What exactly is a 'spiritual director"?


I keep seeing people mention spiritual directors. I assumed they were people who help guide your spiritual progress. But when I asked my priest for help in acquiring one he suggested that I help with RCIA!

What gives?

I am new to catholicism. I know precious little. I want to learn more and need help, but I do not want to tie up the priest’s time. It’s a big parish. He’s a busy man.

He also suggested ‘renew’ or ‘anew’…I cannot remember the exact name of the program. I am completely unfamiliar with that one.

Can somebody help give me a little clarification as to why the priest would suggest I help with a program when I know next to nothing about being catholic? Wouldn’t that be something for someone a little more versed in belief and tradition?


This page has a number of questions and answers about spiritual direction, including the most basic one, what is spiritual direction?

Spiritual direction is a ministry deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. Most fundamentally, the goal of spiritual direction is to help you become more aware of God’s presence in your life and to make life decisions in fidelity to that awareness. Through the guidance of a trained spiritual director, this ministry can help you clarify, articulate and affirm your spiritual experience as revealed through all the situations and events in your life. This is done by providing a loving, open environment, giving support and feedback, and being a listener and companion for your journey. Spiritual direction is not psychotherapy or counseling, but utilizes the many skills of counseling.

And just to clarify a bit, your priest doesn’t have to be your spiritual director – and he may not have the time even if he wants to. Spiritual directors can come from any walk of life – clergy, religious, or lay. You might look around for a retired priest or ask at a convent, monastery, or retreat house if there is one nearby.

RENEW is something else. You can view their web site here. RENEW is basically a program that helps parishes develop small communities of faith. These communities are groups of people who get together weekly to discuss various topics and how they relate to individual’s lives. RENEW groups meet for six weeks in the fall and six weeks during Lent. The official RENEW program has five of these “seasons,” but groups can continue meeting forever if they want.

I’m a big believer in small faith communities. The one I belong to meets weekly to discuss the readings for the upcoming Sunday and focus on how we are called to live out those readings. In addition to the focus on Scripture, it’s a good way to learn to talk about your faith with others.

As to why your priest suggested helping with RCIA, perhaps he felt it was a good way for you to continue to learn more about your faith. In part, by listening to everything again it may sink in more. And if you’ll be doing any teaching you’ll learn even more by having to research the topics yourself.


Your pastor probably made the suggestion based on his conversation with you.

Since you are new, he probably felt some key points covered in RCIA program will be a good review for you at the present time. By helping in the RCIA, sharing your own experience of becoming a Catholic, you will both help and learn at the same time. Instead of finding a spiritual director, your priest believes RCIA is a good starting point, and you can go from there.

This is just my assessment based on what you described.


RCIA is a good place to begin with if you know next to nothing about catholicism…it is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The program is designed to give you a basis of the faith, a place to grow from…

i am new to catholisim too. i went thru RCIA and was baptized in April 2006. i have helped in RCIA since. this fall begins my third session as a team memeber of RCIA… i have continued to learn so much and have soemthing to offer and share myself. it has helped me in so many ways…God’s healing comes in where ever you are. we have had some cradle catholics come in as sponsors and i have heard much reply from them on how that has grown their faith by sponsoring…

I have a spiritual direct two actually one is for my complete sharing of my deepest heart this is my godmother/sponsor/best friend, one is a deacon for my guidence and direction as i live my faith and share with others. i do a lot of writing poetry mostly and i don’t want to have my ego get in the way of sharing this gift God shares with me.:gopray2:


Yikes :bigyikes: - that center is steeped in New Age! I clicked on their annual brochure and here are some of the offerings:

Reiki Training Programs
Zen Meditation
The Four Noble Truths (a workshop on the “truths of Buddha”)

That was what I found in just the first 8 pages of their 21-page brochure. Even worse is their offering of Koinonia, a program which supports same-sex couples and homosexual clergy in the Church (unless I am mistaking it for another group called “Koinonia” which does just that). However the description of the program as for “Gay and Lesbian persons, family, friends, and other supportive persons” leads me to believe that’s what it is.

This example highlights one of the pitfalls of spiritual direction - often retreat centers and directors are lousy with New Age and therefore one needs not to accept any direction, but look for an orthodox director.

Here’s a site that I’ve found to be more loyal to the Church and New Age-free:


My director recommends this book to all of his directees:

Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within

This book contains not only good advice on how to go about seeking a director, but also excellent advice on contemplative prayer, things you can do to grow spiritually, and how to discern growth.


sorry, I don’t want to hijack the thread, but what’s going on with the coloring? Random words are showing up in red and it’s really distracting from the posts. Is this deliberate or is my computer doing something funky?


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