Having a spiritual director has helped Timothy Keslick get into the habit of being more open to whatever God has in store for him. Photo by Vanessa Santilli

Spiritual direction ‘helps in the discernment process’

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  • January 11, 2012

TORONTO - Timothy Keslick has had a spiritual director for the past three years — and he nows sees his faith as a joy, something to be embraced. 

“It’s good to freshen and strengthen your spiritual life and make sure you’re on the right track… It’s just getting into the habit of being more open to whatever God has in store,” said Keslick, a second-year history and linguistics student at Toronto’s York University.

While spiritual direction is commonly associated with adults, there are many young adults who seek it too, said Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt, director of Faith Connections, the young adult ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. Faith Connections connects young adults with spiritual directors. 

“We actually get a number of requests for spiritual direction from young adults,” said Nicholas-Schmidt.

Nicholas-Schmidt started seeing a spiritual director when she was 21.

“It allows you to have someone to enter the journey with you and help you in your discernment process,” she said, adding that spiritual directors can be both religious or lay people. “Where is the voice of God amidst all the voices? We say that God only wants for us what is the deepest desire of our hearts, how can I drill down and figure out what the deepest desire of my own heart is amongst all the noise and static of the world?”

A spiritual director tries to facilitate an encounter between a person and God, said Fr. Gordon Rixon, dean of Regis College at the University of Toronto. “They do that by asking questions to help people first notice and then asking other types of questions to help them begin to understand and evaluate what’s happening in their interior movements.” 

You quickly find out the demand for spiritual direction is greater than the supply, said Rixon.

Young people can also find spiritual directors through some parishes (which make this a ministry) or through retreat houses, said Rixon.

Spiritual direction can be very helpful in making discernment choices, but also in smaller, everyday ones, said Nicholas-Schmidt.

And it can help young people choose not only between right and wrong decisions, but also between different possible goods they can pursue in their life, adds Rixon.

“It’s a great resource for making your whole life shaped in the sense of a Christian identity to discern a vocation and to deepen in mission.”

The cost is worked out between individual guides and directees, said Rixon.

“Depending on the context and the background, there may not be a cost or there could be a cost and the cost could vary.”

As for Keslick, he’s happy to have a form of spiritual consistency.

“Ultimately, it’s a way that bears more fruit so your spiritual life can bear more fruit.”

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