Spiritual direction: growth along the journey

There seems to always be a need for good spiritual directors: those men and women who have a special gift, and are trained to guide the People of God on their faith journeys. The Diocese of Alexandria is blessed to have 3 individuals who have recently completed the Internship in Spiritual Direction from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and are now offering their specific ministry to the people of our diocese.

What is spiritual direction? Spiritual direction is the process of working with a guide to help you in your pursuit of holiness. Spiritual direction offers prayerful listening that invites the directee to create a space in their heart to hear God’s voice.

A spiritual direction session can cover any number of things: your prayer life, spiritual joys and and difficulties, specific decisions needing to be made. During the process, the trained director assists you to become more aware of God in your life, hear God’s voice, notice God’s presence, and guide you to form a more intimate relationship with God.

Spiritual direction involves three persons: the person seeking direction, the Spiritual Director, and God. The true director of a person’s spiritual experience is God.

What spiritual direction is NOT

Spiritual direction is distinct from the ministries of preaching, teaching, pastoral counseling, and spiritual friendship because it has discernment in its purpose, that is, distinguishing God’s voice from the many others in the world.

Although beneficial and helpful to an individual, it is important to distinguish the differences between Spiritual Direction and clinical behavioral health counseling (directed to assist people with specific issues related to behavioral or emotional disorders rather than their relationship with God); spiritual companioning (a sharing of each persons’ faith journey in support of their mutual growth in relationship to God); and, pastoral counseling, in which the counselor is expected to counsel and advise from the perspective of the religion he or she represents.

What is a Certified Spiritual Director?

A spiritual journey is the path one seeks to grow in holiness as they spiritually mature with the hope of salvation. A Spiritual Director, then, is one who has received education, training and supervision from programs offered by Catholic institutions, who uses effective methods to best support others on the spiritual journey.

The Diocese of Alexandria now has three practicing certified Spiritual Directors, ready to walk with those in our area seeking assistance in their spiritual journeys. These Spiritual Directors have completed the Internship in Spiritual Direction from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, under Archbishop Gregory Aymond and directed by Sister Dorothy Trosclair, O.P. The program includes completion of a theological/catechetical background, 2 years of spiritual direction from a certified spiritual director, completion of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatiius: 30 day or 19th Annotation (9-month retreat), attendance of an 8 day Directed Retreat, and more.

The application and internship itself are rigorous, meaning to provide our area with spiritual directors who are empathetic, non-judgmental, objective, and able to recognize the core movements of God in people.

Who is spiritual direction for?

Spiritual direction is not just for priests. The spiritual direction journey is for:
• Those who desire growth in their relationship with the Lord;
• Ministry leaders relying on God for guidance;
• Anyone discerning God’s will;
• Recent retreatants desiring to embrace mature spirituality;
• Faithful experiencing dryness in prayer;
• And, others seeking to grow in their spiritual journey.

Certified Spiritual Directors in the Diocese

If you count yourself among the many in our area seeking spiritual growth, you are encouraged to reach out to any of the newly Certified Spiritual Directors in our diocese. Together, you will decide on the time and place for your meetings, (by appointment or virtually) and begin the journey to become more like Christ himself.

For more information, contact:
• Renee Aldridge: 318-542-1966 or renee.aldridge1@gmail.com;
• Ingrid Canella: 318-792-3331 or icnewell@yahoo.com;
• Tracy Simpson: 318-451-8802 or tracy@simpsonsecurity.com.