of the opportunity, I felt a deep sense that this is where I am to find my purpose and meaning, that this is where God wants to use me at this time in my life. God and I definitely have different ideas about what retirement is.”

The plan is for the 58-year-old Beiriger to officially start as Fatima’s director by May 1. She will succeed Father James Farrell, who has led the retreat center since 2008.

“Georgene brings a perfect mix of business acumen and deep faith to her role and responsibilities at Fatima,” says Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship. “It seems that God has been preparing her for this ministry for a long time. With her skills in business and ministry, she has the experience to lead people while at the same time safeguarding and expanding the mission of one of our archdiocesan spiritual centers.”

Father Beidelman also praised Father Farrell, calling him “in so many ways, the face and the heart of Fatima.”

“This gives us the opportunity to transition Father Jim to a position that allows us to utilize the best of his gifts without placing more administrative duties on this hard-working and dedicated priest,” Father Beidelman says. “Along with many capable and passionate co-workers, Father Jim has held the mission of Fatima in sacred trust and has encouraged others to do so, too.”

Father Farrell will continue to be involved at Fatima, leading retreats and serving as the center’s director of mission advancement. He will also continue as the pastor of St. Pius X Parish and the priest moderator of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, both in Indianapolis.

Father Farrell also praised the selection of Beiriger, noting how he worked with her often during his six years as pastor of St. Barnabas Parish from 2002 to 2008.

“Immediately, she struck me as a conscientious, prayerful and talented steward of God’s many gifts,” Father Farrell recalls. “Georgene organized and coordinated various spiritual opportunities, and then she led them. Balanced and faithful in her spiritual life, Georgene brings to Fatima a Spirit-led desire to accomplish the will of God in her life. Georgene’s experience and education seem uniquely suited to support and guide Fatima.”

Beiriger’s excitement for leading Fatima flows from the difference she has seen it make to so many people, including her, as “a holy place of rest and revelation of God’s love and mercy.”

“I am so impressed with the work Fatima does,” she says. “I believe and fully support what we are doing within the archdiocese, not only for spiritual renewal and enrichment of Catholics and people of all faiths, but also the programs that reach out to those of us in pain and those of us who are disadvantaged in life for various reasons. In response to the Holy Father’s call to be a Church of Mercy, I want to see Fatima’s presence and impact grow significantly in the archdiocese.”

Beiriger has been married 37 years to her husband Joe, and she is the mother of a grown daughter. Beyond the 30 years of business and administrative experience that she will bring to her new role at Fatima, she also has a deep faith background. She has served in retreat ministry in the past, and she is currently a certified spiritual director.

“I am invested in using my gifts to the benefit of the spiritual growth of others. This is my passion,” she says. “But while the foundation of this work is faith in Jesus Christ, the essential work that Fatima does by so many gifted and talented staff members, presenters and volunteers requires a sound organizational framework within which to flourish. Building upon its current sound framework is where I desire—and feel called—to give back to my Church.”

Through the next few months, Beiriger will be assisted in her transition to becoming Fatima’s director by Father Farrell and Sandy Pasotti, the retreat center’s longtime associate director of guest services and operations.

Pasotti announced in October that she would be leaving her position at Fatima in the spring of 2016 to become the associate director of development and events at Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis.

“We were blessed at Fatima to benefit from Sandy’s leadership for these past 11-plus years,” says Father Farrell. “Through the years, her job as associate director kept growing. Sandy hosted groups that came in to rent the facility, she prepared the annual budget, and she oversaw the entire daily operation of the retreat house. She also worked alongside the board in solidifying the annual Gala and overseeing the Annual Spring Appeal, both of which have grown tremendously.

“Sandy has done much more than required of her, and did it all without drawing attention to herself. She uses her variety of talents in loving service to the Body of Christ.”

In a letter to “friends of Fatima” in October, Pasotti wrote, “I am excited for this new opportunity ahead of me, and I do believe it is where I am being called. At the same time, it is always difficult to leave a place where friendships and strong connections are made, and where I have tried to use my gifts to the best of my ability to support a critical and important ministry for those in our archdiocese and beyond.”

At the time, Pasotti also noted, “I believe this is an opportunity for the leadership of the archdiocese to continue to grow the ministry of Fatima in the direction that our God and our Holy Father are calling us to.”

The archdiocese embraced that opportunity, and it has led to a desire of the heart for Beiriger. Fatima’s new director says, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to employ my experience and gifts to the benefit of something much greater than I ever imagined.”

(For more information on Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House, log on to www.archindy.org/fatima.)

Local site Links: