The annual School Leaders Retreat for school leaders from across the province was held at the Mercy Center, Burlingame, California, October 2-5, 2023. The leaders gathered for a spiritual retreat focused on connecting with the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice, and the Leadership of Moses. The retreat provided an opportunity for leaders to reflect on their call to serve and to deepen their relationship with Christ. Brother Peter Zawot, CFC. Provincial Leader provided opening remarks and thanked each school leader for their commitment to the mission of our consortium of Schools.
Aidan Donaldson and Brother Dennis Gleason shared from their new book, Beauty Through Broken Windows and renewed our connection to the charism of Blessed Edmund; they framed it by sharing stories of modern applications of Blessed Edmund’s mission to serve the poor and marginalized. Aidan and Brother Gleason were followed by Cormac McArt, Director of the Westcourt Centre in Belfast, Norther Ireland. Cormac shared the work he and his colleagues do with schools and with the homeless. School leaders were challenged by the Belfast Brigade, to look through their own windows and address the needs in their communities.
On the second day of the retreat attendees explored the Leadership of Moses as a framework for viewing their own leadership. The retreat was developed by Sr. Catherine Powers, CND, but facilitated by Dr. Ritchie-Bonomo when Sr. Catherine was unable to attend.
Participants engaged in some guided spiritual reflections, small group discussions to share their experiences, challenges, and aspirations as Catholic school leaders. In addition, participants celebrated Mass together, uniting in prayer and fellowship. The liturgy was celebrated by Father Robert Sullivan, brother of Palma School Principal, David Sullivan.
One participant noted, “The Networking is the absolute key to this experience for me. Every moment I get to spend with the others school leaders is cherished. Just being around this group of amazing people, all of whom are dedicated to the same goal, to the same mission, to the same charism, and to the same vision, fills my heart. When we are together, I truly feel like our leadership has ONE heartbeat. I’m proud to be able to call myself a colleague to these fine people. Michigan football coach, Bo Schembechler said, “Once a person has made a commitment to a way of life, they put the greatest strength in the world behind them. It’s something we call heart power. Once a person has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.” Simply put, this group has Heart Power “The small group discussions were incredibly insightful. I was able to learn from the experiences of my colleagues and gain new perspectives on leadership.”