“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” - John 15:16

Catholic Leadership Institute Team, 2023

Catholic Leadership Institute exists to provide leadership formation and consulting services to the Church. It is a calling, and right now, there is more work than there is time in the day! It is vital that we cultivate our relationship with God and each other before we go out as disciples and work to create more vibrant faith communities rooted in Jesus Christ. This is what we ask of our leaders in the Church. When we equip leaders - bishops, priests, deacons, and lay leaders – we are inviting them to invest in the same practices we live out in our own community.

This is one of the reasons why every year we prioritize time together for an in-person experience we call Team Days. This year’s Team Days event took place at the Malvern Retreat Center and included a three-day packed schedule of prayer, workshops, team-building exercises, study time, presentations, and more. It was a chance to learn, collaborate, grow, and praise and worship God together as a team.

The theme for this year’s Team Days surrounded our “Why” as an organization and as individuals. Workshops included writing role descriptions, communications branding, and articulating our “why” with role play scenarios. Breakout sessions for full-time staff gave time to work together on our FY24 Operational Plan while our Leadership Consultants came together to learn about updates to the Next Generation Parish initiative and our Board of Directors met to discuss and approve plans for the coming fiscal year.

Fr. Bob McLaughlin attended Team Days for the first time. He is a priest from the Archdiocese of Newark and a new Leadership Consultant and found the team building and communications exercises especially helpful sharing that, “Team Days was truly a terrific experience both from a community/team building exercise as well as informative/instructional, particularly around the Next Generation Parish and communication pieces.”

Our talented team at CLI is mostly remote and, and while we are intentional about our communication and collaboration throughout our days, there is a continual need and importance to invest in each other as fellow disciples in the mission. Team-building exercises helped us all get to know each other’s personalities, work styles, and families better. The most unusual and effective team-building event during Team Days was a chili cook off competition, hosted at the Desmond Hotel. This competition divided everyone into teams of four with access to the hotel’s pantry and an award-winning chef for guidance. The exercise clearly showed the strengths of each individual and how they led, collaborated, and inspired each other to make the best award-winning chili.

Every day, our minds and hearts were strengthened and united in prayer, beginning with Morning Prayer, with ongoing reflections and the daily offering of Holy Mass. Bishop Désinord Jean, Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, joined us for part of the week and offered a retreat experience with prayer and reflection. He talked about “vocation” and our calling to the mission of the Church. He said, “The only thing He asks of us is to say ‘yes.’ We will not be alone on the road. God is always with us.”

Bishop Jean came to us as a partner in ministry. He knows the mission of CLI based on his own experience of our work with him in the Diocese of Hinche. He shared encouragement with us, as well, stating, “As a bishop, what I learn from Catholic Leadership Institute will impact a lot of people... CLI is helping me build the church of tomorrow and pursue my vocation.” This was encouraging to hear and gave us much to be thankful for as a team.

The Catholic Leadership Institute team is growing by the day. Since the beginning of the year, we have welcomed 5 new full-time staff members and 11 new Leadership Consultants. For some of our newer staff, Team Days was part of their onboarding process. Michelle Sutton began her employment as our Donor Engagement Director a few days before Team Days. Afterward, she shared, “One thing that struck me during the prayer moments was something that Dan mentioned during the interview process. One of the things that he loves about CLI is that people can bring their entire person to work. I experienced it last week: the singers were able to sing, the musicians were able to play, the liturgical ministers were able to serve, and everyone played a part in those moments.”

Just as we bring our whole selves into our mission and roles at CLI, so we bring our whole team together for this renewal of spirit. Several board members were able to join us during Team Days. Not only did they get to experience the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and prayer, but they also came together to approve our operational plan for the coming year. We are grateful for their collaboration, guidance, and direction in our mission.

As Kim Miller, Director of People Operations, reminded us in her workshop on role descriptions, our shared and individual values support a mission much bigger than the daily tasks before us. They serve a calling, a purpose given to each of us. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you – oracle of the Lord – plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” JER 29:11.

Please pray for our team as we return to our homes and workplaces rejuvenated, ready to continue to live our calling in the work at Catholic Leadership Institute. Know that you remain in our daily prayers.

by Mike School

May 17, 2023

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