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Spiritual Direction

What is Spiritual Direction?

Over the centuries, people have sought out people of faith, lay or ordained, often monks or nuns, to help them deepen their own unique relationship with God, and from this the ministry of spiritual direction, also referred to as spiritual accompaniment or friendship, has developed.

In their book, The Practice of Spiritual Direction, William A. Barry and William J. Connolly describe spiritual direction as “help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.”

Spiritual direction is a confidential and safe relationship that is intended to help us on our spiritual journey, making it a less isolated experience. It can increase our awareness of the presence of God in our life, and how we live out our response to God´s presence.

However, it is a process that acknowledges that the real spiritual director is God, and recognises that God touches the human heart directly. The human spiritual director does not “direct” in the sense of giving advice and solving problems. Rather, the director helps a person respond to God’s invitation to a deeper relationship.

Why seek spiritual direction?

People seek spiritual direction for many reasons. Often it arises out of a desire to grow more deeply in their faith. Sometimes it is because they find themselves struggling in their faith and seek someone to listen and “be with them” in their struggle.

Who are spiritual directors?

Spiritual directors are men and women, lay and ordained, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have a calling to support others on their journey with God. Most will have undertaken appropriate training, and will be in direction, and supervision, themselves.

How do I find a spiritual director?

The diocese has a register of trained spiritual directors throughout Europe.

In the first instance, please contact Polly Freeman, Ministry Team Administrator:

Training as a spiritual director

The diocese has offered training courses in spiritual direction for several years. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, these courses have been held online, with the opportunity for meeting in person on retreats.

Since 2021 the diocese has offered this course in partnership with Sarum College, Salisbury. This has proved hugely beneficial to the diocese and to Sarum College, expanding the range of resources and experience available.

The course runs over two years, with online, two-day teaching modules every two months, and with ongoing teaching, contact and support between. Here are comments from three current participants:

Alice Thomas

“Henry Nouwen, time and again, reiterates that, “We can’t always see God’s activity by ourselves.” Spiritual direction aids us to see God’s purposes and direction for our lives more clearly. This became evident to me only when I embarked on the course with Sarum College. The teaching, workshops, retreats, the resources like Sarum Learn and the well stocked library and staff on hand to guide us every step of the way, are instrumental in training and equipping us to become effective spiritual directors. There are enormous mutual benefits in the partnership between the UK and European participants in terms of sharing experiences, contexts, resources, teaching staff and speakers, creative ideas, cultures and backgrounds, becoming aware of sensitivities, the dos and don’ts, the taboos etc. With all of this, it is vitally important that information about the course and finding spiritual directors is made readily available.” 


Henry Martin

“The course has introduced me to some great new people, new resources and new ways of thinking. It has been especially helpful to learn from other people’s experiences of directing and being directed. The sessions are varied and carefully planned for a Zoom classroom. The workload is far from onerous and I feel able to progress at my own speed.”





Jamie Johnston

“The diocesan course on Spiritual Direction offers unique opportunities for learning and encounter. Participants from across Europe are able to share questions, insights and reflections, each contributing to the discussion their spiritual and cultural perspectives that make the Diocese such a fascinating community to be part of. The partnership with Sarum College provides both the sense of a consistent (albeit virtual) location for the encounters to take place, as well as all the benefits of the College’s online library resources and teaching materials.”





The next course will begin in March 2023 and enquirers´ events and interviews will be taking place this autumn. If you live within the Diocese in Europe and are connected to one of our chaplaincies, please contact us to find out more about the course and the ministry of spiritual direction within the diocese.  In the first instance, please contact Polly Freeman, Ministry Team Administrator:

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