SPIRITUAL DIRECTION FORMATION PROGRAM — Sitting, from left: Heather Hedlin holding Miriam, Maureen Chastkiewicz, Gloria Daum, Ron Flamand, Kathy Hitchings, Kim Morrison. Standing: Sheila Trumpy, Cathy McGeragle, Carolyn Crittenden (Co-Director Team: Dianne Mantyka, Bishop Gerry Wiesner, Gisele Bauche) Mona Goodman, Marie-Louise Ternier-Gommers. (Yaworski photo)
Graduates sent forth
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
SASKATOON — Eleven graduates of a Spiritual Direction Formation Program offered in Saskatoon in 2013-2014 were sent forth this summer in a celebration at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal.
Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen presided at the eucharist, before joining Queen’s House director Brendan Bitz and Spiritual Direction Formation Program directors Gisele Bauche, Dianne Mantyka and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, in a celebration to recognize those who completed the two-year program.
In his homily, Bolen reflected on the blessings of spiritual direction, and the call of spiritual directors to accompany others in their spiritual journeys, grounded in the Word of God.
“You are sent forth to be agents of healing, agents of listening, agents of reconciliation,” Bolen told the new spiritual directors.
Bolen emphasized the richness and the variety of the Word of God as it addresses human life with messages such as “follow me” or “take courage” or “be not afraid.” Sometimes the Word of God is a word of healing (“little girl, get up” or “go, your faith has made you well”) and sometimes it is a disruptive word, such as “repent” or “are you still without understanding?” At other times, the Word of God poses a question or a challenge.
“Often the word you are going to speak is a word of forgiveness,” the bishop said.
“We are asked to carry the Word, flesh within our flesh, to let it grow richly within us, to be instruments of that word, to be expressions of it . . . it’s a word of justice, a word of hope, it’s a word that calls people to life — to a richer, deeper life — and always, always always it’s a word of mercy.”
Offered at Queen’s House for a number of years, the Spiritual Direction Formation Program gives participants knowledge and skills for providing spiritual direction, while also integrating their own spiritual journey and self awareness, explains program facilitator Gisele Bauche. “Practising being a spiritual director, and reflection assignments facilitated their integration and growth,” she added.
The three program directors — Bauche, Mantyka and Wiesner — bring life experience, ecumenical background in theology, biblical studies, spirituality and prayer, and years of experience in ministry, mission and spiritual formation to the program.
“The spiritual director is a dedicated traveller of the interior pathways who has the skills to accompany another person who is experiencing a hunger for more or for change, disillusionment or transition, and life’s ups or downs,” Bauche describes. “The director listens, encourages, supports and assists individuals to pay attention to God in their lives.”
Spiritual directors accompany others in their faith journeys, listening with them to the movement of God in their life experiences, and assisting them in articulating their inner experience, says Bauche. Spiritual direction can provide “greater insight, deeper awareness and surer discernment in one’s desire and effort to live life more fully.”
A variety of teachers and facilitators contributed to the program content that was offered during the formation program.
Topics include: prayer, discernment and contemplation; dream work; traditional Christian mystics and masters; biblical spirituality; Ignatian and Benedictine spirituality; 12-step spirituality; ecumenism: opening spiritual doors; other religious traditions: First Nations spirituality; eco-spirituality and the cosmos; social justice and spirituality; creative expression; spiritual emergencies; integrating spirituality and psychology concerning intimacy and sexuality.
“These were embraced and integrated into the lives of the participants, equipping them to be more fully alive and more present to others in their faith journeys, invitations and challenges,” says Bauche.