It began like this…
The year was 2008 when the Diocese of Phoenix decided that the Enneagram could no longer be taught at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale (The Casa), thereby putting a sudden and surprising end to a successful ten-year program.
In October of that same year, a group of Arizona Enneagram teachers who had participated in the programs at The Casa attended the EANT annual meeting in Monterey, CA. Naturally, the subject of the loss of venue came up. Helen Palmer declared to Carole Whittaker that we could not lose the program, even if we’d lost the place. We began talking amongst ourselves and on the spot made a decision that we would not ascribe blame, we would not make this about being “put out,” but that together we would garner our passion for the Enneagram and be open to something new. Mira Rossman wisely counseled that we recognize that the container had become too small for us and that it was time to grow into a bigger vision.
The Founding Mothers of AEA
It was then that a group now known as “The Founding Mothers” was born. Jaye Andres, Andrea Andress, Robin Cameron, Gloria Cuevas-Barnett, Gerry Fathauer, Linda Frazee, Fran Lyons, Mira (Barbara) Rossman, Judy Shoob and Carole Whittaker formed the first board of directors of the newly incorporated Arizona Enneagram Association (AEA).
We had every Enneagram Style represented except Type 1 (we pulled in some wings!) Not knowing what we were in for, we tackled the 501c3 application papers to secure non-profit status. A major and daunting undertaking, it quickly became known as “the dreaded form.” It was worked on by many of the board members and finally taken over the finish line with a little help from some advisors by our own Gerry Fathauer; a feat for which she was dubbed at our first annual meeting “St. Gerry” (complete with Holy Card). We were on our way!
The initial intention was simply to continue to bring the Narrative Tradition Enneagram work to Arizona through workshops with big-name teachers like Helen Palmer and Dr. David Daniels and by offering the integrated courses in spiritual freedom developed earlier at The Casa. As we grew, we expanded into inviting other master teachers to present workshops and developed our own classes taught by the local core group of excellent teachers trained in the Narrative Tradition.
We had no one to compare ourselves to, so we put one foot in front of the other and proceeded – in the moment! Whatever presented itself as “next” is what we did. When we had problems and frustrations, Carole re-introduced us to the Welcome Prayer, a transforming practice that allowed us “to meet in the field beyond right and wrong doing,” letting go of our emotional and mental habits of type. That in turn created a field in which the Virtues and Holy Ideas could arise.
A big step forward was when Rev. Andrea Andress secured a permanent home for us at her church Paradise Valley United Methodist, a large campus of peace and beauty where we are able to hold all of our meetings and events.
A Heartfelt Thank you…
A very significant contribution was made to the AEA in the form of our original website designed by Rosie Carey and implemented by Scott McElroy who generously donated their time and efforts to us. This was an essential tool for our fledgling organization and one we weren’t in a position to purchase. This incredibly generous donation of time and talent is something for which we are forever grateful.
It is now 2014 and, at the end of the year, all of the Founding Mothers will have served their terms and left the board. New board members have stepped up to the plate with confidence and competence and are poised to take the AEA to the next level.
We continue to present two major special events a year, bringing in well known names in the Enneagram community as well as offering AEA-sponsored classes and panels and supporting professional member’s offerings. We have added, as of 2013, the Spiritual Freedom Intensive Parts 1 and 2, which are two five-day residential programs held at a beautiful retreat center in Tucson, AZ.
The intent is to take forward the body of work that was designed by local Arizona teachers over the course of eight years as follow-on classes to Helen Palmer’s spiritual freedom workshop series. The goal being to internalize and embody those teachings. We feel that this is our key contribution to raising consciousness. This is what makes the AEA distinctly unique in regional centers. It’s the offering of process work that breaks through barriers to spiritual freedom, moving us into an embodied experience of the Virtues and Holy Ideas.
It has been a wonderful and fulfilling ride!
The AEA Founding Mothers