Malvern Retreat House’s New President Arrives!

Malvern Retreat House’s new president came to work for his first day on Monday, April 4. The Malvern Retreat House family is happy to welcome our new president.  More information about his background is below:

Malvern Retreat House –  

The Nation’s Premiere Retreat Center for Men and Women –

Names Mark J. Poletunow as its President

“After an extensive national search, Mark Poletunow, a long-time leader in Catholic ministry in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area, gained the unanimous approval of the Malvern Board of Directors on February 10th,” said Board President Joseph Nardi.

Poletunow will succeed Mr. James Fitzsimmons, who is retiring April 3, 2016.

“During this time of the New Evangelization, Jim Fitzsimmons has expanded the mission of Malvern beyond the traditional weekend men’s retreats, to a center that addresses the spiritual needs of the men, women, young adults, teenagers, couples and families, with specific programs for prayer and reflection. As we look to the future, Malvern’s Board has confidence that Mark Poletunow will plant the seeds to grow Malvern’s mission to reach the entire Faith-based community,” said Nardi.

“I am humbled by my selection to lead Malvern Retreat House and I am grateful to be able to use my professional and pastoral experience to enhance its heritage as a sacred place where men and women of all ages come to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, through the retreat experience,” said Poletunow.

Poletunow comes to Malvern, with nearly 20 years in non-profit leadership and a Master’s degree in Theology. Most recently, he’s served as Assistant Executive Director of the Ministry of Caring in Wilmington, Delaware. There he was responsible for the financial, programmatic and operational activity of the $10 million multi-faceted agency.

“Accepting the position as President of Malvern Retreat House allows me to answer my own sense of personal mission to be an instrument to enhance, heal and encourage people who are searching for the presence of God, no matter their circumstance in life,” said Poletunow.

Poletunow, who is fluent in Spanish, believes that skill can help develop Malvern’s ministry to the growing number of Spanish-speaking Catholics who have come to live in the Philadelphia region. He began serving the Latino Community in the Archdiocese of Washington, as an advocate for immigrants.

Poletunow is a former Catholic priest and Capuchin Franciscan Friar. He received a dispensation and laicization from the Vatican after years of personal discernment. He subsequently married in the Catholic Church. Mark and his wife, Margalita are fully involved in their faith community.

“Poletunow’s reputation, credentials and experiences are exemplary within the religious and non-profit communities,” said Francis Barrett, the chairman of the Presidential Search Committee. “Beginning with more than 80 regional and national candidates, the search committee was diligent in the examination of each individual’s skills and leadership experiences to ensure the Board was presented with finalists well-equipped to drive Malvern’s goals for growth and continued success.

In the last ten years, Malvern has grown.

In 2015, Malvern hosted 20,500 participants, an increase of over fifty percent in recent years. Over the last five years, retreatants have come from every state, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as several international cities.

The programs offered have more than doubled to 250, with high school student retreat programs growing the most. In 2016, Malvern will offer again nearly 25 programs for teenagers seeking a better understanding of and commitment to their Catholic faith.

And on the Malvern campus, an additional 150 bed facility was built to accommodate overnight stays for couples, families and non-traditional groups.

“This is an exciting time for Malvern Retreat House and a new chapter in its history,” said Jacki Delaney, Vice-Chair of the Malvern Board.

Delaney, who also served on the Search Committee, has been instrumental in developing new programs for women to enhance their unique spiritual journeys within their family and business lives.

“I, too, welcome Mark Poletunow, who I see is poised to continue the legacy of the traditional retreat and is ready to explore new retreat possibilities,” said Delaney.

“These last three years, I have enjoyed working closely with Jim Fitzsimmons, my classmate from seminary days,” said Monsignor Joseph Marino, Rector of the Malvern Retreat House. “And now, as Jim retires, I look forward to collaborating with Mark Poletunow, who like his predecessor brings a deep love for the Church and the Church’s fundamental mission of evangelization. In getting to know Mark, I see he has a strong relationship with Christ and exhibits a heart-felt desire to provide tangible opportunities for others to encounter Christ through the Malvern Retreat experience.”

As the region’s leading center for spiritual reflection and growth, Malvern stands at an important crossroads to bring, as Pope Francis has encouraged, mercy and servant leadership among God’s people.

Malvern Retreat House, founded in 1912, is a lay-owned and operated Catholic retreat ministry, located within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Additional information and media interviews can be arranged through the President’s office and Mr. Jim Fitzsimmons at 484-321-2525.

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