Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom shares on Spiritual Direction as part of a presentation entitled “Catholic Education is Not Just a School Thing”.
My main ministry is coordinator of St. Francis House of Prayer. Flowing from that missioning, I provide Spiritual Direction and Retreats to clients both inside and outside of or Community and to people of a variety of ages and faith traditions. I am speaking to paragraph 31 of our document. Our Congregation’s educational traditions seem to fit well with Pope Francis’ pastoral project for a “Church that goes forth” and that “stands by people at every step of the way”.
I participate in this initiative by responding to requests for retreats, workshops, and days of recollection for the staff of both parishes and schools. To name a few: This past February, a day of preparation for Lent was given to the parish staff of St. Mary Winneconne and Omro. In May, a workshop on self-knowledge and prayer was given for the staff of St. Edward and Isadore Parish, Flintville.
In the ministry of Spiritual Direction, it is important to stand by clients “every step of the way” as they grow in holiness from a childhood faith to a mature conscious choice to participate in the spiritual life and to share that with others. I have been teaching a course via Zoom for the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay called Spiritual Companioning. This is a continuing education course of 3 hours for five weeks. The two-fold goal for participants is to grow in their own spirituality/inner life and to companion others as they grow. Participants have been therapists, chaplains, parish staff, life coaches, DREs, deacons, hospice caregivers, teachers in Catholic and public schools, and others exploring the possibility of spiritually accompanying others.
Theologians use various terms but many seem to agree that each human person passes through stages of spiritual growth. There is childhood faith up to about age 6, followed by the growing faith of the youngster into their teen years. There is an intense period of searching, questioning, and, sometimes, complete rebellion in the late teen and or early young adult stage. There is the mature faith that goes though periods of transitions because of experiences, aging, and crises. The gift of mysticism is given to many who continue their search into their maturing years. Every step of the way, the need for understanding, compassion, and guidance is needed.
Education in the spiritual life requires a constant ability to go forth into new landscapes of mental health, social action, deeper prayer, and the challenge to share that growth with others. I am grateful to our Community for the opportunities to study and share our educational charism.