Four-Year Spiritual Direction Formation Program

4-Year Spiritual Direction Formation Program

Fairfield University offers a four year certificate program in spiritual direction. This program is for adults who sense a call to serve as spiritual directors or who wish to discern that call by means of this program.

We understand the busyness and demands of life. This program is designed for those whose schedules may not allow time for daytime, evening or weekend classes or extended residency periods. Our program includes one week intensive residency period each year. The rest of the year is spent in distance learning from home under the guidance of an assigned mentor (faculty member).

Program Specifics

This program is grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Ignatian method of spiritual direction.  The theological underpinnings (as noted below) of each year of formation will correspond to, and be appropriately explored within, the programmatic content of the Spiritual Exercises authored by Ignatius.   It is not necessary for candidates to have had experience with Ignatian spirituality or, for that matter, the Spiritual Exercises to enter and engage in this formation program.

  1. Conversion:  Rediscovering the Meaning of Sin and Grace
    Introduction to Scripture; enneagram; issues in spiritual direction; supervised practice of spiritual direction
  2. Christology:  Exploring the Contemporary Meaning of Jesus
    Major themes of Scripture; discernment; issues in spiritual direction; supervised practice of spiritual direction
  3. Kenosis:  Christian Anthropology and the Paschal Mystery
    Faith development; sexuality; the Christian journey; issues in spiritual direction; supervised practice of spiritual direction
  4. God in All Things:  Models of the Church, Sacramentality, Social Justice
    History of Christian spirituality; dreams; issues in spiritual direction; supervised practice of spiritual direction

Residency week takes place at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, NC, just north of Greensboro. During residency week, students are involved/immersed in the following:

  • Formal classroom sessions, supervised practicum in the practice of spiritual direction, an understanding of 1/1 supervision, daily prayer and reflection through the process of Holy Listening and daily liturgy
  • Daily "Track" meetings with students at similar levels of experience, including supervised practicum in the practice of spiritual direction.

For the balance of the year, and from home, students are required to:

  • Read and reflect on certain assigned books and articles 
  • Submit 2 in-depth self-evaluations per year (5-10 pages each)
  • Meet with an assigned mentor (faculty member) quarterly (via phone)
  • Make a 5-7 day annual silent, directed retreat
  • Remain in the process of spiritual direction

Students who begin to sit with individuals in direction are required to do so under supervision and must obtain their own supervisor (faculty may offer recommendations for trained, experienced supervisors). In addition, the student must:

  • Write and submit 8 contemplative verbatims per year (Track 3)
  • Meet regularly with his/her supervisor to review all verbatims; discuss any learning or consultation questions

Students practicing spiritual direction under supervision will be evaluated twice each year by their supervisor. 


Candidates who complete all four phases of formation are eligible for a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. This Certificate is awarded to students who complete all requirements, including offering direction under supervision and completing all verbatime requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

Candidates for admission must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a minimum of 30 years of age
  • Be in spiritual direction for at least one year prior to admission
  • Be an active member of a faith community

Application Form
Tuition payment link


  • Current Tuition: $1,250 for the year; covers costs for classes and materials provided for residency week, four faculty advisory meetings, speakers' fees. Tuition is payable. in full no later than May 1 each year.
  • Tuition Payment: Payment may be made in one of two ways:  by check payable to Fairfield University and can be mailed directly to Fairfield University to Elizabeth Hastings, Fairfield University, Donnarumma 251, North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824
  • OR by clicking the Tuition Payment link directly above this section (see application process for details.)

Lodging, Use of Facilities, Meals

  • Lodging at St. Francis Springs includes sleeping accommodations, use of meeting rooms, all meals; contact St. Francis Springs directly for costs associated with on-campus lodging (single or double occupancy, all rooms include private bath.)
  • If you choose to stay offsite, you will be charged for meals and use of the facility during resiency week.  Please contact Ann Bauer for meal plan options.
  • Payment for room/meals is made payable directly to St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, 477 Grogan Rd., Stoneville, NC, 27048
  • Call Ann Bauer at St. Francis Springs at (336) 573-3751 to make your lodging/meal accommodations or email inquiries to
  • Ground transportation to and from the Greensboro airport may be provided by St. Francis Springs volunteers based on availability; candidates are responsible for contacting  St. Francis Springs directly prior to travel to arrange for transportation

Important Dates

We are accepting applications for June 2019 cohort.

2019 Residency Period: June 9 - 15, 2019
Application Deadline: March 1, 2019

2020 Residency Period: June 14 - 20, 2020
Application Deadline: March 1, 2020

2021 Residency Period: June 13 - 19, 2021
Application Deadline: March 1, 2021


Maria Tattu Bowen, Ph.D., Spiritual Director, Supervisor, Professor
Maria has 27 years offering spiritual direction.  She has formed and supervised spiritual directors in a cross-cultural context for more than 20 years.  Co-founder of Together in the Mystery, Maria trains supervisors from around the world in partnership with San Francisco Theological Seminary and trains spiritual directors with their Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program.  She is a faculty member with Fairfield University’s Spiritual Direction Formation Program and CenterQuest Spiritual Direction School.  Maria has contributed essays to Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery (Morehouse, 2005); Sacred is the Call: Formation and Transformation in Spiritual Direction (Crossroad, 2005); Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry; and will have an article published in Presence in 2017.  She complements her Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality and Masters in Applied Spirituality with body-centered spiritual direction modalities including Inner-Relationship Focusing and Intuition Medicine. Maria offers spiritual direction and supervision both long-distance and in-person in Morro Bay, California.

Rev. James Bowler, SJ, M.A., M.Div.
Fr. Jim currently serves as pastoral minister at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC, focusing on spiritual direction, supervision of spiritual directors, offering the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and his role in promulgating Fairfield University’s Spiritual Direction Formation Program, where he also serves as an instructor.   He served for more than 20 years in the area of spiritual direction as director of Campion Renewal Center, executive director of the National Jesuit Retreat and Renewal Ministries and as a staff member at the Guelph Center of spirituality in Ontario, where he was responsible for training and supervising spiritual directors in the Ignatian tradition

Eileen Crusan, Spiritual Director, Supervisor
Eileen serves as a spiritual director and supervisor in Charlotte, NC.  She completed a four year formation program in spiritual direction, graduating from Villa Maria Education/Spirituality Center. She is also a graduate of the Together in the Mystery Program, a supervisory training program affiliated with San Francisco Theological Seminary. Eileen serves as a faculty member with Fairfield University’s Spiritual Direction Formation Program and is an instructor in the Together in the Mystery supervisory program. She offers direction to individuals in person, via phone and in small group format and offers supervision to directors and students in formation in an individual format in person, via phone and peer group format.  She is trained in Ignatian spirituality, offering the experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Eileen is the founder of Holy Ground of the Carolinas, a spirituality center offering spiritual direction, supervision and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  She is a member of Spiritual Directors International.

Deborah Delano, Spiritual Director, Retreat Guide
Deborah Delano received her formation as a spiritual director at the Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center and currently practices spiritual direction at St. Peter’s parish in Charlotte, NC.  Deborah was first drawn to the ministry of spiritual direction through her own experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and she continues to find Ignatian spirituality a wellspring of joy and blessing. She has worked for over thirty years in corporate finance, where she has learned first-hand to “find God in all things.” Deborah is an enthusiastic student and teacher of the Enneagram, a powerful tool for deepening self-awareness on the spiritual journey.  She loves to explore the many dimensions of spirituality using Jungian and depth psychology, poetry, music, literature, and art. 

Rebecca Bradburn Langer, D.Min., Spiritual Director, Supervisor
Rebecca is a trained, experienced spiritual director and supervisor, currently residing in Fernandina Beach, Florida. She earned her D. Min. at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She has served as a spiritual director and retreat leader for more than thirty years and as a supervisor and trainer of spiritual directors for more than twenty years. Rebecca has been in various positions of the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program at San Francisco Theological Seminary and co-founder, with Dr. Bowen, of the supervisory component called Together in the Mystery. She co-edited, with Mary Rose Bumpus, a Spiritual Directors International book on supervision entitled Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery (Morehouse, 2005). She also is the author of “Harvest of Righteousness “. Rebecca is retired as a Presbyterian minister.

Please direct any questions you may have about the program to:

Eileen Crusan


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