Christo-centric leadership retreat transforms participants

By Jacob Peenikaparambil

Indore, April 21, 2019: An Indore-based movement of value education for peace has helped hundreds of Christians to rediscover Jesus and reinvent themselves and their works in the past one decade.

“My expectation of having a deeper encounter with Jesus and understanding his mission and recommitting myself to my mission is fulfilled,” says Father Roy Thomas, a participant of the latest Christo Centric Leadership Retreat held during the Holy Week at the headquarters of the Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace.

The USM “is a community where all are welcomed warmly and made to feel at home, wanted and respected with dignity,” the Divine Word priest wrote about the venue of the April 14-20 retreat.

He was among three priests, 10 sisters from four different congregations, two Franciscan brothers and Mary Dasan, a lay person, who participated in the retreat.

At the end, all said they found the retreat a unique experience.

“It is totally different from the traditional retreats in which we used to participate, because of the content, methodology and the venue,” Father Roy explained.

Another participant said the retreat convinced him of the need for developing personal spirituality, focusing on contemplation. “I also have become aware of the importance of self-discipline and self-education,” he added.

Another said she realized the need to shift from religiosity to spirituality to become an authentic disciple of Jesus.” Jesus has called me to be a follower of Jesus and not to remain as a devotee.”

The retreat helped the participants understand the need to promote respect for all religions and become inclusive in their approach to be relevant in the present context of India.

At the same time, it convinced them that evangelization is continuing the mission of Jesus in the present context.

USM conducts this retreat every month. The main participants have been bishops, superiors general and provincial teams of religious congregations, and principals of schools and colleges.

Bishops of Amaravati, Baxur and Patna had come with a group priests from their dioceses. During the last 10 years USM has conducted retreats for 65 groups with 1,017 participants. The participants included 18 bishops in different batches.

The retreat starts with meditatively watching the movie, Jesus of Nazareth with appropriate commentary by the facilitator and drawing out insights and learning through interactive sessions for application to day to day life.

These insights help the participants solve problems and make Jesus alive through their life and activities.

The input sessions that follow the movie are designed to:
• Deepen the understanding of the participants their call, vision and mission
• Make the participants capable of analyzing the present day socio- political, religious and cultural context and challenges
• Respond to the challenges effectively by following the way of Jesus
• Prepare an action plan for personal life and for the community/province/diocese.

The main input sessions are:
1) Call, Vision and Mission
2) Principles of Vision Formulation
3) Paradigm Shift from Religiosity to Spirituality
4) Challenges before the Church in India
5) Response to the Strategies of Fundamentalists
6) Paradigm Shift in Evangelization and
7) Practical Tips for Spiritual Growth.

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