What is Spiritual Direction? Do you wish to deepen your spiritual journey? Would you like to integrate your spiritual insights into your life choices? Meeting regularly with a professionally trained Spiritual Director enables you to expand your spiritual life and journey with God. The simple sharing of your life experiences is a rich source of meaning and understanding of how God is ever-present and active in your daily life and how you may be called to greater fullness of life. Genesis has a staff of professionally trained Spiritual Directors with areas of experience and expertise including aging, creative expression and poetry, body image and food issues, Contemplative Practices, grief and loss, the mystics, Ignatian Spirituality, BioSpiritual Focusing, EcoSpirituality, and 12 Step Spirituality.
Spiritual Direction/Accompaniment focuses on the Divine Presence in daily life and seeks to enable a person to respond to the movements of that Presence in ever deeper and broader ways by intentionally meeting with a spiritual director/a companion on a regular basis to share about what is happening in their relationship with self, God, others and creation.
The gifts for you could be:
Experiencing the unconditional love and mercy of God
Growing in personal identity by trusting the deep needs of your heart
Learning to grow in your spirituality
Becoming more aware of the Divine Presence in all of life experiences
Listening and watching, in a contemplative mode, for the movements of the Spirit and the counter movements of resistance in the deepening relationship
Deeper and more meaningful discernment in making choices
Healing wounds experienced in life’s journey
If you are interested in tending to your spirit in an on-going way and deepening your relationship with self, God, others and creation, this may be for you. A session is one hour every 4-6 weeks. Donations average $45 to $65 per session. However, please do not let finances prevent you from this service. To learn more about whether Spiritual Direction is right for you, email JoAnn or call her at 413-364-9796. If you're interested in Spiritual Direction, you may Download our Spiritual Direction Questionnaire.
Christina Leaño - Spiritual Director
Christina Leaño brings over 12 years of experience offering spiritual programs and guidance to diverse audiences. From weekend retreats to spiritual direction, nature-based experiences to meditation classes, her passion is to create opportunities to facilitate people's spiritual growth and integration while highlighting the seamlessness between personal and social transformation; contemplation and action.
Christina's work is grounded in her Catholic contemplative background, her Buddhist studies and practice of 20 years, training as a mindfulness teacher, and lifelong commitment to ecological and social justice. She holds a BA from Yale University and an MA from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.
JoAnn Bourquard - Spiritual Director
Jo Ann is an experienced spiritual director with 18 years of experience with individuals and groups, both in Massachusetts and Connecticut. She holds a Masters Degree in Ministry with a Concentration in Spirituality from Hartford Seminary. She also holds a certificate in Women’s Leadership. Her formation as a spiritual director and supervisor was at the Spiritual Life Center in Bloomfield, CT. She has since been involved in formation of Supervisors there. Jo Ann is certified to teach the Enneagram and is knowledgeable in Jungian spiritual direction. She is an experienced educator and speaker; an accomplished retreat leader, and has facilitated discernment days of reflection for organizations and groups of with themed topics as loss, self-care, prayer, and life transition. Jo Ann's directees come from all walks of life, a variety of religious traditions as well as those who are searching. She has particular experience with ministry to widowed and divorced persons as well as those with serious illnesses. She is committed to personal growth and believes that spiritual direction is a vital way to transform the world.
Jane Comerford, CSJ - Spiritual Director
"Many years ago I read the book The Listener by Taylor Caldwell. In this novel anguished souls are drawn to a sanctuary inscribed with the words, 'The Man Who Listens'. All those who come to unburden their cares in his presence find peace, joy, hope and happiness from the unknown one who sits and listens."
Little did Sr. Jane know at the time that she would become an “official listener” by becoming a spiritual director. Spiritual directors accompany others on their life’s journey, supporting them as they seek a deeper relationship with the God of their understanding and with themselves. For Sr. Jane, the heart of being a spiritual director is being a listener to the one who comes to share their story. You sit together in the Divine Presence. By becoming aware of the movement of the Divine Presence in your life, you can experience peace, joy, hope and happiness.
She is a seasoned spiritual director with 35 years experience and has accompanied people from many faith traditions and those who have none. She has worked with 12 step people, mid-life people, LBGT people, people in transition due to retirement, aging, divorce, death of a loved one etc. Sr. Jane completed a Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality, a certificate program in expressive arts therapy and has specialized training in mid-life issues. According to Sr. Jane, the part of her ministry that has given her the most joy is in being a spiritual director and witnessing how God moves in mysterious ways in the lives of people.
Donna O'Connor - Spiritual Director
Donna O’Connor completed the Spiritual Direction Internship Program in Bloomfield, CT in 2006. She has focused her 1:1 work entirely at Genesis since that time. Having taught fitness/yoga classes for over thirty years now, Donna has a particular interest in helping people who struggle with weight, body image and disordered eating, and is experienced in 12-Step Spirituality. As a BioSpiritual Focusing Facilitator, she often introduces the tool of BioSpiritual Focusing in her sessions should a directee be interested in this process. “Spiritual Direction is a sure way to access the power of the Great Unseen Wisdom, which resides deeply within each of us and awaits our desire to grow and journey forward into a more intimate relationship with God, our Source”.
Elizabeth Oleksak, SP - Spiritual Director
"Spiritual guidance is a gift for the one receiving it and the one offering it. One may say it is simply Grace."
Sr. Elizabeth Oleksak, SP, foundress of Genesis, is an experienced retreat and spiritual director and BioSpiritual Focusing facilitator. Sr. Elizabeth has a background in pastoral counseling. She studied Centering Prayer with the Trappist Monks in the 1970's. She is also an eco-spirituality resource person.
Recent years have drawn out the best and the worst in our human family making typical mechanisms for ignoring or dodging unpleasant realities virtually impossible. It’s a hard grace. It means we have to look deeply into the shadows, our own as well as the collective shadow which is so magnified now. What we find there, and the way we engage it will flavor the quality of shared life for generations to come. There is immense power for both good and ill in this time of threshold crossing. Our choices matter.
It makes our work as spiritual directors in this moment all the more critical.
As these currents and cross-currents ripple through the souls and lives of those we tend, it asks much of us as discerning, praying witnesses to these profound movements. Sometimes the good is the enemy of the best, and sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. And sometimes they simply co-exist. One commentator speaks of the demonic as “a partial truth attempting to take over the whole.” A partial truth can seduce and glitter without having true value but comes at a tremendous cost. We live in a world of partial truths and are participant in their generation.
Simply stated, we need each other to stay healthy and to assist in sifting what the genuine invitations of the Spirit are in our time. As colleagues and sojourners for 25 years we know what a difference it makes to invoke the discerning community of depth journeyers as the tumult increases. We believe it is time to call together a cohort of experienced* spiritual directors to intentionally explore the art of Spiritual Direction in a Time of Deepening Shadow.
From September 2021 through May 2022 we will offer a series of 14 sessions via Zoom exploring the various dimensions of this moment, our response to it, and our practice of spiritual direction within it.
Please consider applying to join in this pilot series for a time such as this.
* Those who have worked with a range of directees over a number of years. There will be a public offering on 9/11 on Living in a Time of Deepening Shadow for those with general interest in the topic or new to the ministry of spiritual direction.
"The greatest challenge of the day is to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each of us." - Dorothy Day