Making mentors

Sister Susan Pieper, AVI, superior of the Apostles of the Interior Life, talks about the spiritual mentorship program Jan. 15 before a special Mass at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sister Susan Pieper, AVI, superior of the Apostles of the Interior Life, talks about the spiritual mentorship program Jan. 15 before a special Mass at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

Spiritual mentorship graduates in high demand as third group forms

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The bad news: There aren’t enough of them. The good news: More of them are on the way.

These people in demand are certified Catholic spiritual mentors.

The second group (or cohort) of 68 volunteers to complete the two-year program of formation and training to become spiritual mentors received their certificates from Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on Jan. 18 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Catholic Spiritual Mentorship program is a joint endeavor of the Apostles of the Interior Life and the archdiocesan-based Holy Family School of Faith.

“There is a great demand for spiritual mentorship and spiritual direction in general, but there are not many people available to do that,” said Sister Michela Brugnoli, of the Apostles of the Interior Life. “We constantly have people asking us for spiritual mentorship.”

The Apostles, however, do not have enough Sisters and Brothers to meet the demand.
It’s the same situation at Benedictine College, said Brother Leven Harton, a monk of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison.

“My abbot asked me [to enter the program] so I could do spiritual mentorship on the campus with students,” said Brother Leven. “We have more students than we can help with spiritual direction. Abbot James asked me to have more formation so I could do that work for the school.”

In recognition of this spiritual hunger on the part of many people in the archdiocese, Archbishop Naumann asked the Apostles of the Interior Life and the Holy Family School of Faith to design and implement a spiritual mentorship program.

The mentors — all volunteers — undergo a two-year program of training and study that includes basic theology, spiritual formation, and discernment and practicum. The mentors are certified upon completion of the program and are available through the School of Faith to offer their assistance to people.

The 72 mentors of the first cohort were certified in 2013, and the 68 mentors of the second cohort were certified on Jan. 18. Already, 50 members have been approved to join the third cohort, which will be certified in January 2017. There is room for approximately 30 more people to join the group.

The hunger for spiritual mentorship is such that all 72 members of the first cohort are fully occupied and are unable to accept additional mentees, said Cari Hillyer, operations manager for the Holy Family School of Faith.

The recently certified cohort was notable because it was the first to use printed Spanish language materials, said Hillyer. A complete set of Spanish language materials will be available for the third cohort, which begins study and formation in May.

Pam and Randy Brown, members of Church of Nativity Parish in Leawood, were among the married couples that received certification.

“Pam became interested through School of Faith classes,” said Randy. “She asked me if I would be interested. I didn’t think I would, because I was interested in learning primarily, but I decided to say yes.”

For Pam, the reasons were to “grow and share.”

“Like Randy, I had a great desire to grow and know the Lord more,” said Pam. “In this day and time, to share [spiritual] gifts is a real privilege. To learn and share felt like part of the call to grow [spiritually].”

Spiritual mentorship can be described as “spiritual accompaniment,” said Sister Michela. It’s friendship with God and friendship with others.

“You’re basically sharing [deep friendship] with God through your own spiritual life of prayer and growth,” said Pam. “You’re sharing sort of a friendship, using the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be the true mentor. We’re just opening up that friendship God provided us to the mentee.”

The tuition for the Spiritual Mentorship Program is $6,000 for the two years, which includes the cost of instruction, course materials, and room and board during weeklong residential sessions.

There is no charge or cost to be mentored.

For information about becoming a mentor, go to the School of Faith website at: www.schooloffaith.com.
If you want to be mentored, send an email to: support@schooloffaith.com.


About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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