Helping people, helping groups: companion ministries

Sister Kay Taylor (right), Provincial of the Canossian Daughters of Charity, presents Providence Sister Jeannette Filthaut with a pewter carving of the creation story as a gift for facilitating their 2014 Provincial Chapter.


Spiritual direction and process facilitation might seem like strange bedfellows, yet I have found them each to be enriching and collaborative.

As a spiritual director I am called to listen attentively to another’s spiritual journey; listening to the nudgings of the Spirit when I ask questions or share something to assist the directee in deepening their relationship with God. Hearing where their journey is taking them unfolds as we are attentive to the present moments of what’s happening in their lives now.

As a process facilitator I also listen attentively to the group before me, asking the questions in the initial planning meeting that will assist me in developing a process to guide this group in their desired outcome. Listening is key in these two ministries, but so is being open and flexible to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Preparation for both of these ministries is essential. Before a directee arrives, I personally reflect and review, finding a prayer/scripture that might speak to where this person presently might be on their journey. I set the environment to make it welcoming and conducive to reflective sharing, including a steeped cup of tea as part of the process. 

Many hours of preparation go into process facilitation, planning a gathering like a Provincial or General Chapter, but contemplative prayer is key to each day of the process. It’s in this quiet listening to God’s Word, and then the sharing in small groups, where we deepen our relationship with one another and discover where the Spirit is guiding the group. As a result, when the actual work begins, what transpires has a more reflective base and the interaction/dialogue between members is more spiritual than confrontative.

Although I’ve done a lot of preparation for both ministries, I often feel like an “empty flute” that God uses to assist the individual or group in their discernment. Even as this “empty flute,” I too am blessed to experience the workings of the Spirit in the individual or group – and the notes of my own life experience are richer for the presence and sharing of these people.