Spiritlife Home

Schedule of Classes

Spiritual Director Formation

Sign Up Now


Year Two (2015-16)

Classes will be taught on-site and online. More information available to registrants in the Student Handbook.

E. History of Christian Spirituality - general developments through the ages; who were some of the key movers and shakers; types of spiritualities that developed.

  1. Biblical Spirituality - I, Renee Dreiling OP. Online.
    We’ll look at an overview of the Old Testament and especially at praying the Psalms. I will share a methodology for Scripture Study that I learned in the seminary.
  2. Biblical Spirituality - 2, Renee Dreiling OP. On-site, October 10, 2015.
    The parables of Jesus enable us to look anew at our lives and the decisions we make. They also challenge us to be transformed. We’ll look at the parables and some of the other sayings of Jesus in the light of historical criticism and social customs of Jesus’ day. A short look at narrative criticism, rhetorical criticism and allegorical interpretation will follow.
  3. Anthony and our Desert Fathers and Mothers, Jane Belanger OP. Online.
    Radical Christians, eccentrics, wisdom figures are all ways to describe our desert fathers and mothers. They sought to live the original, unedited life of a disciple of Jesus after Emperor Constantine made Christianity a part of the status quo. These early spiritual seekers/spiritual magnets have much to teach us about spirituality. We will explore the lessons we can learn from Anthony and the other desert fathers and mothers.
  4. Monastic Life and the Search for God, Jane Belanger OP. Online.
    From the hermitages of the desert abbas and ammas, Benedict and Scholastica called Christians to a life of community, prayer and manual labor. A rule of life is written for this experiment in human courage and endurance; stability of place becomes a grounding principle.
  5. Dominic and Francis. Renee Dreiling OP. On-site. November 21, 2015.
    We will explore the life and times of these thirteenth century saints and how their vision for Gospel life impacted the medieval church.
  6. The Carmelite Doctors of the Church. Jane Belanger OP. Online.
    The writings of Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Theresa of Lisieux have been a foundation for the spiritual life of many. All three have been declared Doctors of the Church. All three are Carmelite religious with a spiritual focus on contemplative prayer. The Carmelite tradition begins with the hermits living on Mount Carmel in Palestine and symbolically drinking from the well of Elijah. We will briefly explore the life and writings of these three Carmelite Doctors.
  7. The Quietist Backlash. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. On-site. February 20, 2016.
    During the years following the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, there was a renewal of enthusiasm about contemplative spirituality. But then came the misinterpretations and misapplications of their teachings, bringing about a reaction to contemplative disciplines that has lasted to this day. We will trace this history and show how we are still dealing with some of these issues.
  8. Martin Luther and Ignatius of Loyola. Online.
    Martin Luther and Ignatius of Loyola lived at a time of pivotal change in the world and new awareness of Church corruption. We will explore their similar but different responses to the challenges of the era. We will also examine how their theology helped people find God in their everyday life experience - again similar but different.
  9. Therese of Lisieux; Jean Pierre de Caussade - Practical Ways to Draw Closer to God . Philip St. Romain, D. Min.. Online.
    Caussade, though a Jesuit, had a great deal of influence on the Carmelite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux. She was born in 1873 and Caussade's book was first published in 1861. Caussade said, "To achieve the height of holiness, people must realize that all they count as trivial and worthless is what can make them holy." and St. Therese always insisted that it is not the greatness of our deeds that matters but that the most trivial task is supremely important if done in obedience to God's will and for love of God. Today we reflect on the spirituality of these two great spiritual giants and apply their wisdom to our own lives.
  10. The Age of the Laity. Renee Dreiling OP. On-site. April 23, 2016.
    Vatican Council II called all the laity, the baptized people of God, to work for the transformation of the world. It specified that as they share in the function of Christ, priest, prophet, and king, they are to have an active part of their own in the life and activity of the Church. Furthermore their activity within the Church communities is so necessary that without it the apostolate of the pastors will frequently be unable to obtain its full effect!

F. Spiritual Development - tracking the spiritual journey; introduction to traditional and new ways of understanding spiritual development.

  1. Spiritual Development: the big picture. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. Online.
    What do we mean by spiritual development? How would we compare it with other aspects of human development (moral, social, psychological)? This class examines the big picture of human development to set the stage for future discussions on this topic.
  2. Personal Spirituality: three approaches. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. Online.
    Following up from the previous class, we will take a closer look at different kinds of intrapersonal spiritual development, or what is sometimes called personal spirituality. We will identify three distinct lines -- psychological, metaphysical, and religious -- and reflect on how they intermingle as we grow.
  3. Traditional Christian Perspectives - I. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. On-site. October 10, 2015.
    From the earliest days of Christianity, patterns of spiritual growth were noted. In this class we will review some of these writings to better understand how our ancestors in the faith understood the Christian journey.
  4. Traditional Christian Perspectives - II. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. Online.
    Eventually, something of a consensus teaching on Christian growth emerged through the centuries. This was expressed in different ways by different teachings, the most common being purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways or stages. We will examine this understanding and its relevance to us today.
  5. Eastern Systems and Approaches. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. On-site. November 21, 2015.
    The growing encounter between Christianity and Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism has brought to our awareness other understandings of spiritual development. In this class, we will review some of these Eastern perspectives to widen our own and to see how they are similar and different from the traditional perspectives on Christian spiritual growth discussed in previous classes.
  6. Spiral Dynamics. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. Online.
    This more recent approach to understanding human growth and development is based on the work of Clare W. Graves, a late-20th C. professor of psychology. His work was elaborated on by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, who published Spiral Dynamics in 1996. We will review a DVD developed by Phil St. Romain that he created following a workshop he took with Don Beck in 2004.
  7. Dark Nights of the Soul. Renee Dreiling OP. On-site. February 20, 2016
    The dark night of the soul has become an almost popular term these days. It actually goes back to the 16th century and St. John of the Cross. We’ll look briefly at what it might entail and how it is actually an ongoing process that characterizes our growth in the spiritual life.
  8. James Fowler’s Stages of Faith. Renee Dreiling OP. Online.
    We will explore the evolution of images, beliefs, values and commitments that guide and give meaning to our lives. Fowler has delineated six stages on the journey of spiritual development. The application of these stages to spiritual direction is one of the challenges of today.
  9. Ken Wilber’s 4QAL. Philip St. Romain. Online.
    The writings of Ken Wilber are enormously popular in certain circles. Making use of Spiral Dynamics, Eastern approaches and traditional Western views on human development, he has articulated a vast and comprehensive understanding of human development and has influenced many contemporary spiritual writers. This class will serve as an introduction to his basic approach by reviewing his Four Quadrants, All Levels perspective.
  10. Daniel Helminiak’s Four Viewpoints. Philip St. Romain, D. Min. On-site. April 23, 2016.
    One of the great gifts of Daniel Helminiak is to explain the teachings of Bernard Lonergan, S.J., the great 20th C. philosopher-theologian. This class will review some of the basic contours of Lonergan’s approach with special emphasis on what Helminiak calls the four viewpoints or perspectives on reality.

G. Spiritual Formation Group - a time to process what’s been happening in classes; sharing one’s journey; inquiry and feedback.
- Groups will meet at 1 p.m. during on-site class days.

H. Discernment and Lifestyle - living out one's spirituality; following the lead of the Spirit.

  1. Following Your Call. Marcia Berchek. Online.
    God made us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. That purpose is straining for fulfillment inside of us right now. Our inner call summons us to our purpose. If we pay attention to our inner call, our lives will be filled with meaning and purpose. If we ignore the call, our lives easily become marked with frustration and boredom. During this class we reflect on the importance of finding the place where our deep gladness and the world's hunger meet.
  2. Principles of Discernment. Ann Axman and Marcia Berchek. Online.
    We will overview St Ignatius’ “Rules for Discernment,” seeing how they are applicable in our everyday life as we are attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  3. Models of Discernment. Ann Axman and Marcia Bercheck. On-site. October 10, 2015.
    What does it mean to be a spiritually discerning person in our daily lives? We will overview some ways of practicing discernment for individuals and faith communities.
  4. Monastic Spirituality. Jane Belanger OP. Online.
    In the sixth century, a monk named Benedict devised a code of practical principles by which his community could live together and grow in the Christian spirit. Centuries later, this source of timeless wisdom continues to guide and nurture contemporary men and women who seek to live a balanced spirituality based on listening with the ear of one's heart.
  5. Mendicant Spirituality: Dominic and Francis. Renee Dreiling OP. On-site. November 21, 2015.
    At the close of the 12th century, there was a deep hunger for a down to earth Christianity. Like a spark of electricity, the mendicants, particularly the Franciscans and the Dominicans responded. The hallmark of the 13th century spiritual renewal was the quest for a simple Christian life lived in poverty of spirit and in common with others for the sake of preaching the gospel. We will reflect on this movement in the light of what it has to say to our spiritual quest today.
  6. Apostolic Spirituality. Rev. Kerry Ninemire. Online.
    The word "apostle" means "to be sent." In this session, we will see that all spirituality focuses on the relationship between God (especially in the person of Jesus Christ) and the individual; however, apostolic spirituality will stress how this is carried into love of neighbor. We will examine how there is a flow between our personal relationship with Christ and our love of neighbor. Finally, we will explore how our prayer life can help us discern the best way to love our neighbor in a particular situation.
  7. Spiritual Charisms: What are They? Ann Axman and Judy Spangler. February 20, 2016.
    One way God carries out healing and restorative work in the world is through the spiritual gifts or charisms which we have been given. These charisms help us to meet the challenges of our church and world today by enabling us to see our selves, the church and the world in a new light.
  8. Spiritual Charisms: How do we Use Them? Ann Axman and Judy Spangler. Online.
    Through a charism inventory and descriptions of clusters and patterns we can get a better grasp of our call to discipleship and move us to be true and daring apostles bearing witness to Christ in our families, our church and the world.
  9. Mission Statement: Focusing One’s Priorities. Marcia Berchek. Online.
    One of the most powerful ways to cultivate purpose and vision is to create and live by a mission statement. If you have already written a mission statement, this can be an opportunity to revisit your current one. A mission statement represents the deepest and best within us and comes out of a solid connection to our inner life, fulfills our own unique gifts, and integrates the physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions. It is written to inspire oneself, not to impress anyone else. You will be guided through a process that will facilitate writing a mission statement.
  10. Rule of Life: Act in Accordance with What Matters Most. Marcia Berchek. On-site. April 23, 2016.
    Today we review your Mission Statement in which you named what really matters most/ what is supremely important to you. We will be guided to translate this mission statement into an action plan considering one’s roles and naming one’s goals. We will include these personal developmental dimensions: physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional. By balancing one’s life around one’s various roles and including all four personal dimensions, we harmonize our activities with our deepest values.