Spiritual Direction Institute

SDIlogoTM SDI:  An Adult formation program in which the wisdom of spiritual masters throughout the centuries is explored in the context of the two year institute. SDI/Spiritual Direction Institute was established by Fr. Chester P. Michael in 1989.  Initial sessions were held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Waynesboro, VA.  Since that time, more than 500 adults have graduated from the program which has been held in several different areas of the diocese utilizing Fr. Michael’s curriculum.

An Inquiry session is held in the spring for persons who want to know more and are expressing interest in enrolling in the program. Upon completion of the registration form and payment of the registration fee, students are given the initial assignment.

The pre-requisite for acceptance into the program is completion of a personal Spiritual autobiography prior to the June Orientation session. Details about that paper are provided during the Inquiry session or via interview with the program director.
Patty Huffman, palhuffman@yahoo.com  (540) 908-7722

  • The course begins with an information/orientation session – normally held in June -and the distribution of two of the basics texts of the program: Arise and Prayer and Temperament (both authored by Fr. Michael).
  • There are two weekend retreats each year.
  • There are 10 Day long sessions (usually the 1st Saturday of the month) each year (October-June)
  • July-August is free of programming, but homework is assigned during those summer months.
  • Students are supplied with all needed materials for each retreat weekend.
  • The day sessions cover 50+ different tools for spiritual growth.
  • Each student meets with a spiritual direction partner in each session of the program. Additionally, each student has the opportunity to form a learning group and participate in a practicum of spiritual direction practices (“The Fishbowl”) to further implement learning with actual experience.
  • Students are expected to spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in prayer and study as well as read the required and recommended books, and complete other homework assignments given during the course of the year.
  • Each student provides their own Bible for use in the course.
  • Each student volunteers for some aspect of the community component of the SDI, providing snacks, musical accompaniment, table and chair arrangements, and general housekeeping tasks.
  • Each year, students have a spiritual direction/prayer partner for the year chosen from within the group.
  • 12 books are provided to students during the course.
  • The remainder of books needed can be obtained using the SDI library OR are available as free downloads for Kindles.
  • Each student should have computer access for communication and other class needs.
  • The cost of the program is currently $100 per year tuition & $25 registration fee. Each student pays their own retreat fee directly to the retreat center utilized. Texts are provided. The lending library is also provided. Retreat workshop materials are also provided. Students take turns providing snacks for the sessions.

Further questions will be answered at the Inquiry session or via personal interview at a different time.

Contact Information

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

Charlottesville section: 

Al Mirmilstein at alvinmirmelstein@gmail.com or (434) 996-8291
Bev Mirmilstein at bevmirm@gmail.com or (434) 996-9178

Tidewater section:

Ron Clarke at ronclarke@cox.net

Richmond Section: 

Scott Fisher at scottfishradio@gmail.com

Valley section:

Tom Hook at tomhook580@gmail.com



Spiritual Directors

For those seeking spiritual direction, this list of SDI graduates may be contacted directly.

People who have graduated from SDI are invited to have their names placed on this page. The intent is to provide those visiting this site seeking spiritual direction with a list of persons to choose from who are available to walk with them on their spiritual journey.

If you are an SDI graduate and would like to have your name placed on this list, please contact Patt Huffman at palhuffman@yahoo.com


Spiritual Direction Institute Class Details


Teaching Leaders for the 2013-15 session are Al and Bev Mirmelstein for the Charlottesville section.