by Chuck Neff
One of the most frequent questions we receive on The Inner Life™ is how do I find a Spiritual Director. Over the many years of hosting the program, I have come to realize that there are some basics steps to finding a Spiritual Director.
Let me say first that it is a process and it might take longer than you think or may want it to take. I know for me it took more than six months of asking questions, talking with priests, and finally finding that one person who could walk with me on my journey of faith.
I always like to tell everyone that the first step should be to talk to your parish priest. It is important that you not ask him to be your Spiritual Director, but rather to let him know that you are interested in finding a Spiritual Director and does he know anyone you could talk with about that. He may say that he would like to do it. If he says that, then the door is open for you to pursue that with him.
Most often, because parish priests these days are so busy, they honestly do not have time to add ‘Spiritual Director’ to their list of obligations and duties. My experience is that having that kind of conversation with your parish priest will result in a short list of names. Then it is just a matter of making contact with those priests to learn of any interest they might have in helping you on the journey.
Again a reminder that this is a process and it may take a good number of weeks or months for you to make contact and determine whether or not there is a good fit for you and the priest.
Because our parish priests are as busy as they are, another option is to contact the Order priests in your area. That might be a community of Jesuits or Franciscans or Capuchins or whomever, who often have priests dedicated to providing spiritual direction. A simple phone call to the community inquiring whether they have any priests looking to provide spiritual direction will generally produce some good contacts.
While we are talking about priests as Spiritual Directors, I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are religious Sisters, Deacons, and laity trained in spiritual direction who can provide wonderful direction and insights. Keep in mind that many times their work in this area is what they do to make a living. So often they require a stipend for their services.
With the advent of social media we are now finding some Spiritual Directors who are offering their services online. A friend of mine, Steve Givens, is a strong Catholic and he himself offers Spiritual Direction online.
He belongs to an international organization called Spiritual Directors International. The website is www.sdiworld.org. He offers this advice on seeking a Spiritual Director online.
He explains it this way – “You can search for a Spiritual Director by zip code/postal code. The caveat is that this is not just a Catholic organization. So you always need to look beyond location. In the directory, most people give a little information about themselves and their religious affiliation. Although a great percentage are Catholic, some are not, including those who might not consider themselves affiliated at all with any specific church. So just be careful.”
For me, Spiritual Direction has provided the ‘safe’ place where I can bring all of me to that one person who can shine a light on the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff of life; the peaceful, level stretches of life as well as the high mountains I sometimes struggle to climb. My Spiritual Director helps to keep me in right relationship with my wife, Judy, our family, friends, and the people I encounter along the way.
It’s a wonderful journey. I hope and pray yours is, too. May God bless you richly and abundantly on the journey in front of you.
Host of The Inner Life™
by Chuck Neff