SDI Program Overview

  • SDI Program Overview

    The Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI) was established by the late Msgr. Chester P. Michael in 1989. This ecumenical 2-year adult formation program explores the wisdom of the spiritual masters throughout the centuries, provides more than 50 tools to enhance personal spiritual growth and development, and trains individuals to support others in their spiritual journeys. Initial sessions were held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Waynesboro, Va. Since that time hundreds of adults have graduated from the SDI/Spiritual Direction Institute, which continues to utilize Msgr. Michael’s curriculum and writings  – and now has sections operating in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Tidewater, and Richmond, Virginia.

    • An inquiry session is held in the spring for persons interested in learning more about the course.
    • An Orientation meeting in June begins the 2-year program.
    • A pre-requisite for acceptance into the program is completion of a personal Spiritual Autobiography. 
    • During the 2 years, there are 16 monthly Saturday meetings (usually the first or second Saturday of the month), 2 weekend retreats each year, in May/June and September, with no meetings in July or August.
    • Saturday meetings include group discussion, lectures, regular meeting with a spiritual direction partner, audio and visual recordings of Msgr. Michael’s past lectures, and student practicums to provide experience in giving and receiving spiritual direction.
    • Students are expected to spend a minimum of 5 hours/week in prayer and 5 hours/week in study. There are both required and recommended books for study in addition to other homework assignments during the course.
    • A total of 22 books are to be read during the 2 years.   Twelve Required books, including 6 of Monsignor Michael’s, are assigned to each student.  Students choose Ten Optional texts from  the recommended SDI Reading List.  There is an extensive lending library, including both required and optional texts, available in each section. Optional books may be chosen from the SDI Lending Library – or from other sources.  Students are encouraged to seek books not present in the SDI Lending Library from either public or church libraries.  Credit may be given for books read and reported that are not on the SDI Reading List only with preapproval of SDI Team Leader. (“Just because someone has the audacity to write a book doesn’t mean it is worth your time reading it”- CPM)
    • Each student should have computer and internet access for communication and other class needs, (or seek access to computer resources at a local library or access point).
    • Standard Costs
      • A $25 non-refundable registration fee is required at the beginning of Year One. 
      • Tuition for the program is $100 per year and is due at the beginning of each year.
      • Retreat fees and needed program materials vary between sections.   
      • Additional fee information per section  will be provided at the Inquiry of each section or posted on the Section Tab on this website

    Further information will be provided at the Inquiry meeting.

     Program Director: Patty Huffman, (540) 908-7722 for details or further questions. OR email Patty at

    Charlottesville section: 

    Al Mirmilstein at or (434) 996-8291
    Bev Mirmilstein at or (434) 996-9178

    Tidewater section:

    Gary Bill at

    Joan Nagy at

    Richmond Section: 

    Scott Fisher at

    Valley section:

    Tom Hook at