Ascla Hosts The First-Ever Claretian Discerning Leadership Workshop

Feb 20, 2023 | ASCLA East, ASCLA West, Congregation

“Discernment” has been one of the defining themes of the papacy of Pope Francis. In keeping with the congregational tradition of thinking and feeling with the universal Church (“sentire cum ecclesia”), developing a “culture of discernment” has become a focal theme for Claretian missionaries, very specially since XXVI General Chapter. In fact, the Congregation has dreamed of being a community that has “grown in [its] capacity for discernment” (QC 45) so much so that Claretian communities have become living spaces of discernment (cf. QC 57c), with “an attitude of discernment of God’s will” (QC 62) and “a constant discernment to detect and respond to emerging and unforeseen missionary needs” (QC 64a).

Towards realizing this Dream, the General Government, in discernment with the Major Superiors at the Meet at Nairobi, launched a “Claretian Discerning Leadership Workshop” (CDLW) that seeks to multiply discerning leaders across various strata in the Congregation. Towards this, Frs. Gonzalo Fernández Sanz and Paulson Veliyannoor, who had already received training in discerning leadership organized by Jesuits in Rome, were asked to team up and lead the workshop at the conference levels.

The first of CDLW was held jointly for the two conferences in Asia – ASCLA East & ASCLA West – from February 1 to 14 at the curia of the Province of St Thomas, Karukutty, India. There were 30 participants drawn from all 10 major organisms of ASCLA. Nearly all major superiors of the conferences were present, along with either a couple of council members or other members in key leadership.

The two-week CDLW consisted of 12 modules that dealt with various aspects of leadership, discernment, Claretian key, synodality, team work, conflict transformation, polarity management, etc. The workshop dynamics included input sessions, personal and group reflection, generative conversations in small groups as well as organism-level groups, self-assessment tests, and group exercises. Such dynamics effectively covered the imperatives of exercising leadership in personal and synodal discernment using Claretian keys, in order to respond effectively to the multi-contextual challenges of today.

The group also enjoyed a cultural evening with the students of St. Xavier’s School run by Claretians of St. Thomas Province, and a daylong outing at the Bhoothathankettu Hydel Project. The evaluation of the CDLW was overwhelmingly positive. Daily news bulletins and interviews were aired by the communications team at CDLW, which are available on YouTube at: Claret Media Online

The task of ASCLA conferences now is to organize briefer workshops at the level of each major organism for more members, thereby multiplying discerning leaders. To this effect, both conferences have charted out initial plan of action. The participants have also drafted a letter to all brothers of ASCLA, which can be accessed here.

The full-scale workshop for ACLA will now be held from March 1-14 at Yaoundé in Cameroon; for ECLA, from May 1-14 at Vic, Spain; and for MICLA, from July 3-16 at Medellin, Colombia.

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