Companions in Ignatian Discernment: Am I Called to Spiritual Leadership or Direction?

An Online Spiritual Formation Elective

DATES (Synchronous Class Times)

June 12, 19, 26, July 10, 17, 24, 2021 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EASTERN


Join us for a communal journey of experiential learning and prayerful individual discernment for lay or ordained persons. Those interested in the class should be sensing a call to the ministry of spiritual leadership, companionship, and/or direction. During the class, you will engage in:

  • A guided Ignatian discernment process with the companionship and support of other participants and program leader(s) to nurture the dispositions of openness, generosity, courage, and interior freedom for decision-making;
  • Large and small group discussion, prayer, and group spiritual direction; and
  • Spiritual disciplines including daily 30-minute individual prayer and 10-15 minute prayer review time; daily Examen of Consciousness; and monthly individual spiritual direction.

By the end of the class, students should be able to:

  • Distinguish between spiritual discernment and decision-making.
  • Recognize the dispositions essential for the relational process of discernment.
  • Have insight into the variety of experiential pathways available for discernment.
  • Practice spiritual disciplines that establish the foundation and foster growth in interior freedom necessary for Christian discernment.
  • Distinguish among various “motions of the soul” as possible evidence of God’s desire for the person discerning.
  • Employ the principles of Ignatian discernment and steps of decision-making to discern a call.

Each participant may arrange one or two individual appointments with a program facilitator(s) during the program to share prayer and discernment experience.

Students interested in this class should be participating in a Christian faith community and have experienced a silent, directed retreat or the full Spiritual Exercises in any format. Also desirable is 6 months or more of spiritual direction. To explore your readiness for this class, please contact the instructor, Dr. Carolyn Nickerson.

Computer requirements

Plan ahead and be sure your computer is able to utilize Zoom. For detailed information about system requirements, click here


Carolyn J. Nickerson is a spiritual director with advanced certifications in spirituality and supervision from the WV Institute for Spirituality. She is currently a member of the Leadership Team for the Pneuma Spiritual Direction and Leadership Training Program of Pneuma Institute. In addition, she has led a variety of retreats for directors in training, on the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, and for those wanting annual silent, directed Ignatian retreats.


Required Text

Sparough, J. M., Manney, J. & Hipskind, T. (2010). What’s your decision: An Ignatian approach to decision-making. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press. ISBN 13: 978-0-8294-3148-3

Additional readings noted below will be made available to participants

de Mello, A. (2010).  Seek God everywhere: Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. New York, NY: Image/Doubleday. Chapter 9: “Contemplation to Attain the Love of God.”

Liebert, E. (2008). The way of discernment. Knoxville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. Chapter 11: “Confirming One’s Tentative Decision.”

Lonsdale, D. (1992). Listening to the music of the heart: The art of discernment. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.

Chapter 6: “To Love as Jesus Loved”

Chapter 8: “Obstacles to Discernment”

Martin, J. (2012). The Jesuit guide to (almost) everything: A spirituality for everyday life. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. Chapter 14: “The Contemplative in Action.”

Pickering, S. (2010). Spiritual direction: A practical introduction. London: Canterbury Press Norwich. Chapter 1: “What is Spiritual Direction?”

Silf, M. (2019). Inner compass: An invitation to Ignatian spirituality (Anniversary edition). Chicago, IL: Loyola Press. Excerpts about consolation and desolation from Chapter 6: “Tracking Our Moods.”

Traub, G. W. (Ed.). (2008). An Ignatian spirituality reader. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press. Chapter 11: Au, W. & Au, N. C. “Refining the Acoustics of the Heart.”





Maximum enrollment: 12 students. Register soon!

The registration fee includes all handouts except the required text and the ongoing monthly individual spiritual direction.


Email or call 412-924-1345.