Archdiocesan Spirituality Center branches out
The Archdiocesan Spirituality Center, whose mission is to train persons to become spiritual directors and to offer individual spiritual direction to clergy, religious and lay Catholics, has been serving the Archdiocese of New Orleans since 1983.
And, now, it is preparing to take its spiritual gifts on the road.
Dominican Sister of Peace Dorothy Trosclair, center director, said the center will begin training persons in the Diocese of Lafayette to become certified spiritual directors, a two-year process that involves weekly courses. That training will coincide with training that already exists in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Sister Dorothy said.
The idea to offer the satellite training came about last year when Sister Dorothy attended a meeting of the state’s spiritual directors, and she heard from several people living outside the archdiocese that an in-state training option would be well received.
“I thought to myself, ‘We can do something about that,’” Sister Dorothy said.
Archbishop welcomed idea
After the meeting, she approached Archbishop Gregory Aymond about the idea, and he encouraged her to move forward. Sister Dorothy contacted the other six bishops of Louisiana to see if they had an interest in the program, and “they seemed really excited about it,” she said.
“They wanted to have the opportunity for training so that they didn’t have to go out of state,” Sister Dorothy said.
In the first year, the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center will offer “intern” training at the center at the former St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish campus in Metairie and at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau in the Lafayette Diocese. Each class will be limited to eight participants.
The prerequisites to enter the program – spelled out in the guidelines on page 4 – are rather stringent, but that is necessary because of the importance Archbishop Aymond is placing on having qualified spiritual directors serve the Catholic community, Sister Dorothy said.
“A person needs to have an undergraduate degree in theology or its equivalent, such as a catechist’s certification,” she said. “The person also needs to have completed a 19th Annotation Retreat (an intensive retreat that can be made over a period of nine months) or a 30-day retreat, and they have to have been in spiritual formation themselves for at least two years.”
Keen interest in program
About 90 people have attended informational meetings held across the state about the new program.
“That shows the hunger for spirituality,” Sister Dorothy said. “Not everybody has the prerequisites they need because our prerequisites are pretty stringent. But we had one person graduate from our program last year who went to her first information meeting 10 years ago, and everything just fell into place two years ago.”
Since 1983, the center has offered certification to 152 spiritual directors, who have been part of the center’s 24 graduating classes.
Breaking down the graduates, there have been 48 laywomen, 45 religious sisters, 22 permanent deacons, 16 diocesan priests, seven laymen, six religious order priests, six non-Catholic clergy and two religious brothers.
The New Orleans course will be taught by Sister Dorothy and Dominican Sister of Peace Noel Toomey on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Grand Coteau course will be offered on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by the two sisters and Jesuit Father Anthony Ostini, director of the Jesuit Spirituality Center.
The Archdiocesan Spirituality Center also is working closely with the Archdiocese of New Orleans Retreat Center (the former Cenacle) in reaching out to deaneries in the archdiocese to explain the resources they have for Catholics.
“We are really privileged in our archdiocese to have an Archdiocesan Spirituality Center and an archdiocesan retreat center,” Sister Dorothy said. “We are collaborating very well. We do spiritual direction and spirituality programs, and the retreat center does retreats and several other programs. We’re in collaboration with each other.”
Who can benefit?
A person who feels a tug toward a deeper relationship with God should call the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center to speak with Sister Dorothy or her staff about finding a spiritual director.
“If they want spiritual direction and they want to grow in their relationship with God, this would be the place,” Sister Dorothy said. “We have a book with the names of our trained spiritual directors, and I can sit down with them to help them choose the right spiritual director.”
The Archdiocesan Spirituality Center will host its annual fund-raiser, L’Espirit de L’Epiphanie Celebration, Jan. 17 at the Notre Dame Seminary Chapel. A Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Aymond at 5 p.m., followed by a dinner at Schulte Hall. $125 a person.
The evening will honor Janet Clinton, and proceeds will benefit the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center and its programs. There will be a silent auction including vacations at homes in Florida and North Carolina, restaurant gift certificates, dinner for eight in private homes and vacations in private guest houses in New Orleans.