Between 31 October and 1 November, following one month of dynamic experiences, internships and lectures, Fellows of the European Leadership Programme (ELP) devoted their time to a weekend spiritual retreat under the guidance of Father Peter Rožič SJ.
This last weekend provided us with an opportunity to deepen our personal and professional attitudes and helped us become a community by learning about and use the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius, including the famous “examen”. Periods of examen were followed by group discussions, which helped us reflect on our time since arriving in Brussels to work in European Institutions, Governmental Offices and NGOs. In this fast-paced environment we managed to find a moment to stop and think about what we have done and what lies ahead of us, not only in Brussels but for the rest of our lives.
Moderated by Father Peter, we discussed many possible ways of conflict resolution which is especially important in times as unpredictable as the COVID-19 pandemic is. Afternoon sessions gave us the opportunity to learn more about the principles of Ignatian Spirituality such as discernment and detachment which will serve us as useful tools in fulfilling our mission to achieve a common societal good through our professional work.
We concluded our Saturday retreat with the contemplation to attain divine love to the aim of which is to be aware of the gracious and abundant love of God and to respond in generosity and freedom.
During these challenging times where the influx of new information is extremely rapid, especially in terms of COVID-19, it is often necessary to spend time in silence and meditation and subsequently share our thoughts with the community. The first global pandemic of the 21st century is challenging us every day and the opportunity to have a spiritual retreat has prepared us to cope with the pandemic’s demands.
The following day, we reflected on the qualities of leadership, cohesive team building and how these skills can be applied to the contemporary problems facing the world. We had a thought provoking roundtable discussion on what qualities are desirable and should be prioritized when building a business team, a cabinet in national politics or even a functioning family. We concluded Sunday with some meditation exercises from St. Ignatius.
While the structure of the retreat had to be changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was nevertheless a fruitful experience that helped the fellows contemplate spirituality and leadership on a deeper level.
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