FIND A DIRECTOR

FRANCISCAN RENEWAL CENTER

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Ruth M. Baker, MA 

My ministry emphasizes prayer to a loving God of the seeker’s belief. Contemplative prayer and “centering prayer” are at the core of my ministry. I help people deal with transitioning into the second half of life as well as discernment questions around God’s “will” and direction in life. This requires an intimate, felt sense of God’s presence and goodwill towards all of us in this world that has become so uncertain and fearful. I facilitate the Ignatian  Exercises with individuals and groups. I am intimately involved with 12 Step Spirituality for all addictions. Guided meditation and compassionate listening are an integral part of the process. I am available during the weekdays. I will also meet via phone, Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime at the client’s convenience. I will also design and facilitate a Private Directed  Retreat.

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Mary Bencomo, MA

Mary spent fifteen years in deep prayer and study in the spiritual life during her youth. In addition, she has about thirty years of experience as an educator, psychotherapist, and consultant, all of which included about 20 years of Enneagram work in the narrative tradition. Over the last five years, she has participated in a twice-monthly spiritual development group studying and practicing Christian esoteric spirituality. Mary draws on these areas in her work with individuals as they explore deeper levels on the spiritual plane. At this time her focus is on the areas of contemplative prayer, elder spirituality, and Enneagram. Further interests lie in mystical spirituality, the practice of presence, and women’s spirituality. She is Roman Catholic and AEISD certified. Available weekdays: morning and afternoon; in person, by phone or face time. All religious dispositions are welcome.

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Audrey Bennett, BA, MPS

Audrey is an Episcopal laywoman with spiritual direction certification through Arizona Institute of Spiritual Direction, 2008. She works with the Veterans’ Ministry at the Franciscan Renewal Center. She focuses on Ignatian Spirituality, Inner Healing, and Lay Ministry Discernment. Audrey is available from November through April.

 

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Laurie Devine, MA

Laurie is a novelist and board-certified chaplain with a love of social justice. As a spiritual director, her focus is on (1) helping private retreatants at the Casa focus and discern, (2) exploring creativity, spirituality, and new beginnings, and (3) companioning caregivers and those seeking healing at end-of-life or those struggling with grief. She believes we all need lots more spiritual joy and loves to work on that with those she walks with. Laurie is a practicing Catholic and ardent member of the Casa community. She worked for a decade as a hospice and hospital chaplain, has published five novels in New York and London, and lived in Europe and the Middle East for twenty years. She has edited a peace and justice advocacy publication for the Diocese of Phoenix. Laurie holds an M.A. degree in theology from the University of San Francisco, graduated from the Art of Spiritual Direction Program at Kino Institute here in Phoenix and did the Ignatian Exercises at El Retiro in CA. Laurie is available weekdays, and weekends by Skype and phone.

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Fr. Bill Faiella, CSC

Fr. Bill is a Roman Catholic priest of the Holy Cross Order. He has advanced degrees in education, theology, and pastoral counseling. Fr. Bill focuses on inner healing and general spirituality. Fr. Bill is available weekdays, evenings, and weekends for meetings at his central Phoenix office.

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Ron Friesen

For over 40 years I have accompanied individuals on their spiritual journeys as a pastor, a chaplain for the ill, the dying, the grieving and those experiencing homelessness. In the last 20 years I have also been a mental health counselor. In my desire to deepen my skills in spiritual companionship I completed the Spiritual Direction program at Christian Formation and Direction Ministries – Arizona, It is my desire to journey to explore the God within each of us, regardless of faith tradition. This belief has drawn me to spiritual companioning with those experiencing losses of any kind as well as those seeking discernment for the next steps in their lives while exploring wherever the Divine may appear bringing healing to their soul and finding purpose. 

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Milly Johnson, MA

Seeking a new way forward this year?  Let’s meet: no preparation needed... Just a time for sharing your story and your desires for the days ahead... Spiritual Guidance is a listening time... I’ll be at your side ~ listening along the way. Milly Johnson completed spiritual guidance formation at The London Centre for Spirituality and holds a MA in Christian Spirituality from the University of   London. She has met with individuals for many years. She supports each person’s journey - whatever life holds. She listens and stands with you in times of seeking and transition. Milly has an ongoing interest in spirituality and art - civic and cultural affairs; always open to embracing more within our everyday lived experience. She studies early Christian writers - especially Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich. She will happily journey with you through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. She has trained others in this way of ongoing support and discernment as well. Milly also offers guidance sessions with individuals each month online via FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.

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Bonnie McCulley,  MA

Bonnie is a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC), Licensed Spiritual Counselor (LPC), and Certified Spiritual Director (AEISD). She brings 30 years of experience from her ministry in healthcare and hospice. Bonnie has helped many through major life transitions, i.e. illness, trauma, and the emotional and spiritual distress experienced in loss and grief. As a Spiritual Director, Bonnie provides a strong listening presence and a safe, open space to share your sacred story. You can explore your deepest questions, grow in your ability to discern, and open the door to your heart and true self in God. In her DMin studies in Transformational Counseling/Spiritual Direction, she focused on the “Art of Discernment” through Ashland Theological Seminary. She is a practicing Roman Catholic with studies in Ignatian, Franciscan, and Carmelite Spiritualities along with mystics and other global spiritualities/faith traditions. Bonnie is available via Zoom and in person at the CASA - weekdays, Saturdays, and a few early evenings.    

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Gene Meiergerd, MS, RN, CSD

Recently retired, after careers as a registered nurse, an Air Force officer, a massage therapist, and a counselor working with patients in a variety of settings facing physical, mental, and emotional challenges, I was drawn toward looking at the spiritual aspects of healing. This led me to acquiring a counseling degree and certification as a Spiritual Director through Christian Formation and Direction Ministries. Throughout my life’s journey, I have remained drawn to the embrace of the Divine in the beauty and healing of nature. More than ever I now find God in each of us, regardless of our faith tradition. This belief has drawn me to spiritual companioning with special interest in helping veterans, and anyone wrestling with grief to help them peer into the subtle nuances of daily life, awaken the Divine within, heal their soul, and find purpose. Available Mondays, Fridays, any Saturday except 2nd Saturday of each month, or as needed by request.

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Patricia (Pat) Mullen, MA

I received Spiritual Direction certification through Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA, in 1996. I welcome women and men of all faiths who seek to discover and/or explore specific aspects of their spirituality. I am particularly experienced in, and available for, those in professional church ministry as well as for discernment, grief, and forgiveness. As a retreat facilitator in Africa, Asia, and Australia for 11 years, I have a passion for journeying with others in exploring a global spirituality. I have years of experience in group spiritual direction and I am willing to explore the formation of such groups if requested to do so. Available weekdays, weekends, and some evenings.

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Cathy Olds, MA

I have been a spiritual director since 2005 and have a love for the "Celtic Spirit" which celebrates God in the rhythms and blessings of nature, in community and sacred places. I believe it is a privilege and blessing to companion others on the spiritual journey. Spiritual direction is a gift that allows us to name the constant presence of God in our lives and I am continually humbled by the way grace leads us and holds us. I have worked as a lay minister in the Catholic Church for over 40 years, received a Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Dayton, and a certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Arizona Ecumenical Institute for Spiritual Directors. I coordinate the Spiritual Direction Ministry at the Franciscan Renewal Center. Cathy is available by appointment.

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Mauro Pando, MC

Mauro’s training and faith journey have taken him on a path of interfaith spirituality. He is more comfortable with the term “companioning” than direction, and he co-facilitates the Grief and Loss Retreat. He is a Roman Catholic and is involved in the Faith in Action Ministry at the Casa. Available weekday mornings at the Casa.

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Rene Perreault, Jr. SFO

Rene is a certified spiritual director and a member of Spiritual Directors International, ministering for 17 years. He received his education in Spiritual Direction in the graduate school of theology at Sacred Heart University, and is retired from Rhode Island College, member of their professional staff for 35 years. Roman Catholic by choice as a Spiritual Director is nondenominational. He practices this Ministry of Presence with men and women of all different backgrounds, some in recovery, members of Religious communities, clergy and folks who identify as LGBT.  Rene developed Spiritual Direction for folks living with AIDS while at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I.  Before moving to AZ seven years ago he ministered with the Franciscans in Boston in the Spiritual Direction Center and with the men in formation for the local Franciscan Provence. Rene is available any day of the week or evening as needed and will meet via Zoom or at the FRC or where it is most convenient for the person.

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Sharon Taszarek, BS

Sharon worked in the Programs Ministry at the Franciscan Renewal Center for 14 years which offered her the opportunity for ongoing spiritual growth, opening her mind and heart to the love and presence of God in all things. She has facilitated classes in Centering Prayer, Spiritual Friendship, and Spiritual Spa Weekends at the Casa. Sharon is a graduate of St. Louis University and the Arizona Ecumenical Institute for Spiritual Direction. Her focus in spiritual direction tends toward listening, contemplative living, Franciscan spirituality, discernment, and 12 step spirituality. 

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Cheryl Thomsen, MA

When I met my first Spiritual Director in 1990, my life was painful and broken. I knew I needed someone to guide my soul through grief and several major life transitions I was experiencing. This was a spiritual crisis - not a psychological crisis. As my companion, she gently guided me into a deeper relationship with God and allowed me to see God’s hand in all of life. Later my journey led me to a MA in Theology in 2006 from the University of San Francisco. Further discernment led me to be certified in 2008 by the AEISD program in Spiritual Direction. I then began my practice at the Franciscan Renewal Center. My focus now is to help others to listen to their soul, throughout personal and professional life transitions, including times of grief, loss, or the search for purpose. Other areas for spiritual growth include exploring how to live a contemplative life, the integration of East-West Spirituality, Franciscan Spirituality, and 12 steps. How can I help you discover and embrace God’s weaving in your life? I am Roman Catholic and available weekdays, evenings, and weekends.

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Ria Tokkie

Ria is Roman Catholic and received her Certification as a Spiritual Director through Christian Formation and Direction Ministries. In addition, she is a certified hospice volunteer who is passionate about creating a sacred space for families and their loved ones experiencing life-limiting illnesses and grief. Her interests, however, are not limited to this work. Ria’s training has prepared her to walk with people of different faiths and concerns, as they seek answers and direction for their lives. Ria’s goal is to listen to the needs of your searching heart. Her desire is to help you to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading you; to listen to His Voice; and to recognize God’s Love in life’s challenges, difficulties, and blessings, so that you can find inner peace and claim the truth of your belovedness. Ria is available mornings, weekends, in person, via phone, and via FaceTime.

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Elizabeth Ursic, M Div

Dr. Elizabeth Ursic holds a Masters of Divinity from Yale University, and a PhD in Religious Studies from ASU. She has been a member of Spiritual Directors International for over 20 years. She leads national and regional retreats on spiritual faith development. Her book, Women, Ritual, and Power: Placing Female Imagery of God in Christian Worship, has been used in retreat settings and seminary classrooms. Locally, Elizabeth is a professor of world religions and is committed to interfaith work. She is also a pianist, cellist, and composer. She teaches classes and leads retreats on contemplation, world religions, spirituality, imagination, and the arts. “Being a spiritual director is one of my greatest joys. I love to companion those who are exploring, wrestling, and deepening in their relationship with God. I seek to create a safe space where everything can be shared with love and without judgment. I am in awe of how God works in our lives. It is a privilege to serve as a soul friend with those on their spiritual journey.” Availability is afternoons and evenings during weekdays, via phone, Zoom, or Skype.

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Virginia Vollmer, OFS

A resident of the West Valley since childhood and a Roman Catholic, Virginia has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Northern Arizona University. She is employed in the accounting industry and was certified through Arizona Ecumenical Institute for Spiritual Directors. Virginia is a professed Secular  Franciscan and focuses her spiritual direction on life transitions within general, interfaith, and Franciscan spirituality asking how we live in this moment with God. Virginia is available weekends in person and via phone, and she is available for weekend private retreats.

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Carole Whittaker, PhD

Following careers in science education and agribusiness, Carole currently expresses her passion for supporting the personal development and wholeness of others by leading retreats, teaching Christian spirituality, leading workshops in personal growth and spiritual freedom, and providing spiritual companionship to individuals. Carole’s focus or perspective in spiritual direction tends toward Franciscan Spirituality, contemplative living, and Enneagram work toward personal integration and spiritual development. Her formation in spiritual direction was through the Hesychia School and the Arizona Ecumenical Institute for Spiritual Direction. She is a Roman Catholic and is available on weekdays for meetings in person at the Franciscan Renewal Center, on Skype or Zoom, or by telephone.