Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship

Social Justice & Spiritual Direction - An SDI Webinar Series

Online Video - Watch at Your Convenience

4-part Webinar Series

(Watch the video recordings at your convenience)




The journey to justice starts within. That's why spirituality can play (and has played) such an important role in the quest for equality, environmental protection and peace. We go within to go beyond. We go beyond to find our calling. Our calling brings us into community to act from love, compassion and mercy. But how best can spiritual companions support the creation of a just community? And how can they find the balance to do their work without burning out?

This 4-part webinar series will support our participants as they create a conscious approach to being a social justice spiritual director. It will look at the challenges directees face, examine tools for social change, and explore in detail what it takes to encourage inner transformation as part of societal evolution. If you already work in areas of social justice - or you seek to be more engaged in these areas - this series is for you.

Led by the remarkable Sister Alison McCrary, social justice lawyer and spiritual director (watch this SDI Learns video of her here and see her bio below), this webinar will also feature interviews with spiritual companions from a variety of traditions about their approach to social justice work.





Discern on these questions

If you are reading this, you have probably heard - and heeded - a call to serve others.

Please create space for yourself and invoke stillness to discern on the following questions:

  • Would you like to reconnect to your vision of a better world?
  • Would you like to deepen the connection between your spiritual work and caring for your community?
  • Would you like use your skills as a spiritual companion to support environmental causes? To alleviate the suffering of people who are denied basic human needs and rights? To stand with those who suffer through violence, hatred, systemic oppression or greed?

If you feel drawn to learn more, you are welcome here.

Join us on this journey of spirit and justice.





Course description

Session 1: Reconnecting to Our Vision, Sharpening our Theory, Deepening our Practice (90 minute duration)

Do you yearn for more connection between your spiritual work and political or social justice work?  What does integration of your values look like in your practice of spiritual companionship? In this session, we will explore the anatomy of a Social Justice Spiritual Director, hear some of the challenges directees face, deepen our political analysis, explore our layers of privileges and learn about tools for social change as well as social justice spiritual infrastructure. This session will lay the groundwork for our path in the next three sessions.

Session 2 - Grounded & Courageous (1 hour)

  • Becoming Grounded in Spiritual Practices
  • Being Willing to Challenge Power
  • How to Not Take Things Personally
  • Interview with Zen Buddhist Priest and activist Michaela O’Connor Bono

Session 3 - Listening to Those Directly Impacted (1 hour)

  • Believing In, Listening To, and Taking the Lead from Those Who Are Directly Impacted
  • Sustaining Ourselves
  • Companioning Others on the Journey to Justice
  • Interview with Reverend Dr. Denise L. Graves

Session 4 - A Heart-centered Approach (1 hour)

  • Patience, Commitment and Self-Reflection
  • A Heart-Centered Approach to Listening to Others and Walking them Through Discernment
  • Interview with Ravi Verma



Webinar Presenters

Sister Alison McCrary, SFCC, is a Catholic Sister, social justice movement lawyer, community mediator, and spiritual director. She has ministered on death row in Louisiana for the past thirteen years and currently serves as the Statewide Campaign Manager for the Unanimous Jury Coalition to create systemic change in Louisiana’s criminal justice system. Sister Alison is the former Executive Director of the National Police Accountability Project, Program Director of the New Orleans Community-Police Mediation, a 2009 Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, a 2010 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow, and a 2018 New Contemplative Fellow with Spiritual Directors International. She has worked in the areas of, and provided legal and spiritual support to, movements for human rights, housing rights, labor rights, economic justice, faith organizing, death penalty abolition, cultural rights in Brazil and New Orleans, racial justice, corporate accountability in Vietnam, police accountability, migrant and refugee rights, disaster recovery, and voters' rights. Sister Alison will lead our webinar series.

Reverend Michaela O'Connor Bono is a Buddhist priest, meditation teacher and the leader of Mid City Zen, a sangha in New Orleans, LA. She trained at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and Green Gulch Farm, both monasteries in the Suzuki Roshi lineage. Rev. Bono was ordained as a Soto Zen priest in September 2010. She has served on the board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an organization of Buddhists dedicated to radical social change. She was also a founding member of Sakyadhita USA, a branch of the International Association of Buddhist Women. She is involved in prison meditation and interfaith work. Michaela will be interviewed in Session 2.

Dr. Denise L. Graves is a community pastor who employs applied education techniques to build the Kingdom of God on earth through personal coaching, spiritual direction, and organizational consulting. As a parent of 7 adult children, a faith-based community strategies organizer, international missionary, Chaplain of the New Orleans Skaters Association and community pastor, she knows the power of God as expressed through people. A graduate of the St. Paul School of Theology, University of Kansas and the American Institute for Holistic Theology, Dr. Graves hosts bi-weekly prayer conference calls, provides community mediation and coaches and counsels individuals, couples and families.

Denise will be interviewed in Session 3.

Ravi Verma has been a spiritual director for more than 25 years. He teaches spiritual direction at Stillpoint. As chair of the SDI Coordinating Council, he seeks to "support the bridge builders who are called to be present to all who are seeking the mystery and to build a global community of fellow seekers and travelers." His own life has been one of bridge building between the East and the West, Hindu and Christian - both in himself and as he accompanies others. He is particularly interested in the practice of spiritual companionship as sacred activism.

Ravi will be interviewed in Session 4.






Additional Information

The first webinar will run 90 minutes to allow Sister Alison to set the stage for your webinar journey. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th sessions will last one hour. We understand that the timing of the sessions will not be convenient in every time zone on the planet. For those who have trouble making this time, a recorded copy of each session will be made available to all those who sign up. CEU credits are available for all those who participate. (See below)

Invitation to write for SDI

All those participating in the webinar will be invited to write for Connections, SDI's quarterly newsletter written by (and for) spiritual companions. The editor, Steven Crandell, will assess each submission for suitability. but every webinar participant who submits a piece will get a personal response and editorial advice whether or not the piece is accepted for publication. In addition, all participants will be invited to write for the SDI blog.

Learning Objectives

The aim of this series of webinars is to give spiritual companions and seekers practical insights into the dynamic relationship between social justice and spiritual companionship. Participants will be invited to experience this learning opportunity in a personal way by discerning their own path towards building community and seeking justice. Those in listening and caring professions - as well as all seekers - will learn about tools for social change, the importance of listening to those directly impacted by injustice and the efficacy of a heart-centered approach to social justice work.

Who may join the webinar?

Everyone is invited to participate in SDI Webinars. 

Are CEUs available?

SDI will provide a certificate of completion for self-reporting to agencies continuing education units (CEUs).

Tuition (4-part webinar package):

SDI Member Rate USD$59.00

Non-Member Rate USD$79.00

Tuition for webinar participation is non-refundable. All registered participants will receive access to the online recording of the SDI Webinar following the event.

A limited number of scholarships are available for those facing financial hardship. Please apply here.


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