Council members


George Warren

George is married to Lesley and they have two sons and a daughter (all married). They also have eight grandchildren. He recently retired after forty years of pastoral ministry in Churches of Christ. He now has more time to pursue spiritual direction, having completed formation at WellSpring in 2003. In 2012 he completed the Master of Arts (Spiritual Direction) through Sentir, studying the many facets of discernment. George also has voluntary roles with WellSpring.


Liz Anne Smith (Secretary)

Liz Anne is currently co-founder and co-director of Soul Journey Companions: a transformative journey in spiritual direction training in Canberra.  Liz Anne did her spiritual direction formation at the Institute of Spiritual Leadership in Chicago and her Masters in Pastoral Studies at Loyola University. As well as spiritual director and supervisor, Liz Anne also works with a Marist retreat team at Mittagong.  She is currently the national secretary of ANSD. For Council matters contact Liz Anne at


Irene Alexander

Irene is part of the Stillpoint Spiritual Direction Formation Team in Brisbane. She is also a lecturer in counselling and psychology at Christian Heritage College and the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, and at the Asian Theological Seminary in the Philippines.

She is the author of several books including Dancing with God: Transformation through Relationship and Practicing the Presence of Jesus: Contemporary Meditation. She is part of Northumbria Community, Brisbane, is the mother of two sons, and has a grandson and a granddaughter.


Judy Backstrom

Judy has a long experience in education within the Catholic tradition, and in later years, creating and facilitating programmes for those living with anxiety/panic disorders. She still conducts a private practice for individuals in that area. Judy has conducted retreats, reflection and prayer days, and is an active member of a Christian Life Community group. Graduating as a spiritual director in 1999, Judy has been associated with the Loyola Centre of Ignatian Spirituality (SA). Her training and practice is with people of all faith traditions, and she is particularly practised in working creatively (imagery, artwork) with people.


Dianne Bradley

Dianne is married to Graeme. They enjoy their family of two grown-up children, their partners, three grandchildren, and great granddaughter sharing their home with Isabella their standard poodle and laying hens whose numbers vary from time to time. She loves being in the garden whenever she is able, both working and in quiet, open to wonder.

Dianne has been engaged in the ministry of spiritual direction and retreats since the 1993 SPIDIR Ecumenical Program for Spiritual Directors South Australia. She has an MA (Theology) in Spirituality and Pastoral Ministry from the Australian Catholic University, is a longstanding member of the Ecumenical Spiritual Directors Association of South Australia and the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction. She has been a member of the Council since 2013. In 2009 Dianne co-founded the St Oswald’s Centre for Spirituality. She continues as its director along with a small team offering spiritual direction, weekly quiet times, retreats, quiet days and workshops. Dianne has attended various training workshops in supervision, has offered supervision in the SPIDIR formation program and is currently engaged as a supervisor in Tabor’s Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction.


Paul Cannon

Paul is married to Lyn and has two adult children, one who is married. Paul is an Anglican Priest, currently serving at Church in the Park (parish of Carey Park), Diocese of Bunbury, Western Australia.  Paul has also served in parish life and leadership at Diocesan level both in Bunbury, and the Perth Diocese. He is currently the Coordinator of Formation Training for Bunbury Diocese. Paul has been involved with Christian Meditation through which he has also engaged as a Benedictine Oblate, another part of his formation was the Ignatian 30 Days. He has been engaged with spiritual direction since 1989 in rural communities, and later became involved with the Dayspring, which has been his ongoing formation journey, beginning with the Diploma of Christian Spirituality in 2003. He was accepted as a spiritual director for the Diocese of Perth in 2005 – 2010. In 2010 he received a certificate in Professional Supervision from Supervision W.A. In 2017 Paul graduated with a Grad. Dip. in Spiritual Direction (Dayspring). Paul is active in spiritual direction in Bunbury and across the South West. Paul and Lyn serve on the Dayspring Guiding Committee and since 2015 have been working with Dayspring to create a presence in the South West for contemplative worship, spiritual direction, and formation.

 Dale's photo website

Dale Keenan

Dale is currently the Director of the St Francis Spiritual Direction Formation Program, an initiative of the Ministry Education Commission of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Queensland  –  located at St Francis Theological College, Milton, Brisbane.  She holds a Master’s qualification in Spiritual Direction from the Melbourne University of Divinity, and an undergraduate qualification in Education.  Her post graduate qualifications include a Graduate Certificate in Supervision of Spiritual Directors, Diploma in Training and Assessment and the Arrupe Program for Givers of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.  In 2014, she completed a six week Immersion Program for Givers of the Spiritual Exercises in Manresa Spain, and in 2015, co-led an Ignatian Pilgrimage to Spain, France and Italy.  She is a member of ANSD (the Australian Network of Spiritual Directors) , SDI (Spiritual Directors International) and the Companions in the Ministry of Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.  She is also the Director of Soul Song Journeys:  a place to nurture the soul with refreshment, enlightenment and peace.


Maria McCormack (President)

After completing the Spiritual Leaders’ Course at Heart of Life in 1992 Maria received Spiritual Direction at WellSpring. Her love for the ministry led her to the Formation Course at WellSpring and she graduated as a Spiritual Director in 2001.

Maria was engaged in retreat ministry for 23 years at the Passionist Centre for Spirituality. Over many years Maria has led retreats and workshops for a wide range of religious and non religious groups. For 10 years Maria was a Custodian of The Grove, Wholistic Centre for Women’s Spirituality. For three of these years she was Coordinator of The Grove.

For several years Maria has been a member of the Formation Team for The Art of Spiritual Direction Course at WellSpring. Maria is married to Peter and they have three daughters and one son, and two adorable grandchildren. (


Carey McIver (Treasurer)

Carey is married to Judy and they have seven children, six of whom are independent adults. They currently have six grand children. He has an extensive career in school and system leadership in state and catholic education in Tasmania and is a Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL). He is currently self-employed as an Executive Coach and facilitator and creatively works with school leaders and leadership teams in education sectors across Australia to transform good intentions into great results.

He has completed studies in the Diploma of Pastoral Ministry (Archdiocese of Hobart Pastoral Planning and Formation Centre) and is an Accredited Spiritual Director (Emmanuel Pastoral and Spirituality Centre)

He is active in lay leadership in the Archdiocese of Hobart, serving as Regional Coordinator for CSD for the past three years and currently as chair of his Parish Pastoral Council.


Mary Murphy

Mary has worked in Catholic Education for many years both at primary and secondary levels and in three different diocesan offices across the nation. She has qualifications in Education at Masters level, Clinical Pastoral Education at Basic and Advanced levels, Bachelor of Theology as well as a Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction. Mary has served on the national committee of Companions in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. She offers spiritual direction, retreat, reflection days and directs Retreats in Daily Life and The First Spiritual Exercises to individuals and groups. Mary is married to Dan Murphy and they have a little dog called Mick.


Liz Palmer

Liz is married with two daughters and two grandsons. She has spent most of her working life in administration after completing a degree in Maths and Computing. For most of her married life her husband has been a priest in the Anglican Church so she has been heavily involved in walking with people in their Christian pilgrimage during those years.

As a member of the first cohort, Liz graduated from the Residential Program in Spiritual Direction in 2004, is now a member of the formation team of that program and has been involved in the ministry of spiritual direction and retreat leading since then. Liz is also the treasurer of the ANSD and is the representative of ANSD on this council.


Anne Pate

Anne Pate

Anne completed the Arrupe program and Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction with Sentir College (now Jesuit College of Spirituality).  She is a member of the Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality Retreat Team in Melbourne.  Her deep desire is to share Ignatian spiritual practices, especially with people on the margins of the established churches.

Anne worked for several years as course coordinator and lecturer in Ignatian spirituality and spiritual direction at Jesuit College of Spirituality.  She currently holds spiritual formation roles with the Mercy Sisters in Victoria and with her church community, which meets in a Collingwood pub.   Anne is completing training as a pastoral ministry supervisor, and developing a PhD proposal focusing on the Spiritual Exercises and transformation.