Seeking a Realtionship with God Spiritual Directors Help Others Fill the Void

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Kutz Daily Herald Staff Writer

New center

WHO: Mayslake Marmion Ministries

WHAT: Raising funds to build a retreat center

WHERE: Marmion Academy in Aurora.

WHY: The center will offer spiritual direction, among other services.

COST OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: It varies. Most directors request a donation of about $35 each hour. Meetings with a director take place once a month or less often.

FOR DETAILS: Call the Mayslake Downers Grove office at (630) 719-1620.

ON THE WEB: Spiritual Directors International offers Web site at www.sdiworld.org

Mary Jo Valenziano sought spiritual direction when she was having religious experiences.

"It was a time when I was growing deeper spiritually. God was asking something of me, but I didn't know what the question was," she said.

A Roman Catholic, Valenziano looked for help within her church.

"My spiritual director was someone who sat and challenged those things, and helped me get beyond the experiences to see I was growing more deeply in love with God, and to help me commit myself more fully to God," she said.

As it turned out, Valenziano was called into the spiritual direction ministry herself. Today, she is one of a growing number of lay people who offer the service.

Once the domain of Roman Catholic priests, spiritual direction is an ancient Christian practice that helps people focus on the activity of God in their lives.

"Spiritual direction is the act of honoring a person's movement with God," said Jeff Gaines, executive director of Spiritual Directors International.

Gaines believes spiritual direction will continue to grow in popularity as society becomes more technical and people become more isolated.

"People have this hunger to reconnect with their source, and live a full life as God intended it to be lived," he said.

Hundreds of spiritual directors exist in the Chicago area alone. Many of them are lay people and Protestants. And the number of lay people seeking their services is growing as well.

"I think when people begin to understand what it's all about, they are very attracted to it," said Anne Luther, a spiritual director affiliated with the Chicago branch of Spiritual Directors International. …