Donna Egge Reflects on First Cohort Retreat

What a gift it was to be a part of our NPH Charter Cohort Leaders’ first formal retreat! As part of their ongoing formation, retreats are an integral part of our US leadership program. Along with a priest from NPH Honduras, and Cheryl Sesnon, Consultant and Leadership Trainer for our NPH National Directors, the three of us facilitated discussions on various themes. Since our young people had just been the Featured Guests at their FIRST EVER FRIENDS GALA, fundraising event for NPH…we took time for their impressions and reflections! Everything from “I can’t believe all these people want to help US, without even “KNOWING” us, to the uncomfortableness in the experience of something SO NEW to each of them. People all dressed up, and fancy tables and fancy food and the auction!! That was especially intriguing to them! We were able to share with each of them, how ultimately proud we were of them, their courage, their smiles, and their willingness to jump in and help raise money for their family, their brothers and sisters!

During these retreats we want our young adults to have regularly scheduled times in a safe, facilitated environment to share and reflect on their experiences of homesicknesses, newness, observations, comparisons, classes, relationships etc, while helping them to build an identity of a “team” here in the Northwest. They are pioneers of this NPH Generation.

Other themes included Living in a Land of the Plenty.  Fr helped us explore this theme inviting our young adults to share their experiences of “plentitude” in light of the gospel and teachings of Jesus.  They have been living here for just over a month. They have experienced many examples of “plentitude”.  Julissa shared that having her host family ask her each and every day, how she is, and how are her classes and listening to her, has been an experience of plentitude!  The plentitude of food and huge beds and their own bedrooms and available transportation (insert other examples here) were just a few of their astute observations. Then the opportunity presents itself to integrate these amazing experiences of plentitude with their lives in NPH…what examples of plentitudes they experienced there…and finding the spiritual plentitudes…comparing them with material plentitudes…talking, reflecting, wrestling with these truths and holding deep the gifts of family they have received in their NPH family.

Cheryl Sesnon then had time with them to talk specifically about leadership development. Difficulties and challenges of being leaders anywhere in the world, new styles of leadership in this generation, what kinds of leaders they imagine themselves to be. She listened to them share their ideas and dreams, fears and worries. She will be working with our program during the year sharing resources, strategies and more opportunities for them to integrate their experiences and learning with their own lives.  She even gave them a homework assignment to ponder: “What are some of the difficult ethical dilemmas for a leader?  What are some of the skills you need to have in order to be an effective leader?”

We shared laughter, song and music (in English, Creole and Spanish) in an environment of faith and rich cultures. Teambuilding activities rounded out our retreat!

A big thanks to Julie Callahan who provided us with a stupendous location, amazing hospitality and celebrated with us at days end over a simple delicious meal.  We continue on this journey together…reflecting, learning, growing, sharing in a sacred, loving atmosphere!

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