ROME – “Most of us priests and religious don`t receive nor give spiritual direction,“ laments psycho-spiritual counselor Dr Joe Mannath director of Don Bosco Renewal Centre Bangalore. He was sharing his experience at an international institute of on-going formation for clergy and religious which trains some 400 persons each year.
Dr Mannath was part of a six member International delegation studying The Experiences in Spiritual Direction of Young People.
Other presenters included Prof Jack Finnegan SDB from National University of Ireland, General Councilor for Youth Ministry Fr Fabio Attard SDB and Fr Juan Crespo SDB in charge of formation in Youth Ministry, Spain; Sr Rosanna SanBiaggio FMA of Subiaco Italy as well as seminar coordinator Prof Jesus Manuel Garcia from the Salesian University Rome (UPS).
Another member of the consultation Dr Jose Parapully SDB, director of Sumedha Sadhana Centre for Psychology and Spirituality, Jeolikote, Uttarakhand could not participate due to problems obtaining Italian Visa.
The UPS Institute of the Theology of Spirituality and The Salesian Youth Ministry (SYM) department organized the half day seminar, 7 May. This was the conclusion of the first phase of a four day consultation organized by SYM Pisana, Rome. The other two phases are: a) looking for theories of human sciences in spiritual direction and 2) searching for a new model for spiritual direction of the young.
Counseling & Spiritual Direction
“Most of what we call spiritual direction is just counseling… Theoretical expertise is not what counts in spiritual direction,“ insists Dr Mannath a popular speaker, writer and columnist in leading Catholic publications.
“These days there are more lay people and religious sisters receiving and giving spiritual direction than priests,“ says Dr Mannath who shuttles between metro cities in India and the U.S.
Dr Mannath did Ph.D. from Rome, research in psychology and religion (Oxford University), post-doctoral studies (psychology and spirituality) at Weston, Harvard University and Boston College. He is Doctoral guide at Madras University and Visiting professor in Chicago and listed in the Marquis Who`s Who in the World.
To his credit is 20 years of formation work, twelve years of university teaching, seminars for various groups, teaching and parish ministry in different countries, counseling and spiritual direction.
Former President of the Association of Christian Philosophers of India and of Salesian Psychological Association, India Dr Mannath also occupied the Chair of Christianity in the Madras University. He is an adjunct professor at the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. He was a professor of Philosophy at UPS Rome late 1970s and has lectured at the University of Valencia (Spain), Fordham University (New York), Assumption College, Mino, Osaka (Japan), and at other centers around the world. He is also Member of Mensa International, Indian Theological Association,
His bestseller You Surprised Me has been published in six international languages besides English which went into six editions. His latest best seller book is entitled I Wish I Knew.