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?