This year, our community went through the rigorous exercise of electing our leaders, thereby cementing them for the next 6 years. My spouse and I were privileged to be part of the Electoral College at Pedro Arrupe Retreat Centre in Raia. We were elected by a democratic process which was like any others. Needless to say, we were honored to represent our community and elect our new Sector Heads and District Head. At this point, we were blissfully unaware of what was yet to come at the three-day in-house retreat.
We arrived at Raia at about 8:00 am, just in time for breakfast. After quickly breaking our fast and exchanging a few pleasantries with the other members, we gathered at the Chapel where the whole procedure of the elections was explained to us. We immediately realized what we were in for and that this was no ordinary elections. We would be voting after much praying and discerning with the help of the Holy Spirit. This would also entail praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and be asking the Lord to give us the discernment to elect the leaders who would guide us for the next 6 years.
The first round was to discern and nominate members of our community other than those who were already voted and in positions earlier from different regions. Even if a single name was suggested by any of the members of the Electoral College, that name would be nominated for final selection. Of course, at the end of the day, only those candidates who had the minimum qualifications for the positions would be eligible for the final selection.
The next level was a group discussion where the representatives of each sector met and reviewed the positive characteristics of all the eligible candidates. This exercise was truly enlightening as we began to understand our own leaders from different perspectives, not known to us earlier. This was both an informative and humbling exercise because we realized how short each one of us fell compared to the work done by our leaders. It also put us in a very informative mindset to go for the final selection process. All this was done with continuous prayers, praise & worship before the Blessed Sacrament and praising the Lord at all times. The whole process was both secretive and dignified just like the elections of the Holy Father. We were very privileged to be part of this wonderful exercise.
I realized that there were many who were elected to be electors but did not turn up and further there were others who did show up on the first day but did not return beyond that. It was these members who were the losers, not the community. They did not have the patience to be there even for a day or two.Historically there were Papal conclaves which went for months before they could elect the Pope. Truly these are spiritual exercises by themselves and it is only the Holy Spirit which can give us the strength to go through the whole process.
In the end, we did elect our representatives but what happened to us those three days is worth sharing. We had three days of self-searching within ourselves. The Lord was asking us- Who do you say I am? Where do you stand in your community? Are you giving your best to the community? We had interaction with participants who shared in the work they did in their community. I was convicted by the Lord to be more proactive in whatever I did. The message was loud and clear.
Grow wherever you are planted!!
by Alfredo M. Cotta, Household Leader, Caranzalem Chapter.
Photography by William, Caranzalem Chapter.
For more photos check it on our Facebook Page.