Saint Martin’s Spiritual Life Institute to examine the ‘religion of sports’

May 31, 2011

LACEY, WASHINGTON — How does religion fit into the world of sports, and how do sports fit into the world of religion? Students and scholars will be exploring these questions at the Saint Martin’s University 2011 Spiritual Life Institute, June 20–24, on Saint Martin’s main campus.

This year’s program, “For God and Glory: The Religion of Sports,” marks the 29th annual meeting of the Spiritual Life Institute. During the Institute, an internationally recognized group of academics, authors and speakers will participate in a weeklong discussion on the complex subject of religion and sports.

“Studies on this topic tend to fall into two distinct yet closely related categories—religion in sports and sports as religion,” explains Ian Werrett, Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies at Saint Martin’s and director of the Spiritual Life Institute. “From the days of the first Olympic games in the 8th century B.C.E., which were held in honor of the Greek god, Zeus, to today’s athletic events, the sporting world has had a long and complicated relationship with religion.”

Werrett, a 1996 graduate of Saint Martin’s, will be leading the Institute. He will be joined by: Christopher Evans, Ph.D., professor of history of Christianity and Methodist studies, Boston University; Fr. Patrick Kelly, S.J., Ph.D., assistant professor in theology, Seattle University; and Alon Raab, lecturer in religious studies, University of California, Davis.

The Spiritual Life Institute, an intensive five-day learning program hosted annually by Saint Martin’s Religious Studies Department, offers students an opportunity to dialogue on the history, ethics and beliefs of the world's religious traditions. The Institute draws theologians, scholars and social justice advocates, who share their insights with participants in order to inspire awareness, challenge preconceived notions and shed light upon the spiritual journey in an increasingly globalized world. 

The Institute is open to the public. Participants have the option of registering for Continuing Education Credit (CEC 080) for $200 or non-credit attendance for $40 per day.

Werrett notes that this year’s Institute offers participants a unique hands-on learning experience. “Students will have the option of attending the Seattle Sounders/New York Redbulls match on Thursday, June 23,” says Werrett. “This ‘fieldtrip’ will provide a real-life context for the concepts, rituals and traditions we’ll be discussing during the week.”

The Spiritual Life Institute presents captivating topics and introduces top scholars to the Saint Martin’s community, but it also allows the University to share its Benedictine values in a distinctive way, according to Werrett.

“Hospitality is one of Saint Martin’s values,” he says, “and the Institute gives us the chance to welcome and share knowledge with community members who may be visiting our campus for the very first time.”

For more details about Saint Martin’s Spiritual Life Institute program, including schedule and registration information, visit

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

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Jennifer Fellinger
Vice president, marketing and communications
Saint Martin’s University