Spiritual Directors - Are there any in N Ireland?

Hi all,
I’m sure that with priest shortages there has been an effect on the duties that they can perform outside of Mass and all the other counselling priorities that seem to precede spiritual direction. This is probably an issue on your side of the pond too; i.e. US and Canada? I have certainly found it here in N Ireland.
To give some background, I found that counselling and therapy were ineffective and I know that talking to someone about the faith and praying properly would help me so I sought spiritual direction. I asked the parish priest and he was too busy and referred me to a local monastery with the caveat that he would do all he could to help me if I didn’t get any satisfaction. I was told that it would be offered at the monastery by the secretary and I attended confessions there. I spoke to the priest in confessions about my sins and alluded to my social problems and he gave me prayers and was generally understanding. I returned to confessions and he listened and then he said to me “Why don’t you find someone to talk about this?” sounding a little perturbed. I have issues that cause me to sin and I need to talk about these but he described another priest who had problems with absorbing the issues of another parishioner. I’m quite perceptive (!) and I did take the hint. I asked him about spiritual direction and was told that the monastery didn’t offer it. The priest did give me prayers printed out and was kind to a point but really I need someone to help me with my issues along the way and a listener would be appreciated. I then telephoned the Diocese and they referred me to a retreat house located 50 miles away from my home. They then told me to go back to my parish priest and not to hesitate to contact them if I couldn’t find another contact. I told them that that was exactly what my parish priest told me! I am a bit annoyed by all of this to be honest and now if either of the aforementioned parties takes the duties over there might be an effect on the quality of spiritual direction. With dwindling numbers, I would hope that enthusiasm for the faith would be galvanised. I will still have the faith and will attend the sacraments but I need assistance and my failure with people in social situations is being reinforced by this experience. Any similar experiences or advice? :frowning:



I don’t live in Northern Ireland but I can tell you that I drive about 80 miles to see my spiritual director, so I wouldn’t dismiss the retreat house opportunity. Why not check it out?

Location is an issue but the main issue was the way that the priest reacted to me. Not a good one for anyone suffering temporal vulnerability

From your original post I can’t tell if you made it clear to people that you were looking for a spiritual director. For example, confession is not spiritual direction, but you might have asked the priest in confession if he would be your spiritual director or if he might know of someone who could serve in that role. It sounds like you’re reading negative attitudes into all of your encounters with people even if that may not be what they intended.

Finding a director can be difficult both because there aren’t a lot of spiritual directors around and even someone who is a gifted director might not be a good match for you.

I’m not clear on what you are seeking in direction. It’s not a substitute for counseling if that is what you’re looking for. Spiritual direction is focused on your relationship with God.

There is a group called Spiritual Directors International and they have a guide to their members who wish to be listed at sdiworld.org/seekfindguideagree/terms-of-use.html Note that they do not list Northern Ireland as a separate country but by going to Ireland I was able to find directors in Belfast.

Here’s a big note of caution about using this guide: SDI doesn’t have any requirements for being a member. Anyone who wants to call themselves a spiritual director can do so. However, there are several sisters and a brother listed, so they might at least be people to start with.

Best wishes.

Firstly thanks for the information regarding the spiritual directors; that is very much appreciated. However I take issue with the following

[SIGN]It sounds like you’re reading negative attitudes into all of your encounters with people even if that may not be what they intended.[/SIGN]

I think that in this case, I’m justified and I have had very negative reactions from people. I think it was intended that he didn’t want to deal with me. The priest was the spiritual director by the way and he couldn’t face listening to me talking about my issues for whatever reason. Maybe he has similar problems.
From what my friend (who has attained spiritual direction) has told me, the spiritual director does assist in dealing with issues through prayer and does not pass judgement or advice (this is what I was told). To show impatience sounds like a judgement to me. I wasn’t at all happy about your remark; it showed a lack of empathy. If you had been through the isolation and loneliness and constant rejection I’ve been through maybe you’d consider me as a human deserving of respect and consideration.
Thanks again for your advice but please consider others.

Dear Prodigal in Christ,

Don’t give up! There are very gentle, patient, holy directors out there. They are just hard to find. I want to echo the caution of a previous post regarding SDI.

Check out this resource - I believe you will find this very helpful on Spiritual Direction: rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/

If you look on the upper right side you will find a series on finding and managing a spiritual direction relationship.

Here’s the link for that

Be assured you are in my prayers.

Thanks Life,
I have Father Bartunek’s blog in my favourites and read it daily. The Spiritual Warfare series is particularly useful and I’m especially looking forward to the Advent series which started yesterday I think.

I owe you a heartfelt apology. I know you didn’t mean any harm. I just lose the plot when people judge from the outside; they’re probably right but I’ve been through a lot of rejection and misery so that was a reaction. Sorry and God Bless you

Thanks, Prodigal. I’m sorry too that my message came across the wrong way.

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