Spiritual Direction Training Program for Diocesan Priests
Hosted by University of Saint Mary’s of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary
In May 2006 Pope Benedict XVI addressed the clergy of Warsaw and said, “The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.”
Furthermore, in May of 2011, the Holy Father said, “As she has never failed to do, again today the Church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction, not only to all those who wish to follow the Lord up close, but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his baptism, that is, the new life in Christ. Everyone, in fact, and in a particular way all those who have received the divine call to a closer following, needs to be supported personally by a sure guide in doctrine and expert in the things of God.”
Responding to the Holy Father’s two-fold call for priests to be “experts in the spiritual life” and “spiritual directors” the Institute for Priestly Formation has developed a Spiritual Direction Training Program.
Foundation in Spiritual Theology. As a means to developing the unique identity and spirituality of diocesan priesthood, Ignatian Spiritual Theology is used with its emphasis on active, apostolic spirituality. This will prepare diocesan priests to play their appropriate role of leadership in the Church of the 21st Century.
Practicum Training. Opportunities include receiving individual spiritual direction, role-playing, case studies and supervision in giving spiritual direction.
Retreat Component. More than training sessions, this experience offers the priest a personal opportunity to encounter the Lord’s love. Each year this retreat can easily serve as the priest’s annual retreat. The retreat is a hybrid of the silent individually-directed style combined with a daily teaching conference.
Practical Schedule. Three one-week intensives are offered each year for three years. They run from Sunday evening through Friday midday to foster participation by diocesan priests who are busy with the demands of the apostolate.
Developmental Model. In order to provide the best possible training, a developmental model is employed, i.e., providing a theory/practice style of learning. This kind of “series” program allows for maximum growth in the fundamentals of spiritual direction and priestly leadership. Participants will be expected to put into practice the theology and skills learned during a week’s session and then to receive feedback and supervision during the next session.
Each year, the first and third week of the program will consist of the practicum component, lecture presentations by the IPF staff and seminar style discussion of pertinent readings. Topics include:
- The Art of Spiritual Direction
- Psychological and Spiritual Development
- Pastoral Diagnostics
- Discernment of Spirits
- Teaching Prayer and Preaching
- Fostering a Contemplative Attitude
- Inner Healing and Deliverance Prayer
- The Parish Retreat
- Spiritual Administration
- Spiritual Fatherhood
- Priests may attend this program for their own enrichment, and at the completion of three years, receive a Certificate in “Spirituality of Diocesan Priesthood and Spiritual Direction.”
- An additional certificate in retreat ministry is offered.