John Schwenkler

John and his wife Alice-Marie moved to Decatur from Virginia in 2019. He trained as a spiritual director in a two-year program called Ruah at Richmond Hill, an ecumenical monastery in Richmond, Va. He was a member of the faculty for the following six years, leading retreats on discernment, spiritual growth, and handling shame.

John’s approach to spiritual direction is best summarized in this passage from The Practice of Spiritual Direction by William A. Barry & William J. Connolly (pp. 130-131):

Spiritual Directors will also need a deep faith in the desire and ability of God to communicate with people, not only as a community, but as individuals.  This faith, if it is to be firm enough to sustain them in their work, must spring from their own experience of God.  Such experience-based faith will be the ground for their working assumption that there is no one with whom God does not desire to communicate.   Spiritual Directors have experienced God as communicating with them in all their reality, and this experience grounds their assumption about all other people.

This experience-based conviction leads to a contemplative attitude in directors that is open and eager to discover God’s ways with all kinds of people.  Their own experience of God’s saving love and challenging presence makes them wonderers – wondering how God has communicated with and is communicating with other people.  Aware that their own experience of God is limited, they want to know more about God and expect to learn more by listening to other people’s experience of God.


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