On the afternoon of January 22nd, 26 of our Leadership Consultants gathered at the Ignatius House Retreat Center just outside of Atlanta to embark on a Next Level training experience.

The four-day training was to unveil the updated Next Generation Parish curriculum and ensure that at every level, our clients are receiving the highest level of service. Gathering everyone in person allowed for robust learning, deep thought partnership, and graced experiences that only happen when we physically encounter one another.

Linda Banecker, a seasoned consultant, lauded the usefulness and effectiveness of the program. She remarked, “This was a very practical and extremely helpful training. It helped us Leadership Consultants understand what we're trying to deliver and how we should deliver it. It was from my perspective: outstanding.”

For many of our team members, it was a reunion since their last gathering in May of 2023. Participants included the newest cohort of Leadership Consultants and 15 additional support staff members. Lauren Fike, Client Care Coordinator shared, “It was good for me to see what Next Generation Parish looks like for the Leadership Consultants, from start to finish. We had someone from each team sitting at the same table: a Client Service Coordinator along with a Leadership Consultant and a Project Manager.”

The addition of support staff cultivated a sense of unity. Linda said, “It helped me know that there are others involved in this work and gave me a whole new perspective. We’re all in the boat together, and that’s exciting.”

Training sessions on new Next Generation Parish content were followed by practicums where small groups tested the new material and applied their knowledge. Together as teams, Leadership Consultants created SMART Goals, engaged in a card sort activity, crafted parish priorities, and honed their communication skills.

The group also experienced profound prayer and liturgy as they gathered each morning to sit together in silence to reflect on the Scripture and ended each day with evening Mass. A highlight of the week was Archbishop Hartmayer’s visit to offer Mass. In his homily, he spoke words of encouragement and challenged us in our discipleship journey. Time spent together in prayer was the spiritual anchor in the midst of learning.

To Lauren, daily communal prayer was the best part, “Beginning the day in silence and ending it with mass, brought a sense of community that's hard to get when you're remote and seeing remote snippets of people. It made it clear what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

I am grateful for every member of our team and their commitment to our shared value of highest standard of excellence. I saw this week ignite purpose, foster community, and clarify expectations for our team. As we departed, we carried with us not just knowledge and unity, but a renewed sense of our own confidence and competence in ministry.

by Jenn Fiduccia

February 21, 2024

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