Encountering Jesus

In our highly impersonal, technology-driven society, there exists a longing to connect to each other and to Christ. While the Catholic Church and religious orders customarily provide spiritual direction for the ordained and consecrated, today the lay faithful also increasingly turn to spiritual direction to grow closer to Christ, heal from spiritual wounds, and handle life’s demands.

In spiritual direction, those who seek deeper intimacy with God open their hearts to a spiritual director who travels with them on their spiritual journey. This becomes like the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well, the return of the prodigal son, and the blind man Bartimaeus—in which each person encounters the Lord and experiences ongoing conversion.

The School

The Franciscan University of Steubenville School of Spiritual Direction provides a way to elevate your soul through prayer so you can then help others encounter Jesus Christ and come into deeper intimacy with him.

Through class presentations, praying with Sacred Scripture, personal prayer, retreats, supervised skills practice, and other formation, you will grow in self-knowledge and knowledge of God and develop tools for your spiritual tool box so you can help directees achieve greater intimacy with God. Online videos from Franciscan University’s Catechetical Institute will help fill any gaps in your basic knowledge of theology, philosophy, Sacred Scripture, and other disciplines. You will also receive training in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The certification program can be completed during the academic year in three consecutive years, or in a condensed two-week, three-summer program format.

Program Formats

The School of Spiritual Direction provides certification training through two program formats.

  • A 24-week program is offered during the academic year at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Cohorts of no more than 20 individuals will meet one night a week for two hours from October to May for three consecutive years.
  • The Summer Intensive Program covers much of the same material as the 24-week program but meets on campus for two weeks every summer for three consecutive years.


Upon completion, you will be certified by Franciscan University to offer individual spiritual direction through affiliating with a parish, a retreat center, Newman Center, or a ministry sponsored by a religious order or Church organization.

The Students

The program is best suited for mature Catholics including priests, religious, deacons, formators, catechists, and lay faithful from all backgrounds and lived experiences.

The Instructors

Instructors include staff of the School of Spiritual Direction, deacons, laity, and faculty from Franciscan University of Steubenville’s theology, psychology, and other departments.

The Mission

The curriculum is faithful to the magisterium of the Catholic Church and embraces Franciscan University’s call to educate, evangelize, and send forth joyful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Cor ad Cor Loquitur

John Henry Newman’s motto, Cor ad Cor Loquitur—“Heart Speaks to Heart,” refers to the relationship between the human heart and God. This communion of hearts is the goal of spiritual direction and beautifully expresses the mission of Franciscan University’s School of Spiritual Direction.

The Cost

Our two-week Summer Intensive Program costs $3,000.00 per year. This includes lodging and meals. Books are not included.

Our Academic Year Program costs $1,600.00 per year. Books are not included.

Apply to the School of Spiritual Direction

Admission to the School of Spiritual Direction does NOT go through the University’s regular application for admission. To learn more information about applying to the School of Spiritual Direction, click the link below.

Important Dates

Our application deadline is April 15 every year.


Summer Intensive Program

July 16-29, 2023

June 16-29, 2024

May 18-31, 2025


Fall 2022 Academic Cohort

Tuesday evenings October-May

Applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis, until we reach capacity. Space is limited so apply soon.

The Art of Spiritual Direction
Summer School of Spiritual Direction Profiles Picture
SSD in Franciscan Magazine