Center For Life Transitions Logo The Jesuit Center Wernersville PA

LifeSHIFT: Work & the Christian Journey
The Jesuit Center

Wernersville, PA
April 25-27, 2014

The largest cohort to ever participate in a LifeSHIFT retreat assembled over the weekend of April 25th to the 27th, 2014 at the storied Jesuit Retreat Center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania. Twenty nine individual looking to apply career psychology, spiritual formation and renewed attention to their faith to their transitions met at the former Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues, a school for aspiring Jesuits from 1930 into the 1960s. As applications to the priesthood declined, the vision turned the famous Boston architecturally designed building and magnificent 3 acre rolling hills to a new mission of providing spiritual direction and programs for the laity.

The LifeSHIFT group consisted of a breadth of ages, career needs and similar numbers of men (12) and women (17). They were evenly divided between those searching for new work and career possibilities and pre-retirees pondering how their experiences and gifts could translate to meaningful activities. LifeSHIFT as a philosophy and program strives for a balance between workshop energy where goals can be set and action steps taken as well as a retreat environment for reflection, solitude and prayer. Presentations, discussion, experiential activities, and individual time are equally represented.

Dan Burr, President of People Express said it well in describing why many people participate in LifeSHIFT.

“It’s sensational what direction can do. The beauty of the human condition is the magic people are capable of when there’s direction.”

The weekend retreat brings resources together to help people find that direction—or take beginning steps on the journey. Ignatius of Loyola would refer to the Latin word “magis” (more, better, and for God’s glory) in his Spiritual Exercises to help people discern direction in their lives. Tom Bachhuber, President of the Board and Executive Director of the Center for Life Transitions and Fr.Bill Sneck, SJ led the 29 sojourners in a variety of weekend activities. Their focus was divided between helping people take action and take in the love of people in the group, their lives and their God in order to feel empowered in their transition, as Henri Nouwen encourages in his “spiritual imperatives” from The Inner Voice of Love.

The agenda for the weekend included:

LifeShift: Work & the Christian Journey Agenda

Day 1 April 25, 2014 – Friday Evening

Welcome and Overview
Introductions and Ice Breaker
Introduction to LifeSHIFT
Spiritual Disciplines and Journaling

Day 2 April 26, 2014 – Saturday

Transitions—Reflections on Career, Work, Vocation & Faith
Facing your Fears
Introduction to Discernment & Ignatian Spirtuality

Life RoadMap Discussion
Strong Interest Inventory
Values Card Sort
Small Groups

Individual Work or Rest
Group Process or Continue Free Time
Supper Silence

Career Flying (Psalm 34) Guided Imagery Activity
Chalice Prayer
Individual Time

Day 3 April 27, 2014 – Sunday

It’s the Time of Your Life
Putting Pieces Together and Next Steps Worksheet
Departure Activity
Balm for the Wilderness
Written Feedback
Closing Prayer I Am With You on the Journey

Individual appointments for Career Transition or Spiritual Direction

Retreatants’ Comments

“The largest benefit was the mix between cognitive/ spiritual was helpful. Realizing that others have been where I am now was helpful. Getting a sense of the areas that I need to do my own spiritual work was very helpful.”

“Thinking through my life with the Road Map tool and the atmosphere of trust were most valued.”

“It was a great time to reflect on life values and future direction—stimulated by a pot pouri of related concepts and thoughts.”

“Hearing that my job issues are not unique and meeting so many people with similar spiritual values especially the course directors was invaluable.”

“The community of seekers, activities and assessments that help me know “me” better; I liked the use of poetry and prayer.”

“Loved the integration of work/career planning and spirituality during the retreat; we are God’s gift and we must use our gifts- life/work spirit must be integrated and so many people don’t.”

“The integration of work and spirituality is absolutely essential- this has been a message piece in all 3 of my careers.

“I loved the quiet and chance to ponder where I am and where God is pushing or guiding me.”

“You have undervalued yourself and you should be doing a 5 day retreat… try to compress the information into handouts and brochures for a weekend retreat—but I still appreciate your enthusiasm and generosity of spirit.”

“Well done! A truly creative approach to integrating spiritual matters with earthly necessities.”