Kardia Formation

Strengthening Spirit – Releasing Potential

Heart Wisdom Graduation


On Sunday 11th November Kardia Formation conducted our first graduation ceremony for the Heart Wisdom Program: Formation for Spiritual Directors.  Julie Mitchell, Pauline Cheung, Bob Yip, and Olivia Cheung graduated in the company of family and friends in a joyful and sacred celebration.

Bernadette Miles thanked the graduates for their contribution in shaping the Heart Wisdom Program as our first cohort.  Heart Wisdom was formally recognised by the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction earlier this year as meeting the requirements of formation program for spiritual directors.  Bernie also thanked those who have supported the Heart Wisdom Program in particular Loreto Australia, South East Asia, Leonie Kelleher, Theresa Ma and the Holy Spirit Sisters for their ongoing support.

Marlene Marburg congratulated the graduates in her valedictory speech where spoke about what the graduates had undertaken through their complete immersion in and emergence from the work of formation.  The four graduates have shown us what a Kardia Spiritual Director does:

“They have prayed, listened and wrestled with God so that they could know Love and the grace of resurrection; so that they could communicate to their directees this grace through their very selves. Further, their directees have enriched them, called them forth to be the best they can be, which is nothing more and nothing less than allowing God to do the Christic work of human transformation. Kardia Directors sit with their directees as co-discerners and co-creators. They wonder with them, pleased not to have the answers to dilemmas before them. They would prefer to ponder and wait on the emerging themes and the eventual graces of co-creation. Kardia Directors have strong awareness of the way in which God moves them interiorly. They notice the movements towards life and towards depletion, and help their directees to become familiar with these movements and so make good decisions. Kardia Directors know what it is to incarnate their prayer: ‘Take Lord and Receive’, all that I am, my liberty and my entire will, and then to sense that God does with it what God will.”  (read Marlene’s full speech here)

Julie Mitchell spoke on behalf of the graduates thanking Bernie and Marlene for the formation they received:

“Bernie and Marlene have been our formators – this isn’t an everyday word. It means a former, a Graduationfashioner, a maker. These words suggest I think that formation is, at its heart, a deeply creative process. So, Marlene and Bernie have been fashioning us to become spiritual directors. What has that looked like? They have shared their prodigious knowledge and skills with us – we are well acquainted with the content, dynamics and graces of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius; we have explored theology, scripture, models of spiritual growth, different ways of prayer, psychological theory (defense mechanisms!), frameworks for listening, styles of spiritual direction; we have considered ethics and boundaries in spiritual direction – and much, much more.”  (Read Julie’s full speech here)

Julie describes what she learnt in the Heart Wisdom Program:

What I have learned as a participant in Heart Wisdom formation?

I have learned a great deal about God and myself in these two years of formation as a spiritual director – I will mention just a few things and they are in no particular order.

God delights in surprises and enjoys the look of stunned amazement on my face. I am grateful for God’s patience in my slow take up of expecting the unexpected.

God is not particularly fond of the boxes we build to contain and define God. God is essentially a revolutionary and will gently subvert and challenge our presumptions and certainties in order to be more truly seen.

God’s primary modus operandi is loving invitation. God doesn’t want us to be bystanders in God’s life nor does God want to be a bystander in our lives. We are invited into the work of co-creation with God in this world of great beauty and great pain.

God does not adopt a deficit position towards any of us – Barack Obama actually borrowed his presidential campaign slogan ‘Yes, we can’ from God. God desires my flourishing, your flourishing, our flourishing.

As for my hopes for my ministry, I would love to see Spiritual Direction taken up in the evangelical part of the church neighbourhood where I hang out, and I wonder how God might create something new from this emerging part of my life, and the 38 years I have spent as a teacher and teacher educator. I am waiting and wondering.