Training Workshop-Retreat for Spiritual Directors in the Alphonsian Tradition


(Canandaigua, USA) – As part of the second year of his three-year $200,000 grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Fr. Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R. recently led a week-long training workshop-retreat for eight people using the model of spiritual direction he developed based on Alphonsus’s approach to mental prayer. The workshop-retreat took place at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, NY from June 2-9, 2019.

Participating in the workshop were three Redemptorist priests (Frs. Matthew Allman, Tom McCluskey, and Anthony Michalik), one diocesan priest (Fr. Frank Giuffre, STD), one religious sister (Sr. Laura Downing, IHM), one Catholic laywoman from a Redemptorist parish (Mary Vitti), and two non-denominational Christians (Carl and Laurie Dinner). The workshop-retreat unfolded according to a fourfold movement of maintaining a retreat-like atmosphere, beginning each day with a period of Alphonsian mental prayer, meditating on and processing the videos Fr. Billy produced during the first year of his grant, and practicing the model during an evening learning practicum.

The workshop-retreat was very well received and ended with a discussion about some practical ways in which the model could be diffused throughout the Redemptorist world. The week-long event was assessed by Dr. Bryan Froehle, former director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and currently the Director of the Ph.D. Program in Practical Theology and Professor of Practical Theology at St. Thomas University’s School of Theology and Ministry in Miami, FL. The week ended with a very enjoyable boat ride on Canandaigua Lake and a festive meal. Fr. Billy’s grant will end next summer when three of the directors he trained will conduct a silent directed retreat using the Alphonsian model of direction he has developed.

Father Dennis J. Billy CSsR