Spiritual Directors Institute

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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 2024 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
  • One week residency for cohort seminars (June 10-14, 2024 and June 16-20, 2025)
  • Reading list for Summer I to be completed prior to June Cohort Gathering. Reading list for Summer II (sent January 1, 2024) to be completed prior to the June Cohort Gathering

Year One

Fall 2023 – Spring 2024 – 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 June term.  

June 10-14, 2024 – The candidate joins his/her Cohort Group at Loyola House, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY for one-week of prayer, reflection and course work. The two courses are: The Theology and Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises (taught by Fr. Thomas Slon S.J. Curriculum Vitae) and A Pre-Practicum in Spiritual Direction (taught by Dr. Damian Zynda Curriculum Vitae).

Year Two

Fall 2024 – Spring 2025 – Practicum in spiritual direction.  Candidates will engage in supervised spiritual direction, directing one person through the Spiritual Exercises (19th Annotation Retreat) OR direct two people in on going spiritual direction for nine months.  Candidates 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 June term.  

June 16-20, 2025 – The candidate joins his/her cohort group at Loyola House, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY for one week 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 $900 per year (does not include books).

Practicum Supervision: $800 for 9 months supervision (payable in August 2024).

Room and board is $600 for the week.

Airfare, other transportation and other personal expenses are the responsibility of the candidate.

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

Registration closes May 15, 2024.

For More Information

Damian Zynda, Th.D.
Institute Director
c/o McQuaid Jesuit

As Director of Mission and Ministry at McQuaid Jesuit, Dr. Damian Zynda forms leaders in McQuaid Jesuit’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.