I have begun my Spiritual Direction Formation Program: the last two Saturdays were intensive sessions from 9am to 5pm. In the first introductory session we were introduced to the history of this program, to the spiritual directors, formators, supervisors, and lecturers. They shared with us who they were and how they entered this ministry and the joy and growth it brought them. All the participants shared our stories too: how we chose to sign up for this formation course.
The course would have as its main aim to form the life of the future spiritual directors. Form, not train, because it is not about mere skills, but the forming of our disposition, inner life, and values. A few of the components of this formation is each student meeting with an assigned spiritual director every two or three weeks for the duration of the course. I had already met with my spiritual director twice before the sessions began. We will also be in silent retreats every semester with the number of days increased each time. There would be input seminars for learning content. Books to read of course. Supervision, at a later stage. This is off the cuff from what I remember.
I enjoyed the sessions thus far. Hearing the stories of all the participants, teachers and learners, in the first session was inspiring and moving. I was surprised I had stayed alert from 9am to 5.30pm that day. Of course, I shared my story too: what was in my last blogpost. No need to re-invent the wheel. The second Saturday, was more content based, but done in such a way there was fun interaction in groups of 5 and questions and answers with the lecturer/formator. Sister Linda Lizada from the Cenacle Sisters taught the session. Teach less, learn more. I also got to know more of my fellow course-mates and felt blessed and privileged because they share with authenticity and vulnerability.
We were blessed with good bento food and tea breaks and we have a firm but friendly safety officer, herself a trained spiritual director, who made sure of social distancing and safety measures were taken, like eating in your small groups.
On A Personal Note
I have two friends as course-mates. One is Ps Seng Chor, a retired pastor like me, with whom I have gone on retreats with, and with whom I am in a 1-2-3 group sharing group. The other is Juliana, whom I knew from a camino, and our work with the team at Iganatian Journey, that organizes retreats and caminos.
I met a fellow participant with whom I resonated with. She had been praying and writing in to the Life Direction team asking when they would run another course. They had run this course three times in the past and it has been about ten years since the last one. So this would be the fourth locally run course and I am glad to be on it for it had been my prayer too. There are overseas courses available but I preferred a local one for its local context, and the ongoing community with which I can receive further input, supervision and support.
I am also thankful that my grown-up children told me they would sponsor the remaining shortfall in fees. They are really kind and generous and I am blessed to have such children. In more ways than I can number, they have showered me with gifts and support and encouragement. I would have missed out on this course had it not been for the intervention of the Lord through an anonymous giver, and another pastor friend who helped substantially in the fees. I am glad and excited because this is part of a new chapter in my life.