Spiritual Direction

Accompaniment on the journey of Christian Faith in Clifton Diocese

Spiritual Direction:


“In our world, ordained ministers and other pastoral workers can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze. The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5).
The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life. Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom.“

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169-170

What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is a confidential and prayerful relationship of trust between two people, in which one listens to the other, enabled by the Holy Spirit, in discerning, supporting, affirming and offering guidance and resources in the lifelong journey of spiritual growth and maturity. The material for spiritual direction is not only to do with prayer but with the whole of your life experience.

“With a spiritual director, I talk about what is happening in my heart where the Spirit is moving, if I feel desolation or consolation, if I am tired, why I am sad: these are the things to talk about with the man or woman who is my spiritual director.”    Pope Francis, audience with religious, 16 May 2015

Why might you desire Spiritual Direction?

People come to spiritual direction for a variety of reasons, discovering how helpful it can be to share their faith journey with someone who has experienced the ups and downs, the struggles, the challenges – and the joys – of life and faith.

You may be looking for,

›› a safe, secure and confidential relationship in which to explore God’s work in your life and questions about the journey of Christian faith;
›› encouragement and affirmation without someone deciding for you – ‘direction’ is more accompaniment than directive;
›› the discipline of self-examination and being accountable to one other;
›› guidance in exploring fresh approaches to prayer;
›› companionship on the journey, both in the ‘every day‘ and during periods of discernment, change or challenge.

Your spiritual direction will start wherever you are in your journey and can help you integrate your spiritual life with all of life. People seeking accompaniment come from very different backgrounds and experience and have very different needs; our experienced directors will always respond to these flexibly and sensitively. Spiritual direction is open to anyone who seriously wishes to deepen their spiritual life and to grow as an authentically human person before God.

Who are Spiritual Directors?

Spiritual direction is not new; it has been a feature of Christian growth since desert monasticism of the fourth century onwards when people were drawn to seek spiritual guidance through the listening of another.

Directors on our network are listening men and women, lay, ordained and religious from a variety of Christian denominations and backgrounds who are aware of the riches of spiritual wisdom in scripture and in our Christian heritage.

They are committed to their own growth in responding to the invitation of God to know and love them. They have undergone recognised discernment processes and training and are committed to ongoing development and nurturing in their ministry.

Finding out more about Spiritual Direction

Taking the next step

Reflect prayerfully on what your preferences may be when looking for a spiritual director, so we may better be able to help you, such as,

›› male or female
›› lay, ordained or religious
›› close to home or further afield
›› denomination
›› spiritual tradition
›› any particular areas of interest or concern.

Clifton Diocese Panel of Spiritual Directors:


Sarah Chabowska

Sarah has trained as a spiritual director and supervisor and enjoys holding a safe listening space for those who wish to explore their spiritual journey with some creative, caring support. Sarah says, “I care a great deal about people It is important for me to create a safe place for them, to be held in love and compassion, where they can be themselves and share their journey.” sarahchabowska@gmail.com

Jane Critten

Jane offers you a space to explore your spiritual life – or even your desire for a spiritual life – in a secure, non-judgemental environment.  Accompanying you on your spiritual journey, Jane listens for the movement of the Holy Spirit who is already active in your life, so that you may respond evermore fully to God’s daily call, wherever life finds you. Jane offers spiritual direction in south Bristol and central Bath.

Libby Dobson

Libby has trained as a spiritual director and enjoys offering an accompanying presence to those who are looking for individual support on their spiritual journey. Libby says “I love to hold a safe place for people to come and relax, and discover God’s love, in whatever way is meaningful for them.” She has a particular leaning towards Contemplative and Celtic Spirituality. libbydobson13@gmail.com

Gail Ebsworth

In amongst this busy world it isn’t always easy to see, hear and follow. I first heard His voice at 16; never confident in the faith but open to continuing the journey. In 2017 my journey widened and I completed the Spiritual Director course, and scales dropped from my eyes that God speaks to us all the time, through everything around us. As I journey with my directee the awesomeness of God’s love becomes more evident. Every person’s journey is different and sometimes it helps to have someone along for your journey I hope I can be privileged to help highlight God in peoples life.  I am Gail and willing to share my time and space with God and fellow Christians seeking God today, it sometimes helps having another hear that small voice. gail.ebsworth08@gmail.com

Jenny Heseltine

I am an active member of my parish community. I am a mother & grandmother. I enjoy walking, reading and sewing. I am interested in people and enjoy listening to their stories. I hunger for more of God. I am a Sacristan EMHC Catechist & Liturgist. I enjoy helping people. jenny.heseltine@gmail.com

Alison MacTier

Alison is a trained spiritual director and is also a retreat and quiet day leader. She believes passionately in the value of spiritual direction and retreat and is Director of the Retreat Association. She is particularly drawn to Ignatian and Contemplative spirituality and the inspiration that poetry, art, music and the created world brings to the journey of faith. “Knowing that we are unconditionally loved and accepted is at the heart of the gospel message and I hope to offer the space and the gentle accompanying that will enable the possibility of becoming the person that we are each born to be.

Contact : alison.mactier@virgin.net

Cath McCarthy

God is the true Director at work in our lives. As a spiritual director I simply serve as the channel through which God works to uncover and discover the Divine at work in your everyday experiences. The content of a direction session can simply be your life: whatever aspect, story, or experience you feel moved to bring to the session. With God we meet in holy conversation so “you may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) 
I travel with you on your faith journey starting from where you are. I hope I will be able to help you to hear God speaking, to notice where God is supporting you and to discern where God might be challenging or reassuring you God is always with us, in the midst of our lives. My style of spiritual direction can help you to put your own anxieties and concerns into perspective and to be more open to the part that God is playing in your life. cathmccarthy54@gmail.com

Gaynor Reynolds

I trained with the Clifton Diocese and have a background in person-centred counselling.  My spirituality is best expressed as a journey into a deep and profound love of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  This journey has been enriched by the Ignatian 30 days Spiritual Exercises and charism of St Francis of Assisi and the Carmelite saints, St Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.   I offer a welcoming space for anyone seeking to explore their spirituality and deepen their relationship with God. gaynor.reynolds19@gmail.com

Barbara Strong

Ignatian director working with the Spiritual Exercises – London Ignatian Spirituality course.Psychosynthesis Counselling Diploma, Fine Art degree, Special Needs teacher, retired artist, Advanced Diploma of Spirituality – supervision (the role of imagery in spiritual direction and supervision). strongbarbara@gmail.com

Brendan Vaughan-Spruce

I was ordained as a Permanent Deacon in Clifton Cathedral in July 2008. In 1984 I married Sally and we have three daughters and a son, all adults. In 2018 I became an Oblate of Prinknash Abbey. My training for Spiritual Direction was a Diocesan course which ran for two years, which I completed in 2019. My role in Spiritual Direction is to accompany you on your journey with God and to help you to notice where God is in your life. For me this mainly involves listening – to you and to the Holy Spirit. I will listen to you in a non-judgmental way to whatever you would like to talk about, so that by sharing your story you may grow, by God’s grace, into a deeper awareness of God’s presence and God’s love for you. brendan.vaughan-spruce@cliftondiocese.com

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