SFTS is happy to offer a certificate in spiritual direction based in the art of contemplative listening but open to people with a wide range of interests. Traditionally, spiritual directors were simply people perceived to be wise in the ways of spirit and compassionate toward others. We believe that good spiritual direction is rooted in deep and stable spiritual practice. Training in spiritual direction occurs therefore in the context of contemplative retreats. Study, reading, and practice in community provide a rhythm which encourages rootedness in spiritual discipline, even as one trains in the arts of listening, discernment, and basic knowledge of spiritual direction.
Spiritual direction also requires practice of attentive listening - holy listening – to others on their faith journey. Participants will practice spiritual direction in several contexts under the supervision of experienced directors. This focus on supervised practice is a distinctive strength of the program at SFTS.
The focus on spiritual formation, practice, and attention to compassion and justice are distinctive marks of a Certificate in the Art of Spiritual Direction through SFTS. We encourage participants who expect to engage Christian ministries as well as activists and members of other spiritual traditions.
The foundational retreat toward a certificate is “The Art of Contemplative Listening” which offers training in “open-hearted listening:” listening from the heart, attending to the heart of others, seeking the heart of the matter. Through study and practice, participants will explore elements of deep listening.
Those who are intending to practice spiritual direction will take the following retreat modules:
• Foundations of Spiritual Direction
• One elective
Participants wishing to focus on spiritual formation or activism will take three additional retreats focused on their vocational interests. Participation in one Collaborative Seminar through the Center for Innovation in Ministry can count toward the three electives.
Between retreats participants will:
• Be in spiritual direction
• Participate in an online community offering further study and support
• Work through a required set of readings and turn in short reflection papers on the readings
• Practice contemplative listening with a designated spiritual companion or friend, meeting at least once a month for an hour for this purpose.
• Locate supervised practicum (see below)
Practicum & Supervision
After completing retreats in Contemplative Listening and Foundations of Spiritual Direction, participants with an interest in spiritual vocation will locate 2-3 directees to begin practicing their own style of spiritual direction. These practicums will be supervised by a local spiritual director approved by this program. Participants will negotiate a contract and payment with their supervisor. People focusing on formation or activism will locate an appropriate practicum and supervisor.
Supervision and evaluation of a student’s progress will occur annually.
Students may complete the four retreats and additional background at the rate that suits their life circumstances. But they must have two years of supervised practice to receive the certificate.
The Art of Contemplative Listening.
Contemplative Listening is a meditative discipline that helps us listen closely to what is said and not said. It is listening from the heart to the heart of another. In larger and smaller groups, we will engage a variety of listening and other contemplative practices that help us drop into an open space where another can be listened into speech. This session is offered as the pre-requisite for further work in the Certificate in Spiritual Direction, Formation, and World-Engagement as well as for the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. This session has the option of 1.5 credit hours additional academic study for those who are working toward a diploma. This session is also open to the wider community as a Spiritual Retreat.
SP 2680 Fundamentals of Spiritual Direction (Foundation course for all Spiritual Direction students) (Diploma/Certificate)
This session is the continuation of the Contemplative Listening course and is required of new Certificate and Diploma students. It provides basic theory and practice for the work of spiritual direction. In addition to daily supervised practice sessions each afternoon, there will be a panel on multi-cultural and multi-racial issues in spiritual direction. Participation in this session is a prerequisite before spiritual direction students can begin to practice spiritual direction.
Spiritual Practice for Spiritual Direction
The ancient practice of spiritual direction is rooted not only in what one learns in a classroom but in on-going commitment to spiritual practice and formation. This class will provide opportunities to encounter several classical and contemporary models of spiritual practice while also engaging in different forms of meditation, art, chant, and body prayers. By deepening our personal practice we will learn to “guard the heart,” inspire the spirit, welcome diversity, and remain more vibrantly present to others. So you will be prepared at the beginning of the course, readings will be sent out in advance. Please see department for course alpha and number.
SP 2499 Discernment (Diploma/Certificate).
This course treats the theory and practice of personal discernment. It is designed to acquaint the learner with skills for their own discernment, but also assists in/accompany the discernment of others. It will serve those in preparation for a variety of spiritual care ministries, and is required for the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. Participants will discern an area of their own choosing in their personal lives, participate in contemplative listening dyads, serve as spiritual companions involved in each other's discernment and function as members of a discerning group during the week-long intensive. Prior to arrival, participants are expected to read at least three of the required books and to prepare a draft paper of about 6 pages in length covering the theoretical aspects raised in the readings. They will demonstrate learning during the intensive by revising the draft paper and also by preparing an additional paper of about 6 pages demonstrating the accompaniment of another person who could be a directee (preferred for D.A.S.D.), parishioner, colleague, friend. Limited to SFTS students only.
Please see department for course alpha, number, and description for Multiculturalism and Spiritual Direction.
For additional program information, please visit the C.A.S.D. program page https://sfts.edu/academics/spirituality-certificate/.
Please see department for course credit offering and range.