Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Second Class of Spiritual Directors Certified for Ministry in the Diocese

Sixteen men and women have completed the Diocese’s formation program for spiritual directors and are now certified to serve in the ministry of guiding Catholics in their spirituality.

As spiritual directors, they will accompany individuals on their journey toward union with God, and help guide fellow Catholics into a deeper relationship with the Lord and His will for their lives.

Bishop Timothy Senior celebrated Mass for the newest class of spiritual directors on Saturday, February 24 at the Diocesan Center in Harrisburg.

The newly-formed spiritual directors are:

Deacon Thomas Ballinger
Mary Eileen Ciardullo
Sean Connolly
Michele Ann Conway
Jan DiIulio
Janice Elsen
Donna Marie Gilberti
Susan Gregonis

Donna Moyer
Michael Pretty
Paul Rast
Lisa Ritchie
Deacon Scott Root
Marcia Rush
Roger Smith
Jack Ward

The new class of spiritual directors are pictured with the bishop, their chaplain and their instructors. Front row from left are Father Stephen Kelley, chaplain; Susan Gregonis, Donna Moyer, Donna Marie Gilberti, Bishop Senior, Janice Elsen, Jan DiIulio, Lisa Richie, Roger Smith and Father Daniel Mitzel, a member of the Board of Directors. Middle row from left are Ellen Ciardullo, Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, program coordinator; Paul Rast, Carol Morel, instructor; Michele Ann Conway and Michael Pretty. Back row from left are Sean Connolly, Jack Ward, Deacon Scott Root, Deacon Thomas Ballinger and Rev. Lieutenant Gerald Sherbourne, a spiritual director of one of the graduates. Not pictured is Marcia Rush.

In his homily during the Mass, Bishop Senior addressed the new spiritual directors, saying, “Clearly the grace of God is working in each one of your lives through this program.”

“Christianity is not a religion for lone rangers – we need each other – we need to help each other in our faith. It is hard being a Christian, especially so in the world we live in today,” he said. “A spiritually focused life is, little by little, letting God take control of our lives…. He wants us to listen to His voice in our lives.”

“The journey does not end here of course,” the bishop said, before presenting the spiritual directors with their certificates. “You are to be instruments of the Holy Spirit for others.”

The 16 spiritual directors completed a three-year formation program on deepening their understanding and experience of ascetical and mystical ministry, ongoing discernment of the call to the ministry, applying the essentials of the interior life in the ministry of spiritual direction.

Eight years ago, recognizing the need for a formation program for spiritual directors, Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, and lay spiritual director Carol Morel worked under the consultation of Bishop Ronald Gainer and the College of Consultors to develop the program. The first cohort of nine graduates completed the program in 2021, and a third cohort began last month with Morel as the instructor and Melissa Maleski, Director of Laity and Family as the administrator. Sister Geralyn’s ministry with the formation program is concluding, due to her upcoming reassignment in June as Assistant to the President for Assumption College for Sisters in Denville, N.J.

For information on spiritual direction in the Diocese, contact Melissa Maleski at or 717-657-4804, ext. 331.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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