Inspired by a call to grow in holiness, Deacon Eugene Uptmor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Mattoon is among more than 100 attendees of the two-year Catholic Spiritual Mentorship Program at the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. This is the largest class since the program began in 2011.
"I wasn't sure what to expect for the first session," said Deacon Uptmore. "I was met with great enthusiasm for the program. Catholics from all over the U.S. and Canada showed how eager they were to know more about prayer life, and how much they wanted to share this with others."
After five years of formation, Deacon Uptmor was ordained by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki in June 2012 and assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish.
"I am grateful for the encouragement given by Father John Titus, parochial administrator and Father Steve Arisman, parochial vicar, as well as the good wishes, prayers and support from my parish family," he said.
"I think what impressed me most was the integration of the classes with the meditations and the liturgies in which we participated. Everything seemed to be ordered to let one delve a little deeper into their friendship with God. I especially liked the meditations for each day, giving us some things to think about that would ordinarily slip our minds," continued Deacon Uptmor.
In collaboration with the Holy Family School of Faith, the Apostles of the Interior Life Catholic Spiritual Mentorship program combines eight-distance learning courses with four, one-week intensive sessions offered in-residence at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan. The program forms spiritual mentors to serve as guides and companions to others on their journey to holiness. It is designed for Catholics who have a desire to develop a deep prayer and sacramental life, a desire to increase their knowledge of the Catholic faith and a desire to grow in the virtues. The next in-resident course is scheduled for January 2016.
"The goal is holiness and to help others to teach the path of holiness," said Sister Susan Pieper, provincial for the Apostles of the Interior Life. "Through the grace of God we hope to rise up an army of spiritual mentors."
"I always thought I had a decent prayer life. My week here showed me how much I was missing and helped me to develop my prayer life and get closer to God," shared Deacon Uptmor after his first week-long session. "To be able to incorporate all of the steps of mental prayer that was taught here into my prayer life has really helped me."
Twelve attendees from the Springfield diocese have participated in the Catholic Spiritual Mentorship Program since its inception. Father Stephen Sotiroff, chap-
lain for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton also serves as chaplain of the Spiritual Mentorship Program, chaplain of the Apostles of the Interior Life and spiritual advisor for the School of Faith.
More information about the Catholic Spiritual Mentorship program can be obtained by contacting the School of Faith at 913-310-0014, email or online at www.schooloffaith.com/curriculum/spiritual_mentorship.asp.