By KATIE BORKOWSKI
In an effort to grow and learn more about their faith, three individuals from the Carroll area participated in a Catholic Spiritual Mentorship Program.
Deacon Dave Prenger, Rose Behrens and Sister Marie Hesed, SOLT, decided to take part in this program, which is a collaboration between the Apostles of the Interior Life and the Holy Family School of Faith Institute in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan.
When Sister Hesed came to Willey to start Domus Trinitatis, she realized there was a need for spiritual direction and guidance.
“Although I have done that all of my religious life, I wanted a certification and to go through formation to serve my people better,” she said.
While in deacon formation, Sister Hesed asked Deacon Prenger if he was interested in going through the mentorship program.
“She felt like we needed to have at least one guy able to do this,” Deacon Prenger. “Usually women tend to go to women and men to men for spiritual guidance. A spiritual mentor is someone who walks with another person in their spiritual journey.”
Behrens, a parishioner at Holy Angels in Roselle, had been doing consulting work with St. Gregory’s Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. She thought it would be helpful to her work to participate in the mentorship program.
“I was wanting to do more with my faith – grow more and learn more,” she said. “It was like a tug at the heart. I just knew I wanted to do something more.”
The class of 95 lay people, deacons, priests and religious sisters were from all over the United States including those from the Diocese of Sioux City. They took part in the third cycle of the two-year program that began in May 2015.
According to the institute’s website, the mentorship program “aims to form spiritual mentors to serve as guide and companion to others on their journey to holiness. It is designed for Catholics who have a desire to develop a deep prayer and sacramental life, to increase their knowledge of the Catholic faith, to grow in virtues and a desire to help others do the same.”
The four one-week sessions of the program were prayer, liturgy and sacraments, virtue and the moral life and discernment and practicum. Every six months the attendees lived, studied and prayed at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan.
“It was so spirit-filled,” said Deacon Prenger. “It was fantastic. Not only did we learn, but we had Mass and adoration every day. We had lots of time for reflection and to grow personally in our relationship with Jesus.”
When the participants were not in Kansas City, they were doing eight distance-learning courses online. The topics included the catechism, prayer, spirituality, the New Testament, virtue, Theology of the Body and salvation history.
“For me personally, it (distance learning) was a struggle because of what I was involved with at this time – building a convent and giving a lot of talks,” said Sister Hesed. “I got in my reading and my studies. It is very feasible and possible to fit into your schedule.”
The program exceeded Behrens’ expectations. She said the Apostles of the Interior Life “are an amazing group of young men and women who are filled with so much joy. It is very contagious.”
“They say it is ‘world-class theology’ and it really is,” she said. “Mike Scherschligt and Troy Hinkle are a big part of the program as well. They made my faith so much more alive.”
Behrens explained there was a lot of focus on the catechism and mental prayer, which was “life-changing.”
“You learn so much from others who are in the program,” said Behrens. “You learn about other’s struggles and how the Lord worked in their lives. You start seeing how the Lord is working in your life. There is a bigger picture. There is a different level of faith that you can attain. It has changed how I look at everything.”
Sister Hesed thought the program was “phenomenal” and beyond what she imagined it would be.
“For me, every time I went in, it was like a retreat,” she said. “It was an experience of prayer, silence, meditation and meaningful conversations among ourselves. We entered as strangers and came out as friends.”
The three graduated with certificates as spiritual mentors on Jan. 15 and are ready to start using what they learned.
Deacon Prenger said spiritual mentors help people “to grow in their prayer life. You would recommend ways for them to grow in virtue and encourage reception of the sacraments. You are also someone who can hold them accountable, which we all need.”
With Christ Renews His Parish in the Carroll area, Deacon Prenger pointed out there are people who are discovering “a personal relationship with Jesus. They are on fire. They want to know how to keep growing in their relationship with Jesus, but they aren’t sure how to do it.”
Behrens is currently mentoring two women and is looking for more, if possible. She is eager to “share what I have learned.”
Sister Hesed hopes to serve people in their spiritual walk as a mentor. She is currently mentoring a few people from a distance, but she prefers face-to-face interaction with her mentees. Sister Hesed is open to being a spiritual mentor for those seeking one.