On Sunday 26 January, Bishop Charles Drennan commissioned 11 spiritual directors at a parish Mass in the cathedral.
The 11 were among 14 invited to study the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises to guide retreats in parishes throughout the diocese. They have been following the diocesan formation programme Nga Huarahi o te Wairua Tapu – Pathways of the Holy Spirit.
Working in teams of three or four, the 11 will lead prayer days in parishes and deliver retreats in daily life.
The retreats are based on the Ignatian exercises as presented in Fr Michael Hansen SJ’s recently published book, The First Spiritual Exercises.
Some of the group will complete a further two years offering individual spiritual direction to others under supervision.
The Bishop’s Assistant for Justice, Peace and Development, Rex Begley, designed the programme in consultation with Eltham-born Fr Michael Smith SJ of the Campion Centre in Melbourne. Rex completed a post-graduate certificate in Spiritual Direction and Directed Retreats from Creighton University in Nebraska in 2010. He then set about training a group of people from around the diocese who had shown some sensitivity for the work during parish retreats.
‘We’d noted about 40 whom we considered might discern a call to a prayer ministry in the diocese,’ says Rex. ‘I believe prayer ministry within a diocese is essential.’
Some 14 accepted the invitation to begin formation for this ministry.
Rex has continued his studies through CTI and further input into the formation programme has come from Br Kieran Fenn FMS, Fr Alan Roberts, Fr Neil Vaney SM, Sr Cynthia Kearney RNDM, Kevin Gallagher and Fr Steve Hancy.