Eight Spiritual Directors to assist in your prayer life

By Deacon Richard Mitchell

It was about 4 a.m. one morning in September 2017 when I heard my cellphone notification inform me of a new email. Since I was recently hired by the diocese and this was a new email address, I did not think the message would be “Junk Mail”. I could not resist and decided to look to see who in the world would be sending me an email so early in the morning. To my surprise it was from our bishop (at the time) Bishop David Talley. The email simply said “Come to my office when you get in.”

As my heart began racing and my mind running, I tried to think of what I had done wrong in the one month since being hired. Did I offend someone? Did I eat someone’s leftovers in the refrigerator? I began recalling my conversations and actions for the last few weeks. Of course, I could not go back to sleep and had a few hours before arriving at the office.

As you can image, I arrived to work early that day and headed straight to the bishop’s office. As I sat in front of him expecting the worst, he began speaking about the lack of certified spiritual directors in the diocese. He asked if I was available to travel to Shreveport to participate in an informational session for a program that was offered by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. “So I’m not in trouble?” I asked. With a puzzled look, he asked me: “Why would you be in trouble?”

It did not take too many more 4 a.m. emails for me to realize these were common with him and for my sanity I needed to silence my phone!

I share that story for two reasons. First to explain the origins of how our current spiritual direction program was adopted by the diocese. Secondly (and more importantly) is to prove a point that sometimes we need to have someone in our spiritual life that can help us discern and grow in our relationship with the Lord and help direct us away from our own insecurities and other static in our spiritual lives that is not of God.

The informational session went very well and I learned the program is a two-year internship with an intense study of the theology of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and practical experience in journeying with God’s people. Those who graduate and become certified have met monthly, participated in peer group feedback sessions, have directed 8-day retreats under supervision and many other activities to ensure they are well qualified.

In August 2021 our first group of 4 graduated from the program. More recently, with the continued blessing of Bishop Marshall, another 4 graduated in August 2023 which brings us to 8 certified spiritual directors in the diocese.

Those eight are: Renee Aldridge, Maria Burke, Ingrid Canella, Joan Dobard, Nicole Mitchell, Patrick Moore, Tracy Simpson, and Charlotte Wasmer.
Graduates are obviously committed to this ministry, and we are blessed to have them.

So you may be asking yourself “Would I benefit from having a Spiritual Director?” The short answer is “Yes!” We can all benefit from speaking with someone about our prayer life and ways to strengthen our relationship with our Lord. To challenge us in those times we seem to have it all together and to help guide us through those times when we feel separated from God.

Finding a spiritual director you connect with is a true blessing and now we have a short list for you to consider. To learn more about this ministry and contact information for our 8 certified spiritual directors, please visit our website at https://www.diocesealex.org/our-faith/spiritual-direction/ or send me an email and I am happy to help you find a good fit.