The 30-year-old Archdiocesan Spirituality Center may have moved to larger quarters in Metairie on the campus of the former St. Lawrence the Martyr parish (off Roosevelt Boulevard behind Home Depot), but its mission is unchanged.
“What’s remained consistent from the foundation of the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center is the spiritual enrichment of the people of the archdiocese,” Dominican Sister of Peace Dorothy Trosclair, director, said. “Our main role is to train spiritual directors for their two-year program and to offer spiritual direction and enrichment.”
Sister Dorothy said the center offers a “solid program of training and forming spiritual directors according to the guidelines of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and sponsoring programs that would continue the spiritual growth of individuals in the archdiocese.”
Move went quickly
The center found out it was to move to a new site in December when renovations at Notre Dame Seminary were announced. The staff has embraced the move.
“We were told the renovations would take two years,” Sister Dorothy said. “We know this is temporary but we decided we were going to do this and do it right for the common good.”
The move took place on Feb. 7, without interrupting any scheduled programs.
“We moved in on a Tuesday, and our first session (a peer supervision meeting) was on a Wednesday,” she said. “All we had set up were two tables, a cloth and a candle. We had coffee brewing on Wednesday. We decided this was our home, and we were going to make it our home.”
With the assistance of the archdiocese’s property and building management office, the former school building has been transformed into a comfortable and tranquil setting for spiritual direction.
Sister Dorothy said she and her full-time staff of Teresian Sister Gloria Murillo and Doris Melito selected calming wall colors and carpet for the individual and group spiritual direction rooms, larger meeting and retreat room and donned them with saints’ names – St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Theresa of Avila and the Ignatian Conference Room.
“It’s all the same furniture, so when people come in they say this is like where we were,” she said. “People say when they come in, it feels so comfortable.”
When Sister Dorothy came on board as director in September 2010 – taking over from Dominican Sister of Peace Noel Toomey who was founding director in 1982 – the transition was easy because the ministry was a well-oiled machine. She and the staff have worked this year to reach out beyond the steady flow of people coming to the center by bringing the center’s programs to parishes in an outreach program called “ASC Goes to the Parish.” More than 13 parishes took advantage of a presentation called “Finding God in Your Everyday Life Experiences.”
“The parishes that we are in responded well to the presentations and are looking for more,” she said.
What is spiritual direction?
Much misconception exists about what spiritual direction is, Sister Dorothy said.
“When we talk about spiritual direction, we talk about what it is not,” she said. “It’s not about catechesis (teaching about the faith). It’s not counseling, because the focus there is between the counselor and the counseled, and it’s usually around a problem to be solved. In spiritual direction, you are working on a relationship with God and a growth in that relationship. The director is there to listen to what’s happening and to guide that person in that relationship. Everybody comes in with problems, but when the issues become problem solving we refer them to a counselor.”
Young adult Kara Klein has been working on spiritual direction with Sister Murillo for the past few months.
“It’s given me a lot of direction for my life and helps me listen to God’s voice to discern God’s will for my life,” Klein said. “It also has given me a lot of peace and clarity.”
Spiritual direction is offered at the new office weekdays, but the center conducts many programs at night and on weekends at various sites. Sister Dorothy hopes to “continue to build on the firm foundation set by Sister Noel and her staff and to provide programs that will enrich the spirituality of priests, sisters and laity. We hope to continue to have a strong program of education for spiritual directors and continue to offer spiritual direction to people in the archdiocese so their relationship with God will continue to grow and develop.”
The next program offered by the center is the Stations of Easter April 9. The Archdiocesan Spirituality Center can be reached at 861-3254.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org