Group Spiritual Direction

“I look at God, I look at you, and I keep looking at God.” -St. Julian of Norwich

One of the seminal works on group spiritual direction was written by spiritual direction and Shalem Institute faculty member Rose Mary Dougherty. While group spiritual direction is similar to individual spiritual direction, it differs in some key ways.
In Group Spiritual Direction: Community for Discernment Dougherty writes,

“Group spiritual direction is a process in which people gather together on a regular basis to assist one another in an ongoing awareness of God in all of life. They are seeking support for their responsiveness to God and they agree to support others in that same responsiveness. Three conditions are essential to the life of the group. Members must agree to:

• commit themselves to an honest relationship with God
• to participate wholeheartedly in the group process through prayerful listening and response
• to open their spiritual journeys for consideration by others

“These conditions of themselves do not guarantee the effectiveness of group spiritual direction. They do, however, foster and reflect the willingness needed to engage in such a process. The depth of sharing necessary in group spiritual direction demands a level of trust not often found in other types of groups. This trust is not dependent upon similar personalities, mutual interests or common experiences; rather it is grounded in a trust of God’s desire for each participant individually as well as the group as a whole.”

Group spiritual direction is usually facilitated by a spiritual director who assists in tending the atmosphere and attentiveness of the group throughout the process. Group spiritual direction usually occurs around a specific issue of discernment, study or prayer and lasts for a circumscribed period of time (usually several months).

Unlike individual spiritual direction sessions, which last for about an hour, group spiritual direction usually lasts for about two and a half hours in order to make space for all members of the group.

Some topics group spiritual direction explores:

vocational or ministerial discernment

spiritual support for those in ministry

discernment around life issues

growing deeper with Christ

understanding the life of prayer 

exploring the Ignatian spiritual exercises


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If you have more questions about the value and purposes of spiritual direction, click here.

If you’re interested in individual spiritual direction, click here.

If you have specific questions, they are most likely answered here.

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