Spiritual Directors Institute

Five hundred years ago, in 1521, as he defended the Fortress at Pamplona, Inigo de Loyola was felled by a cannon ball that shattered his leg. So began a great spiritual journey…

Commemorate the Ignatian Year Through
Prayer, Spirituality and Spiritual Direction in the Ignatian Tradition

Dates: July 19-23, 2021
Location: Loyola Hall on the Canisius College Campus, Buffalo, NY
Cost: $600 (includes tuition, coffee, snacks, and lunch)
Instructor: Dr. Damian Zynda, director of Mission and Ministry at McQuaid Jesuit
Host: Fr. Thomas Slon, S.J., rector of the Canisius Jesuit Community

Responding to the Society of Jesus’ Universal Apostolic Preference, to promote the Spiritual Exercises and Discernment, the Western New York Region of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus is pleased to offer a weeklong course on Prayer, Spirituality and Spiritual Direction in the Ignatian Tradition.

Course description: This course is an introduction to Ignatian contemplative prayer found throughout the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. It combines experience in prayer, reflection on experience, discernment, and spiritual direction with theological underpinnings of each element. The course is intended for persons who seek a personal relationship with Jesus as the foundation for their discipleship and/or ministry. It is the gateway for making the 19th Annotation Retreat from September 2021 – May 2022 and ongoing formation in the discernment of becoming a spiritual director.

  • Monday
    • The Goal of the Spiritual Life – Conversion
    • The Theology and Dynamics of Conversion
  • Tuesday
    • The Role of the Trinity in the Spiritual Life
    • The Role of Grace in Ignatian Prayer
  • Wednesday
    • Graced, Wounded and Beloved: Called to be Human and Divine
    • Discipleship: Friendship with Jesus
  • Thursday
    • Desire at the Heart of Ignatian Spirituality
    • Refining our Desires
  • Friday
    • Discernment as a Way of Life
    • Presence as a Ministry of Service

Daily Schedule: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

  • 8:30 a.m. – Prayer, Reflection, Course Work
  • 11:30 a.m.  – Mass
  • Noon – Lunch
  • 1 p.m. – Course Work

Instructor: Damian Zynda ThD. is the director of Mission and Ministry at McQuaid Jesuit in Rochester, NY. She completed a doctorate in Systematic Theology and Christian Spirituality from the University of St. Michael’s College and the University of Toronto. Damian is on faculty in the Christian Spirituality Program and the Master of Ministry at Creighton University and St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. She is a spiritual director and involved in the formation of spiritual directors and the supervision of spiritual directors in the Ignatian tradition.  Damian has directed retreats in the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain and Ireland and has presented numerous workshops and lectures on spiritual direction, the supervision of spiritual directors and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius locally and at National Conferences. Interested in the intersection of spirituality and psychology, Damian’s first book, Archbishop Oscar Romero – A Disciple Who Revealed the Glory of God, traces the spiritual development and psychological growth of St. Oscar Romero, articulating a Spirituality of Conversion that is both human and divine.

Host: Fr. Thomas R. Slon, S.J., is the rector of the Canisius Jesuit Community in Buffalo, NY. He earned his Masters in Divinity and Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, MA, now the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. He also holds a Masters in Architecture from the Catholic University of America, and worked as an architect renovating church buildings until he was missioned to internal governance and administration in the Society of Jesus. He is spiritual director for seminarians, deacons and priests, candidates for the Society of Jesus, and others.

For more information, 716 888 2228 or tslon@jesuits.org.

Forming Spiritual Directors in the Ignatian Tradition

Image result for ignatian spiritual direction

In 2019, the Society of Jesus announced four “Universal Apostolic Preferences” to guide its mission over the next ten years. In describing the preferences, Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., Superior General, stated, “Our desire has been to find the best way to collaborate in the Lord’s mission, the best way to serve the Church at this time, the best contribution we can make with what we are and have, seeking to do what is for the greater divine service and the more universal good.”

Jesuit schools have been forming young women and men of “competence, conscience and compassion” since 1548 when the first school opened in Messina, Sicily. 

Jesuit schools have the unique opportunity to embrace the four Universal Apostolic Preferences. The Spiritual Directors Institute focuses on two:

  1.  To accompany the young in the creation of a hope-filled future

“Our works seek to be spaces open to youthful creativity, spaces that both foster an encounter with the God of life revealed by Jesus and deepen the Christian faith of the young.

      2.  To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment

“We want to share with others the most fundamental discovery of our lives, namely, that discernment and the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius show the way to God.”

The Spiritual Directors’ Institute is a response to the Universal Apostolic Preferences.  The Institute is a two year formation process that includes theological foundations and practicum in Ignatian spiritual direction and discernment spanning two academic years. The program prepares the participant to engage in spiritual direction and individual and communal discernment.


  • Participants have made the Spiritual Exercises in either the 30 Day or 19th Annotation formats prior to the 2022 summer of studies
  • Participant is receiving spiritual direction (if one is not currently making the Spiritual Exercises)
  • Application to the Institute and Letter of Intent
  • Letter of Recommendation from the participant’s Director of the Works or Supervisor
  • Two week residency for cohort seminars (July 11-22, 2022 and July 10-21, 2023)
  • Reading list for Summer I (sent January 1, 2022) to be completed prior to July Cohort Gathering. Reading list for Summer II (sent January 1, 2023) to be completed prior to the  July Cohort Gathering.

Year One:

Fall 2021 – Spring 2022 – Participants make the full Spiritual Exercises either in the 30-Day or Nineteenth Annotation models. This experience takes place in his or her home city, and the Institute Director facilitates details.

Participants complete the reading syllabus in advance of the July term.  

July 11-22, 2022 – The candidate joins his/her Cohort Group in Rochester, NY for two-weeks of prayer, reflection and course work.  The two courses are: The Theology and Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises and A Pre-Practicum in Spiritual Direction.

Year Two:

Fall 2022 – Spring 2023 – Practicum in spiritual direction.  Candidates will engage in supervised spiritual direction, directing two people once a month for nine months.  The participants will meet individually once a month with her/his supervisor. Student-directors will submit verbatims and reflections on supervision, as well as a final reflection at the end of the practicum to the Institute’s Director.

Participants complete the reading syllabus in advance of the July term.  

July 10-21, 2023 – The candidate joins his/her cohort group in Rochester, NY for two-weeks of prayer, reflection, and course work. The two courses are: The Theology and Practice of the Discernment of Spirits and Post-Practicum in Spiritual Direction.

Tuition and Fees:

Summers: Tuition is $800 for two classes.

Practicum Supervision: $700 for 9 months supervision

Room, board and transportation is $800.

Airfare and other personal expenses are separate.

The program also sponsors optional weekend excursions for additional fees. Tours of the Finger Lakes wine country or Niagara Falls, are examples of opportunities to experience the natural beauty of Upstate New York, and to deepen colleagueship within and among the group. Other self-guided opportunities, which incur no additional programmatic fees, are available throughout the Rochester area.

School Year: Fees for making the Spiritual Exercises, books and other school year expenses are the responsibility of the candidate.


CLICK HERE to register. Registration is due no later than May 1, 2022.

For More Information:

Damian Zynda, Th.D.
Institute Director
c/o McQuaid Jesuit
Email: dzynda@mcquaid.org
Phone: 585-256-6103

As Director of Ignatian Identity at McQuaid Jesuit, Dr. Damian Zynda forms leaders in McQuaid’s adult community in Ignatian Spirituality and Jesuit Pedagogy. She holds a doctorate in Theology from the University of St. Michael’s College, the Toronto School of Theology (2004), and Certifications in Advanced Jesuit Studies from Boston College (2016), Spiritual Direction in the Spiritual Exercises, Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario, Canada (1991), and Supervision of Spiritual Directors from St. Meinrad’s School of Theology, St. Meinrad, Indiana (2014).  Since 2004 she has been on faculty in the Christian Spirituality and Master of Ministry Programs at Creighton University forming spiritual directors in the Ignatian Tradition for almost two decades. Damian is an active member of the JSN Ignatian Identity and Mission Officers’ Cohort and UNE Province Mission and Identity Cohort.