Interrelated dynamics of formation
Jesuit College of Spirituality’s (JCS) graduate courses aim to integrate (i) personal spiritual formation, (ii) supervised practice and (iii) academic excellence. The student finds himself or herself at the centre of these three interrelated dynamics studies within an Ignatian framework.
The first dynamic is personal spiritual formation in a supportive faith-learning community. We believe that the important questions of spiritual and intellectual formation are best addressed in a respectful and encouraging atmosphere.
The second dynamic is supervised practice of abilities, skills and capabilities as a spiritual director. Supervision, Leadership and Spiritual Direction are arts.
The third dynamic is academic excellence. Theological learning is a dynamic integrated process.
Three underlying principles of teaching are integrated into each course at the JCS; (i) personal spiritual formation, (ii) supervised practice, and (iii) academic excellence. These are adopted from the formation of spiritual directors in the Ignatian tradition.
Spiritual Direction is a call
Being a spiritual director is a call. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit that has to be discerned. The Jesuit spiritual writer David L. Fleming states, ‘spiritual direction is rooted in God’s call first and our response to God’s call’. Spiritual direction is a charism given to a particular person for use in serving the people of God.
At JCS we put a high priority on carefully screening applicants for our courses in spiritual direction. Can an applicant demonstrate a calling to this ministry? Do people seek out this person for spiritual conversation? Is he or she kind and generous in relating to others? Can this person ‘help souls’, as Saint Ignatius would say? Does he or she have a deep life of prayer? Does the student—whether a layperson, Jesuit, religious, or secular priest—have the personal and interpersonal gifts that could be developed and honed in a formation program for spiritual directors?
The authenticity of a student’s call needs to be discerned by the faculty in conversation with the student not only when he or she applies, but also during the course. An academic course may assist a student to develop the skills necessary to be a spiritual director, but only if he or she has a call to this ministry. In the final analysis, God is the one who forms a spiritual director and the course facilitates that process.