Spiritual Direction Practicum

A two-year education/formation program for becoming a spiritual director

Next Session begins September 2016 - applications due by June 20th, 2016

Please note that individuals can only enroll in the Practicum after completing Phase 1: Foundations in Christian Spirituality: Entering through the Narrow Gate.

Spiritual Direction is concerned with a person’s real experience of their relationship with God.  It can best be described as the art of contemplative listening carried out in the context of a one-to-one trusting relationship.  It is when one competent guide journeys with another person, listening to that person’s life story with an ear for the movement of the Holy Spirit, of the Divine, and offering response as is appropriate.  An important component of listening is discernment of patterns and relationships that lead toward God or away from God. The director and directee become co-listeners or co-discerners who sit before the Word as it stirs in the heart of the directee. The heart of spiritual direction is the religious dimension of experience. Spiritual directors help a person notice and respond to our self-communicating God.

In the ancient Christian tradition of spiritual direction it has always been understood that God is the director and the spiritual director assists the seeker in uncovering and discovering the direction of God in that person’s life.  This enables the directee to receive and reverence God’s action and invitation in such a way that it elicits a natural and genuine response. We believe that God is active in all areas of life. Therefore, in addition to listening to the personal and interpersonal stories of others, spiritual directors are assisted to learn how to listen to the wider context of the directee’s life: the communal, organizational and environmental arenas in which people experience God acting in their lives, and help them to deepen in their response to God.

The Charism and Call

The first indication that someone is called to the ministry of spiritual direction is that others are seeking that person out.  It does not originate with the idea that this is something I want or think I would be good at, like any other career move. The person is already engaged in contemplative prayer & listening and responding to others and is deeply committed to his/her personal spiritual journey. This person is usually receiving spiritual direction and growing as a discerning person. A maturity about life and a depth of “good” Theology, Psychology and Spirituality is evident.  The starting point is the presence of the charism, a gift for and in the Church, a gift that can then be fine-tuned in a spiritual direction training education/formation program.  The focus of such a program is on the doing of spiritual direction under the guidance of an individual spiritual direction mentor.  Those completing the program receive a certificateof completion.  This is not a credential because there is no certifying body for spiritual directors as of yet.  Spiritual Directors International (SDI) www.sdiworld.org  continues to hold discussions on this topic at its annual conference but has not moved in that direction yet.

Requirements and Considerations

Spiritual directors journey with and assist in discerning spiritual experiences and the Spirit’s direction in the interior life of the other, as well as confirm or challenge those experiences and sometimes suggest paths of growth in grace.  They consequently need to have considerable experience of the inner life and a reasonable depth of knowledge of their own faith tradition, theology, scripture, spirituality and ethics as well as a degree of psychological health in one’s life.  They need to be well grounded in their own spiritual formation and reflect significant inner freedom – a discerning heart.  In addition, they need to have an openness and willingness to journey with others from different faiths and traditions.

Spiritual Directors can be both clergy or laity.

Formal Requirements for admission to the Practicum:

  • Rooted in a faith tradition 
  • Willingness to reflect on personal experience and participate in practicum by finding directees 
  • M. Div., MA or equivalent in Theology, Spirituality, lay/pastoral ministry, or Psychology and if you have equivalent background (lay ministry program for example)
  • Completed the Foundations of Christian Spirituality program or equivilent workshops and study.  The program draws heavily on the readings and work begun in the Foundations program. Participating in this year-long program is essential and yet, sometimes we wave this if the person has adequate background, a mature spiritual life & practice and meets all requirements.
  • Experience of personal spiritual direction at least 6 months prior to program
  • Annual silent, directed retreat of 4, 6 or 8 days 
  • Recommended by others for the ministry of spiritual direction 
  • Already sought out by others for this ministry or referred by others 
  • Attendance at all sessions
  • Application/Interview process with staff 

The two-year spiritual direction practicum consists of:

  • Three modules each year focused on Spiritual Direction, Christian Discernment, Adult Development and Spiritual Direction 
  • A written integration paper for each module 
  • Required readings for each module (2-3 books per module and 2-3 articles) 
  • Experiential sessions that involve the participants in an adult learning model of small & large group work, prayer & reflection, individual presentations, art work, videos, etc. 
  • Peer group at each session 
  • Meeting directees for spiritual direction sessions outside session time (5-8 over the two years) 
  • One-hour meeting with an individual spiritual direction mentor (assigned by staff) once a month outside session time for a total of nine meetings each year. 
  • Preparation of a written spiritual direction conversation for each mentoring meeting which takes place outside session time 
  • Continued development of a life of prayer and contemplation and on-going review of a personal Rule of Life 
  • Extensive study of the Spiritual Exercises and Guidelines for Discernment of St. Ignatius of Loyola individually and as a group 
  • On-going discernment of the call to the ministry of spiritual direction 

 Study of the mystics and great spiritual teachers, discernment, and the personal Rule of Life influence all aspects of the program and formation process. Each participant is asked to choose one of these “giants” as a personal spiritual mentor to help deepen one’s charism and approach to the spiritual direction ministry as a complement to the appropriation and application of the teachings of St. Ignatius and one’s own personal spirituality.

Participants (now called Associate Spiritual Directors) will also be expected to have as many as 5-8 directees over the course of the practicum - the place where theory and practice meet.  Associates are strongly encouraged to receive their own spiritual direction during the Practicum.   We can assist Associate Directors in finding directees but we also leave some of that responsibility to the Associate.  It is most important that you have as broad an experience of individuals as possible during the program i.e., male, female, variety of ages, etc..  Attendance at all sessions is expected.

Program Fees (Annually for two years):

  • $1,400.00 per year paid to North/West Lower Michigan Synod

We recommend the annual tuition payment be paid in full at the first session. Payment may be made in quarterly installments: September- November - February - May of each year.  You may wish to ask if your Parish/Church/place of work might share some of this expense as an investment in your spiritual formation.

At Participant’s Expense:

  • $360 (9x$40 per session) paid directly to one’s individual spiritual direction mentor – an experienced spiritual director you will meet with individually outside of the session time – once a month – nine times total each year. Our staff will assign a mentor to each participant once the program begins. We will assign a mentor to you once the program begins and explain all that this entails.
  • required books
  • overnight arrangements, if necessary 
  • annual directed retreat
  • Lunch on Friday is included in your tuition as is cost of coffee/tea 

Application Fee:  $35.00  This is a separate non-refundable fee which includes administration and interview costs and is to accompany your application materials. 

The next two-year Spiritual Direction Practicum begins September of 2016

Printable Overview

Application form - due by June 20th, 2016

Reference form - 3 references due by June 20th, 2016