Damascus Spiritual Leaders Program

Applications for the 2024 intake have now closed. To be considered for our 2025 intake, please contact us.

The Damascus Spiritual Leaders Program is a one-year, part-time program for people in various positions of leadership, spiritual formation and outreach ministries.  Formators, priests, ministers, members of religious orders, spiritual health workers, pastoral associates/lay ecclesial ministers, community and spiritual leaders, chaplains, pastoral care practitioners, school principals, teachers, school mission leaders and those working in health will especially find the program of benefit.

The Damascus learning process supports the participant’s personal integration of the theory and practice of a contemplative and discerning approach to the spiritual and pastoral elements of leadership. The program is contemplative and experiential in its approach and enables participants to focus on growth in self-awareness and sensitivity to the movement of God’s Spirit in oneself, as well as in the person to whom one is ministering.

Participants will engage with areas of spirituality including:  understanding your emotional inner life; stages of faith formation; discernment; contemplative practices; leadership influence; and meditation and prayer.  The units studied are:

  • DD8703Y Personal Awareness & Human Development
  • DP8002S Leadership Formation & Praxis
  • DP9611C Teaching Meditation & Prayer

Attendance is in-person if you reside in Melbourne, VIC or online via Zoom, if elsewhere.

The Damascus group consists of a small number of participants each year, providing the best environment for the course.

Click to download the Damascus application form

Census Dates in 2024
The Census Dates below are the final dates on which a student may withdraw from the Damascus Spiritual Leaders Program without financial penalty.  Withdrawal after the dates below will result in a ‘Fail’ being marked on the student’s transcript and no refund will be possible unless special circumstances apply as per the Refund Policy.

Teaching Meditation & Prayer – 15/7/24


Our recently published Celebrating 40 Years book contains heartfelt reflections by Heart of Life graduates, sharing the deep effects that their formation has had in their lives, on those around them, and in their ministry.  These personal accounts share the richness and depth of personal and spiritual transformation that ‘going deeper’ offers.

Patricia Johnson, graduate of the Spiritual Leaders Program, shares:

This group inspired me to wholeness, acceptance, commitment to change and how to respond to disturbances.  The welcoming, the wisdom of words and the combined searching for truth, assisted me to discern that spirituality is in the simplicity of being, out of which deep fruit is born.

To read this reflection in full, download PDF, or purchase Celebrating 40 Years: Reflections on a Ruby Anniversary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I study the program for the Graduate Certificate in Divinity?

Participants who meet the ‘previous Degree’ and other criteria, may undertake the Damascus Program as a fully-accredited Graduate Certificate in Divinity.  Enrolment is made through Yarra Theological Union & Catholic Theological College (colleges of the University of Divinity) after an Offer of a Place is provided by Heart of Life. Fee-Help for tuition fees is available to qualifying students when studying for this award.

Can I study without accreditation?

This formation program may be undertaken without YTU accreditation. The fee for undertaking the program for a ‘Heart of Life Damascus Spiritual Leaders Certificate’ is $7532.

Is this program recognised by CECV?

The Damascus Spiritual Leaders Program has been accredited by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) for professional learning hours towards ‘gaining/maintaining accreditation to teach, or maintaining accreditation to teach religious education or lead in Catholic schools’.

What is the process for gaining a place in the program?

Generally, we recommend the following:

1/ You have had experience of being in leadership or are an aspiring leader.

2/ You sense a call to become a better leader.

3/ Attend a Taster session if possible – these are generally held in June and August each year and are publicised on our website.

4/ Have a conversation with us before you submit your application.

5/ Complete and submit application, no later than 15 October.

6/ Attend interview.

7/ Based on steps 5-6, receive an Offer of a Place.

8/ For those studying for the Graduate Certificate, enrol with Yarra Theological Union.  Overseas students must enrol with YTU by 15 November.


As I embarked on the journey of learning about spiritual leadership, the year brought new opportunities, rewarding challenges and personal growth. The course was like finding a treasure in a field, whilst discovering treasures within me. It has been a journey of getting to know myself and the deepest parts of who I truly am. This has led me to desire a freedom to become more of who God has called and created me to be. I experienced a richness of God’s compassion for me and for those I care for and support in my ministry as a spiritual leader. I am now left with my heart seeking to find more hidden treasures within and a longing to help others discover the treasure they are in God. It was a great blessing for me to have had the opportunity to learn and grow through the Spiritual Leaders Program. I am truly grateful for all that I learnt from those gifted in teaching the course and from my fellow spiritual leaders.


The Spiritual Leaders program was one of the best things I have ever done. The depth with which we explored the course content, especially the verbatims and discernment processes, helped to deepen and affirm my own spiritual practices and hone my ability as a group facilitator of holistic meditation programs. The supervisors were quite awesome in their “soul mining” skills and abilities, and while at times very challenging, hauled up many treasures. This led, quite unexpectedly, to a deep personal healing along the way, which gave me a greater level of trust and confidence in myself, in God, and in the unfolding of life and love. It was a great honour to share this journey with spiritual companions who have been inspiring, courageous, accepting, compassionate and encouraging. A truly life-changing experience for which I am deeply grateful.



The experience that I acquired from the Spiritual Leaders course has had much more effect in my life and much more value than I can express in a sentence or two, or a full page. It is however to me a lifelong experience, which starts at the beginning of the course and never comes to an end, as it becomes part of my life. God bless you and keep up the good work.