To ‘listen’ another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.
Douglas V. Steere
Sarah Donnelly has been receiving and participating in spiritual direction since 1990, and began to offer this listening ministry in 2002. Spiritual direction has also been called spiritual companioning.
Thomas Merton wrote: “Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director - the Holy Spirit - hidden in the depths of our soul.”
The following is a summary of Sarah’s reflection on the ministry of spiritual direction, and how she is able to offer this ministry today:
“I was born and raised in southern Ontario, receiving my undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo and my Masters of Divinity from St. Peter's Seminary (University of Western Ontario). I was the Director of the Family Resource Centre, Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary from 1994-2001, working in the areas of marriage preparation, support and enrichment, separated/divorced support, other healing and educational ministries, and offering workshops and retreats. I also started my own business during that time which allowed me to work within broader ecumenical circles.
A serious car accident in 2001 involved the death of someone I loved dearly, the ending of both my parent's marriage and my employment with the RC Diocese of Calgary. It was an extremely difficult and sad time in my life. But my road to recovery led me to meet and happily marry Scott Pittendrigh, who was then the rector of St. John's Anglican Church in Cobble Hill in 2003. After moving to Vancouver Island I continued to work in areas that I love: offering retreats, workshops, grief support groups, spiritual direction, and funerals to the ecumenical Christian community on Vancouver Island, throughout western Canada and beyond. I was baptized in the Anglican tradition, raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, and rejoined the Anglican Church of Canada in 2008. Scott and I lived in Cowichan Bay, BC for 10 years and moved to Saskatoon in 2012 when Scott was appointed as Rector and Dean of The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and I continue to work ecumenically in our new prairie home town.
I began to receive spiritual direction in 1990 when I started my Master's of Divinity and have enjoyed journeying with a spiritual director - usually meeting on a monthly basis - ever since. I have found the constant support, both in terms of prayerful encouragement and advice to be invaluable - it is one of the greatest gifts I continue to give myself. A spiritual director is someone who can offer a more objective perspective, and can remind us of truths that we often forget in the midst of busyness or a bout of discouragement. Because this relationship is not ‘therapy’ it can be ongoing, often lasting several years.
I first began to offer the ministry of spiritual direction in 2002 following my car accident. Since then I have had the privilege of accompanying many people on their own journey. While I did receive some training in this ministry during my studies at St. Peter's Seminary, the listening skills I offer have emerged through the lived experience of participating in this ministry both as "directee" and "director," personal reading and study, and belonging for several years to a monthly support group for spiritual directors to provide peer supervision. I enrolled in the Spiritual Director Training Program offered by The Haden Institute: Spiritual Direction in the Jungian, Mystical Christian Tradition, held at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls in the fall of 2010. This was an excellent two year program of distance learning with four one-week residencies, and I graduated from this program in May 2012. Today I am a member of the team of spiritual directors who offer this listening ministry through Queen's House Retreat and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon. I see my own spiritual director on a regular basis as well as a spiritual direction supervisor, and I am a member of Spiritual Directors International.
While I am available to anyone who would like to explore whether I would be a suitable spiritual director for them, I am particularly interested in working with people who have a desire to reflect upon the transition or loss they have experienced in their life, whether that be a sense of a loss (or change) of faith, hope or direction, the impact of a physical death in one’s life, the loss of good health or any other experience of meaningful and impactful transition that has resulted in new questions emerging. As my experience is grounded in Christian spirituality from a ‘progressive’ point of view I am most comfortable working with people coming from a Roman Catholic, Anglican or mainline Protestant background, whether they are currently attending a church or are on a ‘sabbatical’ from organized religion.”
Sarah’s current rate is $60-80 per session and sees people at her home office in Saskatoon, at Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre, or by using audiovideo: Skype, FaceTime and Messenger.
My journey in the loss and grief of our beloved daughter was supported with the grace, compassion, intelligence, professionalism and spiritual direction of Sarah Donnelly. My life and journey have been deeply enriched by my spiritual direction and journey with Sarah. She is a blessing in my life, and I know that she is an absolute grace within my life journey.
Sarah has a gift for making people feel safe, accepted and completely at ease, even with the tough stuff of life. When I’ve struggled with my sense of call and my direction for ministry, and when I’ve judged myself harshly for not keeping a prayer practice, or not acting in the way I think I should, Sarah has received me and my angst with compassion, grace and kindness. She has helped me to learn more about how I am made with help from her knowledge of the Enneagram. Sarah sees the blessings in my life when I am not yet able to and gently helps me to see them too. Spiritual Direction with Sarah is a blessing in my life and I am grateful.
I want to follow Jesus. How does that play out in my life? How can I become more intentional in my
relationship with God?
Through my four years journeying with Sarah in spiritual direction I have grown in my faith and have come to trust more in Jesus and depend less on my own need to control where life will take me.
Sarah is a good listener and asks some tough questions that call me to dig deeply to fully explore my most inner feelings and desires - connecting with these has allowed me to become more of the person God created me to be.