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School of Spiritual Formation


For post on school of spiritual formationRoman Catholic Spiritual Direction was formed in 2009 to disseminate faithful Catholic spirituality and to encourage and help anyone who has questions about our faith by answering those questions. We continue to add new bloggers, formed a book club, hold webinars, and formed the Avila Institute to fulfill this mission. And, we continue to develop new ways to help illumine the path to Heaven that God has prepared for you.

It is with great enthusiasm that we announcement a new endeavor to help all put themselves in front of our Lord and unite themselves intimately with Him, the School of Spiritual Formation.

 “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux) 

Dan Burke, Founder and President of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute and the Avila Foundation, will be teaching the first class in the School of Spiritual Formation. All classes will be offered via the internet so anyone can join us.

During the first course, Navigating the Interior Life – Foundations of Prayer and Union with God, Dan will reveal a panoramic view of the breadth and beauty of Catholic prayer tradition from the inception of prayer to the heights of contemplation. The course will cover:

  • How to know God and His love in prayer
  • How to grow deeper in prayer and relationship with God
  • How to overcome obstacles to growth in prayer
  • How to identify and avoid false teachings on prayer
  • Forms of prayer in the Catholic Tradition
    • Vocal Prayer
    • Meditation (Dan will teach a specific approach in this course)
    • Contemplation (including St. Teresa of Avila’s stages of prayer from the Interior Castle)

Additional Details: 


Duration: 8 weeks
Start Date: Monday, March 31, 2014
End Date: Monday, June 2, 2014
Day/Time: Monday 7:30 – 9:30 PM (Central US)

Grading Scale: Pass/Fail

Required Technology: Computer with reliable internet access and a headset (not optional). We recommend the following headset: Plantronics Audio 478 Stereo USB Headset

Required Reading (portions of texts will be assigned during the course):

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God – Paperback

Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God – Kindle (if preferred over paperback)

Time for God – Fr. Jacques Philippe – Paperback

Time for God – Fr. Jacques Philippe – Kindle (if preferred over paperback)

 Note: All texts are to be purchased prior to the start of class.

Recommended Reading:

The Better Part – Fr. John Bartunek – Paperback

Cost: $250.00 due at Registration

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER HERE NOW or go to and select Application for Admission in the Admission menu.

Important Note: Please select School of Formation from the drop down menu to obtain the proper registration options.

Your spiritual well-being is our mission and we hope you can join the School of Spiritual Formation in our newest effort to progress towards a closer bond with our Lord.

For more information, please contact or visit to begin the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is this course part of the graduate program?

A: No – this is a course designed for those who do not have the time or inclination to engage in the rigor required in the graduate level courses offered at the Avila Institute.

Q: Will this course help me in my future participation in Avila Institute Graduate Studies in Spiritual Theology?

A: Absolutely. This course will help you to gain familiarity with the teaching medium (technology), method (mystagogy), and the terminology used in spiritual theology studies.

QCan anyone take this course?

A: Yes, there are no prerequisites. If you are willing and able to do the work, you are welcome in the course.

Q: Will this course reflect any specific spirituality or movement within the Church?

A: In general, the material will be eclectic within the bounds of magisterium faithful Catholic spirituality. The course will be positively disposed toward Carmelite spirituality (as reflected in the Catechism) but will also include Ignatian and monastic perspectives including some discussion about the teachings from the Orthodox East (hesychasm and the Jesus Prayer).

Q: I am a Protestant/Evangelical (or other tradition) but am interested in Catholic spirituality, can I take the course?

A: Absolutely. Our approach is non-apologetics based in that we don’t defend Catholic teaching but simply assume it is the teaching of Christ. So, if you are comfortable with learning the Catholic tradition rather than arguing the merits of comparable or disparate systems, you are more than welcome to join us. It might comfort you to know that we have a number of students in our graduate program just like you who are very happy with their experience.

Q: How is this course delivered? Where are the classes held?

A: The course will be held Live/Online – You can take this course from your home or wherever you have a computer, a headset, an internet connection and the ability to focus on and interact with the lecture, dialogue, and materials.

Q: What kind of technology do I need to have to take the course?

A: You will need a computer, a reliable internet connection, and a headset.

Q: Is a headset optional? Why?

A: No – because in our experience the quality of built-in equipment is unpredictable and there are often significant challenges with microphones that pick up all surrounding noise rather than just the voice of the student.

Q: Is there a headset you recommend?

A: Yes – Plantronics Audio 478 Stereo USB Headset but any quality USB headset with a built in microphone should work.

Q: What if I am unable to attend one or more of the scheduled classes, can I still take the course?

A: Yes. Recordings of each class will be available the next day for all registered students.

Q: Can I just take the class by watching the recordings alone?

A: Yes, we understand that there are major time differences and issues with our international students. However, we discourage this for students who live within reasonable timezone variances because it limits our ability to serve you and it limits your participation in the mystagogical approach to experiencing God in and through the powerful dialogue and interchange th other students.

Q: Is there work outside of the classroom?

A: Yes. It should be assumed that each class will require about one hour of reading and preparation. There will also be short pass/fail quizzes that help students ensure their comprehension of the materials. There will be a final essay that will be a short reflection on the student’s participation in the course and how it has helped them better understand prayer and how to grow in relationship with God.

Q: Are there scholarships available?

A: Yes. Because of the generosity of our donors, the Avila Institute offers scholarships (as funds are available) to 1) those who have taken a vow of poverty, and 2) those who are financially challenged but faithful to the magisterium and mission of the Catholic Church. Partial and Full Scholarships are available. For more information send an email to

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  • Caroline Mills Lawry

    Can you take this online course with a satellite internet connection? I know many online courses will not work with satellite.

    • Dear Caroline ­ I would be happy to test the technology to confirm that it works. Where are you located?

      • Caroline Mills Lawry

        25 miles south of Columbia SC. My satellite internet connection is through Dish.

        • Ok ­ let me know when you would like me to send you a go-to-meeting request and then I can quickly share my screen and test it out for you.

          • Caroline Mills Lawry

            I am ready now if convenient for you.

          • Ok you will receive an invitation to your email address in a few minutes.

  • Caroline Mills Lawry

    I’m so excited about this online course, Marta. Because I have an unusual internet situation though, I’m not sure if I can take it. Dan Burke is helping me determine if it is possible. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  • LSLinda

    Thank you for making this possible. Although it is not possible for me to participate at this time, I will follow future developments for potential enrollment.

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