Companions in Ignatian Discernment: Am I Called to Spiritual Leadership or Direction?

June 5, 2021 - July 17, 2021
June 5, 12, 19, 26, July 10, 17, 2021 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EASTERN

This class is intended for lay or ordained persons sensing a call to the ministry of spiritual leadership, companionship, and/or direction. Companions in Discernment is a communal journey of experiential learning and prayerful individual discernment.

While participating in this class, participants will engage in formation and discernment processes that include:

  • Immersion in a guided Ignatian discernment process with the companionship and support of other participants and program leader(s) to nurture the dispositions of openness, generosity, courage, and interior freedom for decision-making.
  • Participation in large and small group discussion, prayer, and group spiritual direction.
  • Engagement in the following spiritual disciplines for the duration of the program:
    • Daily 30 minutes individual prayer and 10-15 minute prayer review time;
    • Daily Examen of Consciousness
    • Monthly individual spiritual direction.

We anticipate that by the end of the program, participants will have:

  • Distinguished between spiritual discernment and decision-making.
  • Recognized the dispositions essential for the relational process of discernment.
  • Experienced insight into the variety of experiential pathways available for discernment.
  • Practiced spiritual disciplines that establish the foundation and foster growth in interior freedom necessary for Christian discernment.
  • Distinguished among various “motions of the soul” as possible evidence of God’s desire for the person discerning.
  • Employed the principles of Ignatian discernment and steps of decision-making to discern a call to the ministry of spiritual leadership, companionship and/or direction.

Each participant may arrange one or two indiviidual appointments with a program facilitator(s) during the program to share prayer and discernment experience.

Readiness for participation in this program is ordinarily grounded in the following individual history and/or experiences:

  • Current participation in a Christian faith community.
  • Experience of ongoing spiritual direction for at least 6 months. (A letter of reference from the applicant’s spiritual director is required.)
  • Experience of having completed a silent, directed retreat of any length (3, 5, or 8 day) or the full Spiritual Exercises in any format.

If you would like to explore your readiness for this program, please contact the instructor, Dr. Carolyn Nickerson, for an interview.

Computer requirements

Plan ahead and be sure your computer is able to utilize Zoom. Zoom provides detailed information about the computer system requirements for participation in Zoom sessions (see link below).


Carolyn J. Nickerson


Required Text

Sparough, J. M., Manney, J. & Hipskind, T. (2010). What’s your decision: An Ignatian approach to decision-making. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press. ISBN 13: 978-0-8294-3148-3

Additional readings noted below will be made available to participants

de Mello, A. (2010).  Seek God everywhere: Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. New York, NY: Image/Doubleday. Chapter 9: “Contemplation to Attain the Love of God.”

Liebert, E. (2008). The way of discernment. Knoxville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. Chapter 11: “Confirming One’s Tentative Decision.”

Lonsdale, D. (1992). Listening to the music of the heart: The art of discernment. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.

Chapter 6: “To Love as Jesus Loved”

Chapter 8: “Obstacles to Discernment”

Martin, J. (2012). The Jesuit guide to (almost) everything: A spirituality for everyday life. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. Chapter 14: “The Contemplative in Action.”

Pickering, S. (2010). Spiritual direction: A practical introduction. London: Canterbury Press Norwich. Chapter 1: “What is Spiritual Direction?”

Silf, M. (2019). Inner compass: An invitation to Ignatian spirituality (Anniversary edition). Chicago, IL: Loyola Press. Excerpts about consolation and desolation from Chapter 6: “Tracking Our Moods.”

Traub, G. W. (Ed.). (2008). An Ignatian spirituality reader. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press. Chapter 11: Au, W. & Au, N. C. “Refining the Acoustics of the Heart.”