Yes, this has been fruitful in the past. However, we encourage priests to do the spiritual exercise with brother priests. Exodus can be a powerful way to deepen priestly relationships for diocesan and religious priests at a time where the communal life is not widely practiced for one reason or another.
What is the role of a community spiritual director?
Fraternities are encouraged to find a priest or mentor to serve as a spiritual director during their exodus. This is a guide to that role.
Lent and Pre-Lent are exercises in prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. Fraternities are made up of 6 to 8 men and are spiritually directed by a priest whenever possible.
Each fraternity has one fraternity leader. This leader is often the protagonist of the group. He is usually the one who brought the idea to this group of men. In some other cases, it is a man appointed by a priest to lead the fraternity. Regardless, the leader is the one who facilitates the meetings and keeps a pulse on the vitality of the group, especially as the journey through the desert gets long and becomes more challenging.
The goal of a spiritual director is to ensure the men in their group are taking up the gifts of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity in a way that is challenging and purifying, as well as spiritually healthy. The spiritual director should look to fulfill this goal by guiding the men of the fraternity (especially the leader) as he sees fit.
To clarify, spiritual direction does not mean one-to-one spiritual guidance with each member of the fraternity, though periodic meetings with the fraternity leader can help the entire group. There are no further parameters on the role of spiritual director of a fraternity. Pastoral judgment should be used in choosing how the goal of the spiritual director role will be successfully achieved.
Helping a fraternity by serving as their spiritual director has repeatedly proven to priests be an investment in the future of the parish. Help set men free, and they will be ready to help you advance the mission of the parish.
Three Best Practices
The following are three examples of best practices from priests around the United States. They are here to help you discern the level of investment you are able to make as a spiritual director for the parish’s Exodus 90 fraternities.
1. Enter into the spiritual exercise with the men of the parish. This includes doing all the ascetic practices and attending the fraternity meetings once per week. A priest in Indiana recently said that Exodus broke down the barrier between priests and laity unlike any other program he’s seen. This unification between a spiritual father and his sons is the beginning of abundant healing, increased trust, and the planting of invaluable seeds. (Proper boundaries between priests and laity can and should still be respected as priests join their men in this exercise).
2. Hold weekly spiritual conferences for your men. If a parish has many Exodus fraternities all entering the spiritual exercise at the same time, the priest could work to find a creative way that the he can play a role in the life of all the fraternities to some degree. A pastor in Minnesota called the men of the parish to take up the challenge of Exodus, which resulted in the formation of five fraternities of men. In order to serve all five fraternities and support the community they all shared, the pastor made time in his schedule to invest in these men every Saturday morning. The men would start with breakfast to break the Friday fast. The pastor would then give a brief spiritual conference to the men on a catechetical topic. After this, the fraternities would separate from the priest and the other four fraternities in order to hold their own required weekly fraternity meetings.
3. Meet with the Exodus fraternity for 30 minutes every other (or every third) week. This could mean attending the fraternity's regularly scheduled weekly meeting or setting aside another time to meet with them. This could include having a holy hour together where confessions are available, taking a Saturday morning hike as a group with time for discussion on how their Exodus is going, or meeting with a fraternity to discuss the challenges and graces of the Exodus journey supported by words of encouragement from their spiritual father.
These are just a few examples. Many more creative options are possible. Due to the fact that all parishes are different, the role of the spiritual director has been left open to your pastoral judgement.
"You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation."