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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Spiritual Direction Training
Regnum Christi Spirituality Center working toward offering more flexible training with online segments

Spiritual Direction sign

Last month Regnum Christi consecrated woman Lucy Honner discussed the change of the RC Resource Center to the new RC Spirituality Center.  Currently the center is made up of a team, including Lucy, Fr. Bartunek LC, and Regnum Christi member Debbie Graspointner along with several other priests and contributors working on different projects.

Following is another interview with Lucy Honner about developments in training being given through the Spiritual Direction Course. The team working on a certification course for Spiritual Direction includes Lucy, Fr. John Hopkins LC, Fr. John Bartunek LC, and Rebecca Teti.

Why offer Spiritual Direction Training?

Formation for lay spiritual directors is a service that Regnum Christi has been providing for many years now.  Since Regnum Christi’s primary mission consists in finding and forming holy, spiritually mature apostles for today’s urgent work of the New Evangelization, we consider it imperative to be able to offer well-formed spiritual directors to all our members.

In recent decades, more than one such formation course has arisen in the Church at large.  Two factors are at work in this.  First, the recognition of spiritual direction’s importance for continued growth in the spiritual life.  In fact, Pope Benedict XVI, in a speech given in Rome to students of Catholic spirituality, made this point explicitly.  He affirmed that spiritual direction is meant for everyone who wants to grow to spiritual maturity:

“As she has never failed to do, again today the Church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction, not only to all those who wish to follow the Lord up close, but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his baptism, that is, the new life in Christ” (Pope Benedict XVI, May 19, 2011).

The second factor has to do with the growing recognition, especially since the Second Vatican Council, that lay men and women can offer this service successfully.  Nothing in the nature of spiritual direction requires it to be the exclusive purview of ordained clergy or consecrated religious.  The early life of John Paul II gives a beautiful example of this.  Before his entering into the seminary, he began to receive spiritual direction from a layman named Jan Tyranowski.  The wise guidance and deep formation he received through that experienced contributed significantly to his spiritual growth and to his decision to enter the seminary. 

What does this training involve, and where is it offered?

For the last few years, training has been offered for the consecrated members of RC, Legionaries and lay members of RC at our retreat and family center in Bethesda, Maryland, Our Lady of Bethesda.  The training course has been developed under the guidance of a Legionary priest, Fr. John Hopkins, S.T.L., and Rebecca Teti, a long-time member of Regnum Christi.  Right now, they are working together with me, the director of the newly established Regnum Christi Spirituality Center, in order to be able to offer parts of the training online.  This will make the formation available to more people, as well as providing a more flexible platform for people who are unable to travel or to take large chunks of time out of their schedules.

How long does it take?

As it currently stands, the training course consists of five intensive modules, each with multiple sessions.  Each module lasts for almost a full week.  The modules include the following topics:

  • The Role of Spiritual Direction and the Dynamics of Spiritual Growth
  • The Human Person and His State in Life
  • Virtue and the Life of Grace
  • Discernment of Spirits
  • The Life of Prayer and Growth in Prayer

Up to this point, the modules have been offered a couple of times a year at Our Lady of Bethesda.  To complete the training course takes a few years.  Even after someone goes through all five modules, they continue to receive training by attending subsequent sessions at Our Lady of Bethesda.

It is our hope to make the course more available by adding an online component, as well as offering the in-person sessions more frequently and in more locations.  But these are still only hopes at present.  Right now, all modules are given in person at Our Lady of Bethesda, and only certain modules are offered each year, so the whole course takes a few years to complete.

Who is offering the course and teaching it?

Besides Fr. John Hopkins and Rebecca Teti, the training comes from a team of experts in various subject matters.  This is one of the strengths of the course, in fact.  Our Lady of Bethesda and the Institute for Psychological Sciences (IPS), whose current President is another Legionary priest, Fr. Charles Sikorsky, J.D., J.C.L, have been developing a strong collaboration.  As a result, this training course is able to offer not only solid theological content, but also the most up-to-date and dependable insights from professional psychology.  Because IPS’s mission is to marry the valid and useful advances in the psychological sciences to the perennial truths that come to us through Catholic philosophy and theology, this particular training program offers a deep, practical, and well-rounded formation hard to find elsewhere.

Who can take the course?

Up to now, the course has been offered to lay people in Regnum Christi who have felt called to exercise their apostolate in this fashion.  Usually these are people with years of experience in the spiritual life, and with particular gifts in the area of interpersonal relations.  Sometimes, one of our priests or consecrated members will suggest to a lay member of the RC movement that they may be a good spiritual director, and invite them to think about taking the course. 

Our hope is to begin offering the course more widely, so as to be able to serve dioceses more directly, as some other spiritual direction courses do.  We would like to be able to help train spiritual directors not only for the RC movement, but for the Church at large.  This is not easy.  It requires developing more objective criteria for the selection of students, and more objective criteria for evaluating students’ progress.  This is something we are working on right now. 

Any other pertinent information?

Our longer-term goal is to turn this training program into a formal certification program, partnering with an established academic institution.  Part of that effort will involve creating an advisory board with experts from outside the Legion and the RC movement.  While we are in the midst of our current renewal process, this has been difficult.  But it is our long-term goal.

For further information or any questions about the Spiritual Direction Course please contact Lucy Honner at



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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