Loyola marks 40 years of offering spiritual direction

| April 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Since 1977, the Loyola Spirituality Center in St. Paul has been offering opportunities for people seeking spiritual direction.

The lay-run center, an independent nonprofit, offers spiritual direction, workshops and retreats throughout the year. Loyola’s staff serves all Christians.

“Spiritual direction is really for anyone who has noticed a hunger or a need for God in their lives, particularly when it revolves around their personal prayer life,” said Dan Johnson, a spiritual director and Loyola’s communication liaison.

Founded by then-Jesuit priest Dick Rice, who left priestly ministry in the 2000s, the center first operated out of St. Joseph Hospital in St. Paul. Rice had been offering spiritual direction, and he recognized the need to make it more widely available. Archbishop John Roach invited him to open Loyola. Now located next door to St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, Loyola operated as a Catholic institution until 2012, when it became independent from the Church. A majority of the spiritual directors are Catholic, but some are Protestant.

Loyola’s 13 spiritual directors have gone through training programs such as the spiritual direction certificate program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. They are also familiar with the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, which Johnson described as their common thread. Loyola also offers workshops and retreats, including one for clergy. School Sister of Notre Dame Sister Joanne Dehmer offers a retreat for women whose mothers have died.

Workshop topics include wisdom, aging, caregiver support and Enneagram basics. Enneagrams are a personality map with occult roots that the Church cautioned against in the 2003 pontifical document “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the ‘New Age’,” stating that “when used as a means of spiritual growth, [it] introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith.” Johnson, however, said they’re useful for understanding the human condition and “noticing some of our tendencies as humans, particularly some of the ways that we really get stuck or fall.”

Loyola celebrated its 40th anniversary April 8 at Carondelet Village auditorium in St. Paul.

“People find spiritual direction to be very helpful when they’re going through transitions in life,” Johnson said. “Spiritual direction is really the help that we receive to notice and come to understand and respond well to God’s movement in our lives.”


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Category: Travel and Pilgrimages