Spiritual Direction

Upcoming Spiritual Direction Conferences

SD1: May 18-22, 2020 | SD2: June 22-26, 2020

Register Here | Registration Instructions

dHas anyone ever asked you how they could pray better? How they could grow in their relationship with God? How they could be a better Christian? Has anyone ever shared their spiritual struggles and questions with you? These are signs you may be called to accompany others on the spiritual journey.

The need for spiritual direction—or the accompaniment of a spiritual guide—is becoming more prominent in a world where so many are suffering from so many wounds.

As Pope Francis noted, “The Church will have to initiate everyone— priests, religious and laity—into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5).” (Evangelii Gaudium #169).

The participants will learn the foundational dynamics of spiritual direction through reading, lectures, and discussions. SD 1 will serve as a foundation for those who wish to continue learning the practice of spiritual direction. It is also a stand-alone course for those who wish to learn the “art of accompaniment”. SD 2 will expand upon what students have learned in SD 1, deepening their experiences on the road to expand their own spiritual enlightenment while teaching them how to assist others traveling the same path.

The courses consist of five hours of instruction per day for five days. There will also be opportunities over meals and during free times for private meetings with the instructors. The courses begin at 9 a.m., Mondays and end at 4 p.m. Fridays May 18-22, and June 22-26, 2020. Housing and meals are provided and included in the cost. There is also a day rate for commuters which includes meals. Space is limited! Reserve early! Daily Mass, Eucharistic adoration, Sacramental Confession and prayer are included in the program and available to any who are interested. The programs also offer time for walks, silence, and reflection to best integrate the teaching offered during the courses. Saint Vincent Archabbey is a peaceful environment that naturally fosters reflection and contemplation.


Spiritual Direction Formation Program

The Spiritual Direction Formation Program is open to clergy, religious and lay students seeking to help others grow in faith through offering them the one-on-one ministry of spiritual direction.  This is a two-year program. The curriculum consists of three major areas of study: spiritual direction dynamics, foundations in theology and psychology, and a mentored practicum. The primary purpose of the program “is to equip persons for competent leadership in some form of specialized ministry in congregations and other settings.”— (The Association of Theological Schools Bulletin 50, Part 1, 2012, G-45, B.1.1).

Participation in the Spiritual Direction Formation program can be at two different levels:

Level 1—Non-Credit Participation (audit). These students are not required to have a Bachelor’s degree and they do not need to complete all the coursework.  They must complete all the requirements specified below, however, including full participation in the interactive online class sessions and a basic assessment of participation will be required for those who wish to complete the Spiritual Direction program and receive a Letter of Program Completion. This may include completion of some assignments, quizzes, written/oral exams so the professor can determine a basic level of comprehension.

Level 2—Academic For-Credit Participation. These students are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree and they must complete all the coursework with a passing grade.  They must complete all the requirements specified below to receive a Certificate in Spiritual Direction.

Learning Outcomes and Assessment for Spiritual Direction Formation

  • Students personally develop a strong prayer life through committed practice and also develop a broad familiarity in the spiritual heritage of the Roman Catholic tradition in such a way that they become experts on Christian prayer; (Measures: Readiness for Ministry Exam, assessment by supervisor from practicum, grade/assessment from Spiritual Theology and Sacred Scripture courses, reflection paper from silent retreat.)
  • Students develop an in-depth self-knowledge through the application of the course material to their own committed experience of receiving spiritual direction throughout the course of studies; (Measures: assessment by supervisor from practicum, reflection paper from silent retreat.)
  • Students appropriate the doctrinal heritage of the Roman Catholic Church with particular familiarity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and acquire the capacity to communicate this heritage and apply it to the spiritual life through academic courses in theology and Sacred Scripture; (Measures: grade/assessment from Spiritual Theology, Systematic Theology and Scripture courses, assessment from practicum.)
  • Students develop skills and competency for listening to others deeply through a vulnerable attentiveness so as to listen together to the Holy Spirit without seeking to manipulate or control others, as taught in spiritual direction dynamics courses and mentored practica; (Measures: grade/assessment from practicum.)
  • Students learn to recognize some basic psychopathology to know when and how to refer directees to psychotherapy professionals; (Measures: grade/assessment from psychology course and practicum.)
  • Students develop a relationship with a spiritual director mentor who can personally encourage, support and recommend that student for giving spiritual direction; (Measure: grade/assessment from practicum.)
  • Students will develop a commitment to life-long learning, rooted in the Word of God and integrated with their spiritual lives especially through giving and receiving spiritual direction. (Measure: Readiness for Ministry)

 

Admission  Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college with indication of aptitude for advanced study (only necessary for those seeking credit along with their Letter of Program Completion);
  • An experience of regular spiritual direction for at least one year immediately prior to application;
  • A recommendation from the applicant’s spiritual director or the applicant’s pastor;
  • A personal interview with the Program Director, if requested by the Director, for academic assessment and spiritual readiness for the program.

Program Requirements

Core curriculum

Spiritual Theology (IMSD 600-629):.................................................................... 7

Sacred Scripture (IMSD 630-649):....................................................................... 3

Systematic Theology (IMSD 650-669):................................................................. 4

Psychology and Practica (IMSD 670-699):............................................................ 4 

Certificate Total: 18 Credits

(A grade point average of 3.0)

Additional Requirements:

·       Directed Silent Retreat:

A directed silent retreat of at least 8 days or the Ignatian “19th Annotation” is required at some point during the program. The student must submit a reflection paper based on the retreat experience highlighting points of self-awareness and spiritual growth.  Students are responsible for making their own accommodations for this requirement but must verify their plans with the program directors to ensure acceptability.

·       Application for Practicum:

After completing six credits of theology/psychology in addition to the Spiritual Direction I: Art of Accompaniment course and the directed silent retreat, students may apply to begin Practicum I.  The application includes questions to ensure a student’s basic competency for meeting with spiritual directees under supervision.  It takes into account the passing grade (for a Level 2 student) or the professor’s evaluation (for a Level 1 student) from their completed courses.  A successful assessment from Practicum I and completion of the Spiritual Direction II: Advanced Topics in Spiritual Direction course will be required before admission to Practicum II is possible.

·       Readiness for Ministry Exam:

After all courses have been completed, students must pass a Readiness for Ministry Exam that consists of an oral exam with professors chosen by the Program Director to determine whether a student is adequately prepared to meet with a wide variety of spiritual directees.

Typical Schedule for Completion:

A normal load for students is 3-4 credits per semester for two years and two credits per summer in the first two years. With approval from the Academic Dean, a maximum of nine credits may be transferred from other graduate schools. A candidate must complete all degree requirements within 10 years after acceptance into the program.

Ordinarily, Fall and Spring classes each semester will meet in the evenings, usually Monday to Thursday from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m Eastern time.

Year One:
Summer:

IMSD 601: Spiritual Direction I: Art of Accompaniment..................................... 2

IMSD 602*: Spiritual Direction II: Advanced Topics in Spiritual Direction........... 2

Fall:

IMSD 600: Spiritual Theology......................................................................... 3

IMSD 630: Praying Sacred Scripture............................................................... 3

Spring:

IMSD 650: Sacramental Theology and Ecclesiology for Spiritual Directors........ 2

IMSD 660: Moral Theology for Spiritual Directors............................................ 2

IMSD 700: Psychology for Spiritual Directors.................................................. 2

IMSD 696: 8-day silent retreat ....................................................................... 0

Total: 9 Credits

Year Two:

Summer (whichever were not completed in Year One):

IMSD 601: Spiritual Direction I: Art of Accompaniment..................................... 2

IMSD 602*: Spiritual Direction II: Advanced Topics in Spiritual Direction........... 2

After completion of IMSD 602, the directed retreat (IMSD 696) and at least 6 credits online, the student may apply for the practicum.

Fall (whichever were not completed in Year One):

IMSD 600: Spiritual Theology......................................................................... 3

IMSD 630: Praying Sacred Scripture............................................................... 3

IMSD 697: Practicum I................................................................................... 1

Spring (whichever were not completed in Year One):

IMSD 650: Sacramental Theology and Ecclesiology for Spiritual Directors........ 2

IMSD 651: Moral Theology for Spiritual Directors............................................ 2

IMSD 670: Psychology for Spiritual Directors.................................................. 2

IMSD 698*: Practicum II................................................................................. 1

IMSD 699: Readiness for Ministry Exam......................................................... 0

Total: 9 Credits

Total Program: 18 Credits


Speak Lord, your servant is listening.

Have you taken the time to honestly pray and think about the vocation which God is calling you to give your life? Has your deep love for Christ or a certain encounter with Him touched your soul, making you desire to surrender yourself completely to Him? Are you restless? Can you no longer deny that God might be calling you to consider the vocation of religious life and/or the priesthood? If this is so, then take comfort, God has a special and distinct plan for you and He is calling you in a unique way. However, for one who begins discerning a vocation, fear, anxiety, and confusion are not uncommon feelings. For this reason, the role of a spiritual director in your life is indispensible.

What is Spiritual Direction and why should I consider it?

The job of a spiritual director is not to command or pressure you into a vocation. Rather, a good spiritual director will guide, advise, teach and encourage you on your path to sanctity. The relationship you have with your spiritual director is within the internal forum, meaning that it is extremely confidential. A man can pour out his heart and soul to his spiritual director, confident that whatever he says will not be repeated to others. During regularly scheduled meetings, you will be free to discuss not only your vocation but also your strengths and weaknesses, vices and virtues. You will discuss the health of your relationships with family and friends and how to improve them. In addition, your prayer life and love for Jesus are essential areas that must be addressed. Overall, growing in self-knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual director, one becomes freer to discern the life to which the Lord is calling him. Be cautious. Don’t think that spiritual direction will not benefit you. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux understood the necessity of a spiritual guide when he said, “He who is his own master is a disciple of a fool!” In discerning a vocation, the help of a good spiritual director will be indispensible.

How do I find a spiritual director?

Begin your search by praying for a spiritual director who will aid your discernment. Next, contact a priest whom you trust such as your parish priest. If he is unable to become your spiritual director, he will be able to point you in the right direction, perhaps even recommend a potential spiritual director to you.