Pope Francis
May 20, 2016

The 34th Annual Spiritual Life Institute at Saint Martin’s University will focus on the environment and humanity’s responsibility to itself and the world.

This year’s program, “Religion, the Environment and Capitalism,” to be held July 11-15 on  the University’s Lacey campus, is based on Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Laudato Si, where he presents a moral and ethical case for protecting and caring for the environment. His holiness not only suggests Catholics have been remiss in their God-given role as the custodians of creation but that all humans, no matter the race, gender or religious tradition, have a responsibility to protect and care for their home and one another.

“The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious,” writes Pope Francis, “not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women but because human life is, itself, a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement…our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is.”

This summer’s Institute is designed as a response to the pope’s call for dialogue and action. As his holiness stated in the encyclical, “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all.”

The Institute participants will convene daily from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Cebula Hall. However, there will be a daily fee offered to those who cannot attend the Institute in its entirety.

Registration for the session is open to the public. For Saint Martin’s students, this course fulfills the University’s general education requirement for religious studies.

The program will include guest speakers addressing topics such as, “Laudato Si: Why and How to Care for our Common Home,” “A Biblical Ethic of Attention,” “I, Me, Mine: Status Symbols of Mediocrity” and “Breaking the Chains: Using Faith to Fight Modern Slavery.”

Scheduled speakers include Eric Bugyis, Ph.D., professor of religion at University of Washington – Tacoma; Robert Beiser, executive director of the Seattle Against Slavery coalition; John Hopkins, Ph.D., associate dean of students and director of Service and Diversity Initiatives at Saint Martin’s; Father Stephen Rowan, Ph.D., until recently the acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Martin’s, and Jessica Jackley, cofounder of Kiva, the world’s first peer-to-peer microlending website.

During the past three decades, the Spiritual Life Institute has explored a wide range of topics designed to cultivate religious literacy, challenge preconceived notions and shed light upon the spiritual journey.

For more information on this year’s Institute, including the daily schedule and registration information, please contact Ian Werrett, Ph.D., the institute director, at iwerrett@stmartin.edu, or visit our web page for more info.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 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 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College.