Financial Motivation for Spiritual Direction


A friend contemplating a religious vocation to the Diaconate met with someone from the Diocese. He told the Diocesan official that he had reached the point in his discernment where he recognized the need for spiritual direction. He was given a contact person who offered spiritual direction to people discerning religious vocations.

He met with the Spiritual Director who agreed to take him on. The Spiritual Director then informed my friend that there was a $50 charge per meeting. Is this customary? It sounded problematic to me for several reasons, but I don’t know enough about the process to advise him one way or the other.


Likely this is a lay person who needs to support themselves or their family and so offer time in counsel as part of that- for those who can afford to give something.

One would have to inquire further about the matter to know what is customary in such cases.

Dioceses have vocations directors who can assist him.

He can seek out a Priest or religious…

I have never paid for Spiritual Direction.


I have seen it in certain instances. Sometimes it’s an “independent” lay spiritual director, where that is part of their livelihood. In other instances it is a spiritual director attached to a retreat center that takes “suggested donations”. That being said, not all spiritual directors require a fee. When I started formation to the diaconate I asked my pastor if he knew of any local priests that offered spiritual direction. After he gave me a list of names, I spoke to a handful of local priests and was able to find one that was available. When I asked if there was any costs, he looked at me kinda funny and said “no, part of the role of a priest is to help people discern where God is leading them”. He said I was free to toss extra money in the collection if I felt moved to do so, but the diocese already paid him.

Personally, I am a little leery of spiritual directors that are “paid professionals”. That is doubly so for those that have a fixed fee. For many people a $50 fee each month could be 2 - 3 hours of their own after tax wages. I don’t think our financial situation should be a barrier to strengthening our relationship with God. I guess there is a part of me that feels turning spiritual direction into a business leans too much towards the thoughts behind simony.


It’s common for Lay Directors…they went through an expensive education to earn the title “Spiritual Director”. Most however, only take an offering. People pay what they feel they can afford.
I’ve been to one really excellent director that said “pay what you feel is appropriate” and when I didn’t have enough money, he waved it off like it was no big deal.
If you like the person, you shouldn’t have a problem with it. :shrug:
There’s nothing to be “leery” about. My friend who got a Masters in Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Studies has $800 per month student loans to pay off. She received a superior education.


This seems to me to be absolutely wrong. You should not be charging for spiritual direction. Usually people just ask a priest they know and trust and most priests are happy to do it. It might be possible that he was referred to a therapist. I remember during the time I spent in the Dominican Novitiate in Ireland, we were encouraged to avail of the services of a therapist if we felt we needed it. I certainly have never heard of a charge for spiritual advisor/director before.


There is nothing terribly unusual about this. As someone else mentioned, it’s usually a donation. Even some religious spiritual directors do this, since their ministry also helps support the religious community. Every relationship and every situation is different though, and an inability to donate should never exclude anyone from spiritual direction.


If you meet with someone who has gone through an extensive training, such as Spiritual Directors International, there will be a fee. It usually ranges from $50-80 per session. These are trained and licensed Directors. They have the ethical right to charge fees in the same way a therapist would charge fees. Sometimes we assume that because the topics are spiritual in nature or are coming from someone in the Church, there are not expenses involved.


No priest or deacon I’ve approached for SD charges for his guidance. I have heard of lay spiritual directors “suggesting” a sliding-scale fee, or encouraging donations, but personally know of none who require it. Still, I don’t find the idea suspect.

OTOH, the friend mentioned in the OP is discerning a vocation. I find it odd (but not unacceptable) to charge for SD when a possible vocation is involved. Just my opinion, however…it’s simply not something I’ve heard of.


In the case of vocations, I think it is the norm for a vocations director to meet regularly with the candidate. If he want’s direction outside of that I would say he should just go to a priest that he knows.


In my diocese diaconal candidates do meet with the vocations director regularly, but it is not for spiritual direction. We are required to meet monthly with a spiritual director. We are encouraged to use a priest, but can also use a deacon if no priest is available. We are specifical told we cannot use a laymen. The primary reason is that many “professional” SDs are nondenominational or one cannot be assured that they are in keeping with Catholic Church teachings. Spiritual direction for those discerning to holy orders can also require a different focus since the man is being formed for a specific purpose.

All that being said, that is how my diocese does it. Other dioceses will have different parameters. Also since the OP’s friend is not actually in formation yet it can be a bit different. Before I was accepted into aspirancy it was difficult for me to find a cleric that would take on regular spiritual direction. As soon as I was officially in formation, many doors opened up.


Charging for spiritual direction is somewhat controversial. Some people say they would never pay while others understand the reasons a director may charge.

People have to support themselves in some way. If your director is a parish priest then the parish supports him and he can offer his services at no cost. But someone who isn’t supported elsewhere still needs to pay for food and shelter. If you don’t pay for the service you receive then who will?


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