Preparing the group


  1. Clarify the question or issue to be discussed.
  2. Gather key stakeholders and give them a quick formation on the process.
  3. Establish the group objectives and expectations.
  4. Clarify who is going to make the final decision, the group or a single person.

“Discernment in common is the prior condition for apostolic planning at all levels of the Society’s organisational structure.”

Fr. A. Sosa, Letter 27 Sep 2017


At the beginning of any Discernment in Common it is crucial to clarify the question, we need to understand the context, review the mission and make sure the issue requires a Discernment in Common.

Once the question/issue is clear, we can decide who should take part in the process. The people will be subject matter experts in that particular matter; they might be Jesuits, Lay, Women, and other religious orders, faith and culture. For some people it could be their first Discernment in Common and before the start, they will need to be taught (briefly 1 hour) the basics of Spiritual Conversation and Personal Freedom. The other exercises outlined in these documents can be performed step by step even for the first time. To get the group going and familiar with Discernment in Common it is suggested to perform an example/mock Discernment for a simple issue (example: where should we go for dinner), this will ensure people know the steps of the process and what awaits them. The group will become more united and comfortable the further they go in the process.

The group role and objectives need to be stated at the beginning, what is expected from the group, what follow up will be required and what involved will be needed.

Before the start of any Discernment in Common the relevant authority needs to be clarified, what is the role of the group and who is going to make the final decision, will the group decided based on consensus or will the person in charge take the group suggestion and then make the final decision. When setting up a group attention needs to be placed in any conflicts that may be present like an employee with his direct superior might not feel free to share what he feels/thinks. If conflicts can’t be avoided, some tools can be used like anonymous feedback templates.

How did St. Ignatius help groups or individuals to be free

De Castro - How did Ignatius help groups or individuals to be free.mp4


“Discernment is the key to navigating a seemingly rigid world”

Pope Francis

Identify key stakeholders

Clarify the question

    • 5 why: Dig at least 5 levels deep into the issue by asking “why” to help clarify the issue.
    • Five Ws, One H: It covers the basics and helps you understand the situation and context

Gather and form key stakeholders

    • Interior freedom -> What would I advise another?
    • Listening -> Spiritual Conversation
    • Mission -> Name of Grace
    • Union of hearts -> History Line

Establish group objectives

    • SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
    • Identity-Vocation-Mission: Who we are? To what we are called? How to respond to the call?

Clarify final decision maker

    • Clarify relevant authority. Clarify the power of the group and its authority.


Do I understand the issue correctly?

Does it need a Discernment in Common?

Am I fully capable of leading the whole process?

Do I need some external help, facilitators?

Do I need extra resources/materials?

Am I willing to enter all aspects of Discernment in Common?

Am I free to enter the process?

Do I have any personal preferences?