The Spiritual Direction Certificate program here at Divine Mercy University is beginning its third academic term this August. The program has seen close to 90 students begin the path of deepening their skills in ministry. Students from the first cohort recently shared some of their experience in the program. Below are responses from Renee Pomarico, Monique Dinkel, and Jeff Garrett.
Renee, why did you choose the SDC program?
I chose the SDC program because of its integrative combination of psychology and theology. I’ve seen greater spiritual progress achieved once an individual understands and tackles psychological issues. In personal accompaniment sessions over the past fifteen years, I’ve yet to encounter someone from a perfect family with no issues. I resolved to find a program that provides depth of spirituality and human tools to work through psychological roadblocks caused by abuse, neglect, grief, broken homes, family issues, etc. DMU’s SDC certificate program best responds to the need of attending to both the person and his or her spiritual growth.
And what have you gained from the program thus far?
The program has greatly exceeded my expectations. One takeaway is that I modified my approach toward spiritual direction, becoming less resolution oriented and more inquisitive, leaving greater room for the Holy Spirit to take over (and he does!). I have seen positive results with my directees. Recently, when asked by one what I was doing, I mentioned finishing up a course. She continued to probe and when she found out what type of course I was taking, she opened up another part of her life which needed healing. She found answers through understanding attachment theory and ways to work on current difficulties in relationships stemming from tensions at home as a child.
Jeff, what have been your take-aways from the program?
I have learned quite a bit so far. I have been exposed to some excellent resources that will help me in my own spiritual direction and in giving spiritual direction to others. I have a greater foundation in growing my relationship with God. I have also been to meet other students virtually and learned from them during our online conversations and Zoom sessions.
What is your favorite part of the learning modules?
I have enjoyed the videos. I like learning about other resources that I have not used before. I also have enjoyed learning from the other students in the discussions.
Monique, what is your favorite part of the learning modules?
The resources, both reading and video, offer great depth of thought in the given topic and I enjoy the resources immensely. My favorite part of the modules is the discussions. It's in the discussions that the students get to know each other and gather perspectives other than our own. The student discussions are of the highest caliber, with lots of personal experience and knowledge shared. I've gained so much wisdom from my fellow students!
Who has been your favorite professor so far and why?
Dr. Ian Murphy was a joy to have as an instructor. His deep spirituality was best expressed in his joy of walking through life with Christ. He always found positive things to say in his critiques without shying away from encouraging suggestions for improvement. I would be pleased to take more classes with Dr Murphy.
Lastly, can you describe how the courses have impacted you?
SDC 100 ("Ongoing Conversion, Deepening Discipleship") delved deeply into spirituality and often felt like being on an extended retreat. What a pleasant surprise to find myself growing closer to our Lord through the coursework! The concept of "break a sweat listening" is one I'm trying to incorporate across my life. SDC 200 ("Human Development for Spiritual Direction") offers the refreshing perspective that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and meant to be in relationship with their creator. Including the effect of the relationship with God on psychological health is empowering for us as spiritual directors. I am better able to see the human person as a whole, with spiritual health a major factor in psychological health.