photo by Nick Wilkes Photography

“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.”

– Saint Benedict of Nursia

We all need companions on the spiritual journey. A spiritual guide is someone who helps you attend to God’s presence in your life. You might come to spiritual guidance to reflect deeply on your experiences or to integrate spirituality into your daily life. Spiritual guidance is helpful at times of transition, loss or disillusionment.

Spiritual guides are trained and experienced in helping others with their spiritual lives. Distinct from counseling, the goal of spiritual guidance is not to solve life’s problems, but rather to increase awareness of how God is already active in your life.

The particular shape, frequency and length of a spiritual guidance relationship is a personal choice. Before engaging a spiritual guide, consider these questions:

  • Is it essential that your guide have a background in a particular faith tradition?
  • Would you feel more comfortable talking with a woman or a man?
  • How often do you wish to meet with your spiritual guide?

Meet our spiritual guides

All of our spiritual guides are trained and experienced in spiritual guidance.

Beth-O-Brien-spiritual-guideBeth O’Brien, MA Education, MA Religious Studies, is an oblate of Holy Wisdom Monastery, retreat leader and meditation teacher (Centering Prayer).  She is a graduate of the Spiritual Guidance Training Program at Siena Center and the founder of Contemplative Presencea ministry of spiritual transformation rooted in Christian contemplative practice. Companioning others in their inner exploration, Beth has additional training in discernment, forgiveness and inner-body focusing/listening. Her interests include the Christian mystical tradition, evolutionary and incarnational (embodied) spirituality, interfaith dialogue, and carrying compassion into the world.  Beth is married and the mother of two, young adult daughters. Beth is available for a single session, serving as guide for a directed retreat, or meeting regularly for on-going spiritual guidance.

Carole-Kretschman-spiritual-guideCarole Kretschman worked in health care for 40 years and is a retired registered nurse. In addition to graduating from the Spiritual Guidance Training Program at the Siena Center in 2006, she is an oblate at Holy Wisdom Monastery and has completed a three-year program at the Christine Center in 2010 entitled Spiritual Deepening for Global Transformation. She has practiced centering prayer since 2004 and strives to live contemplatively while listening to the voice of the spirit in all things.  Her spirituality is based on Benedictine values, centering prayer meditation and the 12 steps.

Claudia Greco RN, MS, does not take a position of teaching or leading as a spiritual guide, but rather, as a companion on the path. Her focus is on spirituality, not necessarily religion. Claudia’s personal areas of study include a 2004 certificate from the two year “Spiritual Guidance Training Program” at the Siena Center (based in Eco-Feminism), a year-long study of the Rule of Benedict culminating in her profession as an oblate in association with Holy Wisdom Monastery, ongoing participation in spiritual guidance, 15 years of Buddhist study, and completion of a masters degree in counseling and guidance. Claudia is certified as a Level One Life Force Yoga practitioner and as a Level III Reiki practitioner. Specialty areas:  contemplative retreats, meditation practices, breath work, and attending spiritually to traumatic experience.

Everett-Rice-spiritual-guideEverett Rice seeks to serve those in spiritual guidance with insight, clarity and compassion. His personal path has brought him in touch with a wide array of spiritual practices and faith traditions. This diverse spiritual journey brings a focus on the interconnectedness of all life. Everett’s experience includes certification from the Spiritual Guidance Training Program at the Siena Center in Racine, and graduation from the Master of Arts in Servant Leadership program at Viterbo University in La Crosse. Everett is also a member of the monastery’s oblate community. He has served as a retreat leader, a management trainer and in program leadership positions. Everett’s spiritual practice is based in the silence of contemplative prayer/meditation. His personal interests include the role of spirituality in the workplace.

Jack-Finney-spiritual-guideJack Finney is a retired Lutheran (ELCA) pastor and an oblate at Holy Wisdom Monastery.  He received his spiritual guidance certificate from the Shalem Institute over 15 years ago.  He likes meeting with people who want to bridge organized religion and spirituality as well as with those who say they are spiritual but not religious. Jack likes being a prayer coach. He also has a passion to help people discern God’s will, to listen to their heart’s desires. Jack is available Monday-Friday in the mornings or afternoons.

Joanne-Kollasch-spiritual-guideJoanne Kollasch, OSB, serves as retreat leader and spiritual guide, having completed a year’s program for this work at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership, Loyola University, Chicago. For more than 50 years, Joanne has helped guide the vision, mission and ministries of her community at Holy Wisdom Monastery. She co-created the Community of Benedict, Benedictine Women of Madison and the Oblate community at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Mary-Alberts-spiritual-guideMary Alberts has been welcoming seekers to her door since completing the Spiritual Guidance Training Program at the Siena Center in 2005. Mary, who is also a licensed massage therapist, believes that body, mind, and spirit are deeply linked. Including body awareness in a soul work session promotes insight, especially for those who have lost connection to or suffered via the body. Similarly, reflective body work can bring a seeker to awarenesses not reached by talk alone. Mary is adept at working with those in creative process. She is also fluent in the particular language and meanings of dreams. A longtime student of the Enneagram, Mary is a proponent of its spiritual uses. She is an oblate of Holy Wisdom Monastery and an avid organic gardener.



Spiritual guidance provides companionship for
the spiritual journey


What to expect

In spiritual guidance sessions, it is essential to trust your instincts and to remain open. Your guide may introduce new methods of prayer or forms of expression, such as journaling or drawing. They will ask you to speak honestly and they will be responsive to your unique spiritual path.

Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, guidance can help you notice and respond to God’s presence, deepening your connection to the sacred.


Making an appointment

The fee for an hour of spiritual guidance is $50

Spiritual guides at Holy Wisdom Monastery are available by appointment. For more information contact Monica Jefcoat  at mjefcoat@benedictinewomen.org, 608-836-1631, x158.

Individuals on personal retreats may want to meet with a spiritual guide while at Holy Wisdom Monastery. This can be noted on the Availability Inquiry Form for guest rooms and hermitages.