Come Join Us!
The Guadalupe Mercy Center and the Jesuit Community of Belize will be offering a two-year formation program for women and men, who have experienced the gift of spiritual direction in their own lives and feel drawn to share this gift with others. It will be an opportunity to deepen your own experience of God and help others to do the same.
About the Program
From October 2022 through June 2024, participants will learn the art and practice of spiritual direction. The method of instruction is experiential. In other words, participants will be invited to explore their own relationship with God and learn the "language of the Spirit," so as to be able to help others do the same.
As a "formation" program, participants will be engaged both in the head and in their hearts. In this program, participants will:
Expand your their experience of God through prayer and working with others,
Deepen their understanding and appreciation of the richness of the Christian spiritual tradition,
Develop skills for discernment and contemplative listening, as they learn to accompany other seekers on the spiritual journey.
Develop a working understanding of the dynamics that animate the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual direction is an ancient Christian practice, and although it has taken many forms over the years, its focus has always been on helping persons to deepen their experience of God, not only in their prayer, but in their lives in general. The practice is rooted in the insight that it is often helpful to talk about one’s spiritual experiences with a trusted companion on the journey. Since the two disciples met Christ on the road to Emmaus, and shared about their hearts burning within, spiritual direction has been an important practice of the Faith
What Does a Spiritual Director Do?
A spiritual director helps a seeker (called a “directee”) to notice and respond to the movement of God as experienced in prayer and in the events of ordinary life. The director acts as a listening, supportive person who creates an atmosphere where one can look honestly look at his or her relationship with God, as it is lived out in daily life. A spiritual director is not a guru or an expert, not a teacher or a therapist. A spiritual director is a fellow-traveler on the spiritual journey, who, through training and experience, has learned to recognize the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Am I Called To Be a Spiritual Director?
How would I know if God is calling me?
Spiritual direction is a ministry in the Church; therefore, we understand it as a calling from God. One does not simply decide to be a spiritual director; one must receive a call from God. God finds ways to extend the invitation. Some times you feel the invitation in your heart, like a small voice that wonders, "Could I do this? What if...?" Other times, the call comes through people in our lives, who let us know that they feel safe and welcomed in our presence.
You might take a look at the following common traits of spiritual directors and ask yourself if this describes who you are.
10 Traits of Healthy
A Spiritual Director is someone, who...
10 Traits of Healthy Spiritual Directors
Lives their faith with integrity and have a strong God-awareness in their lives;
Has a warm and open demeanor; a diversity of persons feel welcome in their presence;
Is able to listen well, keeping the conversation focused on the other, without lapsing into giving advice;
Finds that family, friends and coworkers already approach them for spiritual conversation;
Can maintain strict confidentiality and does not fall frequently to the temptation to gossip;
Is familiar with Scripture and the richness of the Christian tradition;
Is aware of national and world events, and regularly brings these into prayer;
Is open to learn and be formed as spiritual directors;
Has the time and willingness to participate fully in the training, and then to serve as a spiritual director;
Feels called by God to the ministry of spiritual direction.
October 2022 - June 2023
A mandatory weekend retreat will be held from the evening of Friday, October 7th until mid-afternoon on Sunday, October 9th. Participants will be given an overview of the two-year program, a taste of what our normal sessions will be like, as well as some basic tools for discernment, so they can determine if this program is truly for them.
Module 1: Overview of the art and practice of spiritual direction
Module 2: Understanding Christian spirituality
Focus: Methods of prayer
Focus: Images of God
Module 3: Understanding religious experience
Focus: God and my deepest self
Focus: Contemplative speaking and listening
Module 4: Helping a person to develop their religious experience
Module 5: Discernment and decision making
Module 6: God as Divine Healer
Focus: Praying through grief
Focus: Praying with trauma
Module 7: Professional boundaries and ethical guidelines
September 2023 - June 2024
For those who have already made the Spiritual Exercises.
All trainees will be paired with a directee and accompany him/ her through the Spiritual Exercises.
The same expectations would hold for the directors-in-training as for the seasoned directors: meet with directees 2x/ month, attend monthly faith sharing, help give talks and presentations.
In addition, directors-in-training will be required to attend monthly sessions on the "Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises," and participate in monthly supervision sessions.
For those who have NOT made the Spiritual Exercises.
Trainees, who have not yet made the Spiritual Exercises, will be required to be a part of the retreat, as normal retreatants. One cannot direct another person in the Spiritual Exercises, until one has prayed them him- or herself.
Trainees, who fall in this category, will have the option to direct the Spiritual Exercises the following year in 2024 - 2025.
General Requirements for Years One and Two
Trainees will be given assignments to complete outside of class time/ retreat time. Sometimes they will consist of readings, sometimes written reflections, and sometimes trainees will be given material to pray with.
All trainees will be assigned a personal spiritual director with whom they will meet once a month. Since our program is blessed to have volunteer directors from the United States, spiritual direction sessions will take place over Zoom.
Trainees may also be given the option to serve as a spiritual director for a Lenten Retreat in March and early-April 2023. Details are forthcoming.
Days and Times
Generally speaking, we will cover one Module per month. We will meet on Saturdays, in person at Guadalupe Mercy Center, from 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. These sessions will cover the basic material for each Module.
In addition, we will meet on a Thursday evening once or twice per month for Focus Sessions, in which we will have the opportunity to delve more deeply into a particular theme related to the Module. Depending on how far trainees have to commute, we may do these sessions in person or online via Zoom.
We will meet on the following days:
October 7-9 OPENING RETREAT
November 5 Module 1 Christian Spirituality
November 10 Focus session Prayer
November 17 Focus session Image of God
December 3 Module 2 Religious Experience
December 15 Focus session God and Deepest Self
January 12 Focus session Contemplative Speaking and Listening
January 21 Module 3 Developing Religious Experience, part 1
February 4 Module 4 Developing Religious Experience, part 2
February 16 Focus session Discernment and Decision Making
April 15 Module 5 The Divine Healer
April 20 Focus session Praying Through Grief
April 27 Focus session Praying Through Trauma
May 6 Module 6 Boundaries and Ethical Guidelines
The following books will be provided to you and will be included in the cost of the program:
Barry, William and Connolly, William. The Practice of Spiritual Direction, Revised and Updated. New York: Harper One, 2009.
Ganss, SJ,George. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, A Translation and Commentary. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992.
Participants will also be given a binder for holding articles and other course materials.
Notebook for keeping course notes.
Journal (for reflecting on personal prayer)
Computer for completing written assignments, as well as WiFi access for participating in scheduled Zoom sessions.
Expectations & Requirements
We offer a professional training program for public ministry in the Church. Spiritual Directors must hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity, or else they run the risk of causing great hurt. As such, we hold professional expectations of all trainees. Only those who are ready for the responsibility should apply. The people of God deserve no less.
Trainees are expected to maintain the following standards
Maintain a regimen of regular, daily prayer.
Full attendance at all training sessions.
Active participation in all training sessions.
Thorough preparation prior to each session.
Receiving regular spiritual direction.
Any personal sharing that takes place in a training session should be kept strictly confidential. If a person is concerned or uncomfortable with anything shared, he/ she should reach out privately to a member of the facilitation team.
How much does it cost?
The cost of the program is $500.
The entire cost pays for books, materials, food, and upkeep of the facility. Our facilitators offer their services for free.
Participants are entitled to a full refund until November 5, 2022, which will be our first Saturday session. After that, those who choose to withdraw from the program will be refunded half of their fee.
As of May 6, 2023, at the completion of Year One, participants who choose to withdraw will not be given a refund of their fee.
The cost of a program like this should never prohibit a qualified candidate from participating! Need-based scholarships are available. Simply submit a letter with your application explaining your situation and how much of the fee you would be able to afford. We will consider your request, and we will do everything we can to help!
Steps in the Application Process
1. DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION MATERIAL
Click on the links in the bar to download the application materials.
2. WRITTEN APPLICATION
Complete the written application
Write your spiritual autobiography.
Your written application must be submitted by email no later than September 9th to the following address:
Please submit the application and the spiritual autobiography at the same time!
Please note that hard-copy applications will not be accepted.
3. TWO LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Find two persons to write letters of recommendation on your behalf.
Letters may be written by family member, friends, or coworkers attesting to the your spiritual maturity. No more than one family member can submit a letter.
Share with them the guidelines for the letters of recommendation (see download in next window).
Recommenders should submit their letters electronically to the same email address above. They should not copy you, the applicant, on the email.
Application Forms to Download
Fr. Brian Christopher, S.J.
Fr. Brian has been a spiritual director for 22 years. He received his training at Loyola University Chicago (2000) and at Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (2007). He earned a M.Div. and a Th.M. from Boston College. Fr. Brian has lived in Belize for ten years and currently serves as the superior of the Jesuit Community of Belize.
Ms. Kathy Romain
Kathy has been a spiritual director since 2009 and was trained by the Sisters of Mercy in Burlingame, California. She participates in the spiritual directors peer support group at the Guadalupe Center where she is also a member of the staff. Kathy and her husband David have lived in Belize for the past 8 years.
Br. Glenn Kerfoot, S.J.
Br. Glenn has been a spiritual director for 23 years. He has an M.Ed in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry from Boston College. Br. Glenn has lived in Belize on and off since 1988 and previously spent ten years teaching theology at St. John’s College. He is currently Minister to the Jesuits in Melhado Hall.
Ms. Maureen Ermeav
Maureen is married, with seven children, and fourteen grandchildren. She and her husband live in Belize City. Maureen has been a spiritual director for 26 years, having received training at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercy Center in 1996. At present, she is also involved in Marriage and Family Life Ministry, Christ Renews His Parish, and Women’s Bible Sharing.
Mr. Dan Finucane, S.J.
Dan has been a spiritual director since 2018 and received his training at Loyola University Chicago in spiritual direction and directing the Spiritual Exercises. Prior to entering the Jesuits, he earned an MTS at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (2012). Dan is a young Jesuit currently in formation to become a Catholic priest and has been in Belize for a year, serving as a chaplain at Belize Central Prison.