To accommodate the growing desire among the faithful for guidance in the spiritual life, the Diocese of Harrisburg is providing for the formation and supervision of spiritual guides. This formation program assists up to 15 candidates in discerning the call to this ministry, and – through a doctrinally sound, systematic, and applied study of the interior life – prepares them to offer spiritual direction in their parishes.
This program seeks candidates with the capacity to emulate St. John of the Cross’s three-fold characteristics of a spiritual director: learned (in ascetical and mystical theology), experienced (in contemplative prayer), and discreet.
The program consists of prayerful accompaniment, at a pace that allows for personal reflection, contemplation, internalization and integration of the sources.
Using a spiraling curriculum, the program introduces the essentials of the interior life during the first year, moves into a deeper and more precise exploration of those essentials during the second year, and culminates in an immersion, through study and practicum during the third year.
The third year includes a supervised practicum in spiritual direction, to take place in each candidate’s parish. Toward the end of the second year, candidates will discern, in consultation with their pastors, how best to promote their availability within the parish. During the practicum, the candidate will be limited to working with two directees, with monthly supervision. Upon successful completion of the program, lay candidates assume a private practice and are recognized by the Diocese as a spiritual guide, located at their parish, yet open to all members of the Diocese.
The team of individuals who developed this program are Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Director of Formation of the Wives of the Diaconate and Diocesan WAN Coordinator; and Carol Morel, BODV, MACM. They work in consultation with Ryan Bolster, Diocesan Director of Adult Education and Catechist Formation.
The formation team also brings together an Advisory Formation Board consisting of clergy and lay members. In addition, a priest of the Diocese functions as the chaplain for all those involved in the program.
Only candidates recommended by their pastors will be considered.
Applications are due August 21, 2020. To inquire, contact Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-685-4168, ext. 254, or 717-712-9298 (mobile).
Read a Q&A interview with Carol Morel, spiritual director, here.
(Carol Morel is a lay spiritual director and a team member of the Diocesan program for the formation of spiritual directors.)
By Carol Morel, BODV, MACM, Special to The Witness