The Spiritual Direction Institute: Embrace Faith, Understanding and Training

The Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI) was established in Virginia by the late Monsignor Chester Michael, or “Father Chet,” in 1989, as a two-year ecumenical adult formation program. Classes, run by volunteers, continue to be offered in the Charlottesville and Richmond areas.

Spiritual Direction Institute logo

The first year of SDI explores our purpose and spirituality while deepening a love of God and developing a healthy love of self. In the second year, there is an increased emphasis on love of neighbor and humanity. We are reminded, as St. Augustine says, that all of “our hearts are made for God and won’t rest until they rest in God.”

What the Spiritual Direction Institute Involves

  • A total of 16 once-a-month Saturday meetings and 4 weekend retreats
    • The meetings include group discussion, lectures, connecting with a spiritual partner, prayer, and student practicums to provide experience in giving and receiving spiritual direction
    • No meetings in July and August
  • Reading of books to supplement topics being covered
    • Brief reflections help you to apply the content to your own experiences
    • An extensive lending library is provided
  • Affordable fees for annual tuition to cover course costs plus lodging expenses for each of the four retreats. A $25 non-refundable registration fee is required

New classes are now forming!

Charlottesville Valley

Inquiry Session will be held Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m. – Noon, at the Church of the Incarnation, Charlottesville, VA.

Please contact Tom Hook ( to let us know you will be joining us and for any questions regarding this location.

Richmond central Virginia

Inquiry Session will be held Sunday, April 21, 2 – 4 p.m., at The Hope Center, 827 Commerce Street, Petersburg, VA.

Please contact Scott Fisher ( to let us know you will be joining us and for any questions regarding this location.

Father Chet suggested in his 50 Tools for Spiritual Direction that in addition to devoting one hour a day in prayer and study, a person should also spend one day a month and one week a year in directed retreat.

A Day Away

Held two times a year, A Day Away Retreat gathers to explore different topics. There is time for instruction and interaction, as well as time for meditation, quiet, journaling and walking.

Participants bring their own lunch, drink / mug, a Bible, writing material, and comfortable walking shoes.

To receive notifications of retreat offerings, join our email list.

The logo depicts the four retreat weekends that frame the two-year SDI course:

  1. Prayer and Temperament and the MBTI Retreat
  2. The Enneagram Retreat
  3. The Intensive Journal Retreat
  4. The Directed Retreat and Graduation
  • The segments and open spaces represent the 50 Tools for Spiritual Direction
  • The center portrays Father Chet’s use of these modern tools through the lens of the most ancient symbols of our faith: Chi-Rho – Christ Risen.
  • Christ Crucified is represented by the placement of the nails of the cross at the intervals between the words Spiritual Direction Institute
  • Alpha and Omega: Jesus – the beginning and the end
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