Spiritual Direction through the Spiritual Life Center

Speaking on September 16, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that everyone—priests, religious, lay people—and especially youth, should have a spiritual director to help them in the Christian life.  The occasion of this reminder was within a reflection of Symeon the New Theologian of the 11th century.  Pope Benedict mentioned how important spiritual direction was in the life of the 11th century monk, and affirmed that the invitation to seek guidance in the spiritual life “continues to be valid for all.”

Taking recourse to the counsels of a good spiritual guide is an important task of our Catholic Spiritual Life Retreat Center. In cooperation with talented individuals from throughout the Diocese, the Spiritual Life Retreat Center provides a number of spiritual directors.

What is Spiritual Direction? Spiritual direction in the Catholic tradition is a “guide, dialogue, to go to the Lord.” Pope Benedict says, “We cannot do it with our reflections alone.  And this is also the meaning of the ecclesiality of our faith, of finding this guide.”

This dialogue allows us to become aware of the many ways God reaches out to us in our daily lives.

Why seek direction?

  • You are experiencing a new sense of God in your life and question where that is leading.
  • You are experiencing a distance from God, the Church, or your faith.
  • You are facing an important decision or transition in your life.
  • You simply need a companion as you continue to live your baptismal call in your vocation.

What Spiritual Direction is not: It is not emotional counseling or psychotherapy.  It is not marriage counseling, nor is it a self help course.  All of these have their proper place, but they are not Spiritual Direction.

So you are interested. What do you do now? Contact the Spiritual Life Center at 316-744-0167 or the directors listed at the numbers below for more information. The location where the spiritual director and directee meet is determined by participants.  Some meet at the Spiritual Life Retreat Center and others at a parish or religious community.

Spiritual Directors around the Diocese

Rev. Kenneth S. VanHaverbeke

Fr. Ken is diocesan priest of the Diocese of Wichita, ordained in 1991.  Graduating with a degree in Biology from Kansas State University he attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  As pastor of various parishes in the Diocese of Wichita, he gained experience of shepherding souls and cultivating the gifts of preaching, teaching, and healing.  Currently he serves as director of the Spiritual Life Retreat Center and Director of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita. Call the Center to make an appointment (316) 744-0167.

   

Rev.  Jim Mainzer

Fr. Jim was born in Chicago, IL grew up in Wichita, KS and was ordained to priesthood in 1987 after graduating from Wichita State University with a BA in Business Administration.  For over 24 years, Father Mainzer has served the Diocese of Wichita in various parishes. Most recently he successfully completed spiritual direction training through Creighton University at the Institute of Priestly Formation studying Jesuit spirituality and discernment, as well as other spiritual direction models.  Father Mainzer can be contacted for spiritual direction at (316) 838-1963 and generally meets individuals for spiritual direction at St. Jude Catholic Church in Wichita unless other arrangements are made. 

   

Rev. Kenneth J. Schuckman

Fr. Ken was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita in 1992 after receiving a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Masters of Divinity from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.  A native of Wichita, he holds an undergraduate degree from Newman University in Elementary Education.   He has served the Diocese as a high school teacher and chaplain, associate pastor, and for the past seventeen years has been a pastor.  He has also served as a Serra Club Chaplain and a Knights of Columbus chaplain for the State Council of Kansas.  In 2011, he completed a three year program on spiritual direction through Creighton University at the Institute of Priestly Formation, studying Jesuit spirituality and discernment.  Fr. Ken can be contacted at (620) 221-3610 and meets individuals at his parish, Holy Name Parish in Winfield, Kansas.

   

Suzanne Dextras

Suzanne has been a career-long educator on the secondary and college levels as well as with Via Christi Health. Her bachelor degree is from Sacred Heart College (Newman University).  Suzanne received her Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University and has been a spiritual director/counselor for many years, while serving as dean of students at St. Mary of the Plains College.  Prior to her role as vice-president/dean of students at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa Suzanne earned her doctorate in higher education administration from Oklahoma State University.  Most recently she served as director of ministry leadership formation programs with Via Christi Health System retiring from this position in 2013.  Offering spiritual direction has been an integral aspect of her various career choices and encounters. Call the Center for appointment information. (316) 744-0167

   

Mary Mertes

Mary has been serving as a spiritual guide at the Center since 2002. She and her husband, John, have been married for over 50 years and are parents to nine children and 31 grandchildren. Mary and John have been involved in counseling for married couples since 1970. They currently work in our diocesan Retrouvaille retreat program for couples experiencing difficulties in their marriage. Mary studied at the Pecos School of Spiritual Direction in New Mexico. Her witness to the vocation of marriage and family life is edifying to all who know her. Call the Center for appointment information. (316) 744-0167

   

Esther Wilhelm

Esther has worked at the Spiritual Life Center in the Accounting Department since 2008. She is a graduate of the SoulJourners formation program at the Benedictine Sophia Center in Atchison, Kansas. Esther and her husband, Tom have been married for over 30 years. They have three children and four grandchildren. Esther has been involved with Cursillo since 1996 and Kairos Prison Ministry - which ministers to women with incarcerated loved ones - since 2005. Currently, Esther is a contributing author in a monthly newsletter for the Spiritual Formation in Segregation Ministries, a prison ministry for the incarcerated in segregation. Call the Center for appointment information. (316) 744-0167 

   

Sister Mary Ellen Loch, CSJ

Sister Mary Ellen, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, is certified as a Spiritual Director by the Institute of Religious Formation at St. Louis University, which ended in the 30 day Spiritual Exercises in Manresa, Spain.  She received her MA in counseling at St. Louis University, an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and has taken post-graduate courses in theology and Sacred Scripture from SLU.  Sister has served in Formation and leadership roles in her Congregation and has worked as a counselor for abused women and children. Sister Loch can be reached at (316) 686-7171.

   

Carol Mullikin

Carol has been a spiritual director for many years.  She has worked extensively with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius with both individuals and groups.  Carol is an Adjunct Faculty Member for Friends University’s Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program where she teaches coursework in Spiritual Formation.  Carol loves literature and the arts and integrates these disciplines in her approach to Christian Spirituality. Carol can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and (316) 558-5474.

   

Philip St. Romain

Philip St. Romain holds a Doctoral Degree of Ministry in Spiritual Direction and is a professional Substance Abuse Counselor.  He has 33 years experience in leading workshops, retreats, seminars and classes.  He has authored many books and magazine articles on personal growth and spirituality.   Currently  he is a spiritual director and retreat leader in Catholic retreat centers in Kansas (Heartland Center for Spirituality in Great Bend and The Spiritual Life Center.) Philip can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (316) 253-2197.

   

Sister Mary Kevin Rooney, ASC

Sister Mary Kevin is a Sister Adorer in Wichita, Kansas. and has been a spiritual director and retreat leader for many years. In 2000, Sister accepted a position with the International ASC Center of Spirituality in Rome, Italy serving there until 2005. Sister then returned to Wichita and resumed the ministry of spiritual direction and retreat ministry both locally and nationally. Sister Rooney can be contacted at (316) 942-2201.

   

Sister Joann Schneider, CSJ

Sister Joann is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph and holds certification for Spiritual Direction by the Institute of Religious Formation at St. Louis University and from the Washington Theological Union, Washington, D.C.  Studies included Spirituality and Theology.  Sister has served in Religious Formation, retreat ministry and spiritual direction with laity, religious and clergy for many years, as a missionary in Japan and in the United States. Sister Schneider can be contacted at (316) 686-7171.