“What needs to be done today is to accompany the Church in a deep spiritual renewal. I believe the Lord wants a change in the Church.”
This February we launched the Accompaniment for Discerning Leadership network, a worldwide community of practitioners familiar with Ignatian Spirituality with the aim to accompany and support the alumni of the Discerning Leadership Program. The gathering of the community was originally planned for February 2020 as a 3-day in-person meeting and, in light to the pandemic fallout, was replaced by a series of online workshops that helped build a sense of community and develop a common language and way of proceeding. The conversations were facilitated by the Discerning Leadership team: David McCallum SJ, Sandra Chaoul and Pablo Bernal.
The first cohort is a group of broadly experienced and well-credentialed practitioners representing a wide cross-section of leadership coaching grounded in Ignatian spirituality, spiritual direction, process and organizational consultation, and leading discernment and apostolic planning processes. Participants bring valuable experience from different parts of the globe (20 nationalities, 12 languages covered). They all share a genuine desire to support a movement of spiritual renewal and accompany leaders and organizations on the path of synodality.
Over the past year, the group engaged in a co-creative process exploring together how the accompaniment will unfold. The DL team was very keen to promote shared learning and these online conversations have been a great first step. The format was designed to provide opportunities to slow down, facilitate generative conversations and open spaces for discerning together. Participants greatly valued the opportunity to “network and learn from each others’ experiences” and “help set up a system that supports Church leaders in their mission in this particular time of history”. In the words of one participant: “This has been deeply stimulating and meaningful! I realize that it is not about DOING something for leaders so much as about BEING there and journeying together with them. Our community of practice is a model for me, and this gives me great hope. I pray we grow in confidence and discernment so that we become “works of God” in service of leaders and the synodal Church”. Fr. Abuchi Muoneme SJ also shared his experience in an article published at the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) website.
The group expressed a desire to continue meeting on a regular basis and will be invited to share, learn and engage in peer supervision in the coming months. A number of participants have also joined taskforces to support the development of a conceptual framework document and as well as clarify the principles that will guide the practical side of the accompaniment relationship.
The DL team will be convening a second accompaniment cohort in the second half of the year with further online workshops planned, leading into an international Congress next year in Rome. If you are interested in becoming part of this nascent community of practice or are looking for more details please contact Ms. Sandra Chaoul (firstname.lastname@example.org)