Using the process of discernment at meetings.

During the 2016 year the Board began using the Ignatian Model of decision making. 

Ignatian Method of Group Decision Making *
Key principles:

Free to Express Differences.

Each person is expected to disclose how he or she thinks (judges) the situation to be.

Each participant is also to disclose how he or she feels about each side of the issue.

Is it good or bad? It is very much a question of feeling. And this is where discernment, the sorting out of feelings, comes in.

Honesty requires that effort to determine why each participant feels one way or another about a proposed option.

Separating Pros and Cons.

The appropriate place for conflict and positive persuasion is in the initial phase of the process where the issue for discernment, the question to be decided, is formulated.

Once the process is underway the discussion of positive and negative arguments should be separated. This saves time instead of wasting it.

When debate (proper to formulation stage) displaces dialogue (proper to the discernment process), ears and minds close, points are tallied, and win-lose thinking prevails, making the process vulnerable to the loudest voice, the greatest threat, or the highest emotion.


* Adapted from Byron, Wm. J. SJ, Jesuit Saturdays . . . Loyola Press, 2008

A Process for Group Decision Making

Look at your principles and mission statement. (We covenant together to.....Show up.......Listen with respect......Speak up.......Build up........Be aware of each other and ourselves.........Care about the life of the congregation, the community and the world......Consider prayerfully) Acknowledge the power and presence of the group as larger than the power and presence of any one participant and expect more from the group than could come from the individual.

Have a little quiet time before and during decision-­making meetings. Mutual trust is an indispensable and essential action for good group decisions.

Allow for full participation in the preparation of the agenda, with provision for strong advocacy of a position early in the meeting process. Make careful provision for the accumulation and assimilation of all necessary information.

Provide opportunities for all elements of unease to surface, followed by a quiet time when each participant can reflect on the possible sources of his or her own unease.

Segment the meeting into time “pro” and time “con” with respect to every major issue. In each of these segments, all participants must speak, if only to agree with a point already made.

Whoever chairs the process then tries to “read a consensus” and tests it against the group. If there is no clear consensus, the chair can probe for areas of consensus. At this juncture, some open debate may be useful. As a last resort, the group can decide by vote.

Confirmatory procedures will evolve as the group gains experience with the process.

The output of a good discernment process is clarity. The direction of an ongoing decision-making group is from clarity to clarity. The Jesuit is convinced that inner peace can be found through the discernment process, which leads to decisions that embody clarity. Full respect must be given, however, to the preconditions: freedom, generosity, patience, and a desire to find union with God in prayer. No believer should ever forget that the outstretched hand of God is always there to help.