Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The last two foundational elements: small groups and spiritual direction, and retreat

The last two elements--once again, activities you are likely engaged in--makes up the co-curricular suggestions that move you toward compliance with the national standards.

Clarifying: Small Groups and Spiritual Direction

Leaves and small group theology discussion
(Meeting in the plaza not recommended in January.)

Part of the Christian life, and your reality as a college student, involves discernment: discernment of a state in life (called to marriage, called to a celibate life for God), and discernment in vocation.  No one can discern for you.  But there are helps available to help you listen for God's voice.  We suggest engaging in one of these practices for one academic year.

1. Spiritual direction: "We define Christian 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." (William A. Barry, SJ and William J. Connolly, SJ).  Usually directors and directees meet once a month for conversation and prayer.  There are a number of people trained and available for spiritual direction in the Winona area.  Please contact Campus Ministry for names and suggestions on initiating this relationship.

2. Small groups.  Discernment to the vocation of lay ministry is made easier--and more enjoyable--through community support.  To that end, we're encouraging students to consider participating in a small group for one academic year.  This is your chance to ask the questions with others about how the process is going (classes, paper, internships, volunteering, praying, discerning) in a confidential environment shared by friends.  If there is enough interest, we could help you start a small group.  Please contact Dr WD for more information.

Discerning: Retreat

The last element of the program is to participate in one discernment retreat for majors and interested minors, usually offered in January. Students may attend their junior or senior year (or both years). A time away can help a person recognize and name their vocation, and return to classes with new questions and fresh vigor.

This website is also a good source of online prayer resources and retreats.  One of the ongoing we hear from students in the graduate program in Pastoral Ministries is that even working in a parish, maintaining a consistent prayer life is hard.  They also say it is utterly necessary.  Anything you can do to establish that habit now is time well-spent (prayer is always time well-spent!).

Available discernment retreats are often mentioned through posts here.

Next up: the national standards concept map!  (More fun than it sounds like.)