Daniel Byron spoke to a Scottish priest of St. Pius X and Our Lady of Sorrows both in Dundee, has been appointed the Spiritual Director at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.
Fr. Jim Walls, who recently got the call from the bishop to appoint him as Spiritual Director, Fr Jim said: “My initial reaction was one of surprise, followed by concern about elderly relatives that depended on me, and the resultant conflict of obligations between family and church. I expressed this concern to the Bishop and we agreed that I would take time to pray about what was God’s will.”
He added: “After considerable prayer, and time, it feels right. It feels that it is indeed God’s will.
“As the initial phone call came out of the blue, the next step was to spend time in prayer, trying to discern God’s will; so my prayer became focused on spending time with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where He had to make a difficult decision and simply allowing God to lead me. During the next month, I met several times with Bishop Stephen who met and encouraged me in my deliberations.”
Fr Jim says his training has been invaluable seeing all the young men willing to devote their lives to the Lord, he added: “Thus far I have visited the Pontifical Scots College in Rome to experience a week in the life of the seminary and to meet the staff and the men studying for the priesthood; then followed a week in the English College in Valladolid for a meeting of English speaking Spiritual Directors from across Europe, and then a week in the Scots College in Salamanca meeting those men who would be entering the Pontifical College in Rome in September. This also enabled me to experience the propaedeutic period that all men applying for seminary have to undertake: a six month period of preparation for seminary life with an emphasis on prayer and Liturgy.
“The Bishops also agreed to the suggestion of Fr Mark Cassidy (outgoing Spiritual Director) that I attend a 3-week seminar in the States for Spiritual Directors in Seminary. This has proved invaluable, as the two priests facilitating the course were highly experience Spiritual Directors who have spent many years in Seminaries and parishes. As well as the theory the course consisted of practical sessions, referred to as Triads, whereby three of the participants acted out an actual SD session, one as the director, one as the directee, and one as an observer; remembering always that God is THE director and the director’s job is primarily to help the directee discern where God is in their life.
“I am also going to make the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola at St Bueno’s, the Jesuit retreat center in North Wales. This is a 30-day silent retreat during which I will meditate on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus with the help of an experienced spiritual director.”
He is looking forward to helping the men develop their relationship with God and not looking forward to the heat, Fr Jim said: “I’m looking forward to helping the men develop their relationship with the Lord, a job which my predecessor Fr Mark Cassidy has already been working hard at for the last seven years; and to further their ability to discern the will of God in their lives.
“The least I’m looking forward to is the heat… being a Dundonian I’m not that experienced at dealing with the heat!”