The Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI) was established in Virginia by the late Monsignor Chester Michael, or “Father Chet,” in 1989. This two-year ecumenical adult formation program explores the wisdom of the spiritual masters throughout the centuries to train individuals in supporting others on their spiritual journeys.

We live in a time when most of us can talk easily about sex, somewhat less comfortably about death, and only with the greatest difficulty about our relationship with God.

~ Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction

The first year of SDI is focused primarily on love of God and a healthy love of self. In the second year, there is an increased emphasis on love of neighbor and humanity. We are reminded, as Father Chet would quote St. Augustine, that all of “our hearts are made for God and won’t rest until they rest in God.”

An Overview

  • 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.
  • The reading of 22 books, including 6 by Father Chet, and the writing of brief reflections on each of those books.
    • A book list with recommendations, as well as an extensive lending library, are 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.

For further information, including to learn when a new class is forming in your area, contact one of the area leaders:

Charlottesville Valley

Al Mirmelstein – alvinmirmelstein@gmail.comSDIlogoTM
Bev Mirmelstein –
Tom Hook –


Scott Fisher –

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