History of the Spiritual Life Institute

Each summer, renowned theologians, scholars of religion, and advocates for social justice share their thoughts and experiences with students in order to inspire awareness, challenge preconceived notions, and shed light upon the spiritual journey in an increasingly globalized world.

The Spiritual Life Institute is a five-day intensive learning program in which participants:

  • Dialogue with scholars and practitioners who are active in the study of religion, theological reflection, and the propagation of peace and justice;
  • Engage with educators and scholars who creatively share their wisdom, vision, and experiences;
  • Reflect on emerging expressions of spirituality and faith so as to broaden our understanding of the religious experience and create the possibility for personal and social transformation.

Previous Institute topics and faculty

  • Topics from 2010's
    Year 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
    Topic "Religion and Violence" "For God and Glory: The Religion of Sports" "The Dead Sea Scrolls: History, Religion and Scripture" "Gnosticism in Greco-Roman Egypt" "Jesus and Judaism" "Illuminated Manuscripts, Scribal Practices, and the Transmission of Scripture"

    Reza Aslan, Ph.D.; Kenneth Butigan, Ph.D.; Charles Kimball, Ph.D.; James Wellman, Ph.D.; Ian Werrett, Ph.D.

    Dr. Christopher Evans; Fr. Patrick Kelly, S.J., Ph.D.; Dr. Alon Raab; and Dr. Ian Werrett

    Dr. Mladen Popovic; Dr. Hanne von Weissenberg; and Dr. Ian Werrett Dr. Jason BeDuhn; Dr. Robert Kugler; Dr. Michael Williams; and Dr. Ian Werrett Dr. Thomas Hatina; Dr. Agnes Choi; and Dr. Ian Werrett; Skype appearances by Dr. Richard Bauckham, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, and Dr. Reza Aslan Dr. Steve Delamarter; Dr. Katie Bugyis; Dr. Hanna Tervanotko; and Dr. Ian Werrett


  • Topics from 2000's
    Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
    Topic “The Living, Transforming Truth: The Spiritual Journey of Nonviolence, Peace, and Justice Today.” “One God: Three Faiths. Exploring the Relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” "Performance and Practice: Religion, Popular Culture and the Arts." "The Dead Sea Scrolls at Sixty: Past, Present, and Future Prospects." The Heart in a Heartless World: Religion, Suffering and the Problem of Evil."
    Faculty Shelly Douglas; Jim Douglas. Reza Aslan; Sr. Marianne Farina; Martin Jaffee, Ph.D.; Ian Werrett, Ph.D. Prof. David Hlavsa; Paul Kidder, Ph.D.; Andrew Rawnsley, Ph.D.; Ian Werrett, Ph.D. Prof. Robert Kugler; Cecilia Wassen, Ph.D.; Hanne von Weissenberg, Ph.D.; Ian Werrett, Ph.D.  

    Patrick McCormick, Ph.D.; David Suter, Ph.D.; Michiko Yusa, Ph.D.; Ian Werrett, Ph.D.


    Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
    Topic “A Voice for the Poor and the Marginalized: The Church Speaks Out.” “Many Paths of God” “The Communal Life of Faith and the Christian Commitment to Peace and Justice.” “Memory, Culture Creating Peace, Making Justice and the Journey of Spirit.” “Transforming Our Lives and Our World: Creativity, Poetic Vision, and the Spiritual Journey Towards Peace and Justice.”
    Faculty Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, D.D.; Dr. Ingrid H. Shafer; Sr. Jose Hobday, O.S.F.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Abbot Peter Eberle, O.S.B.; Sr. Jose Hobday, O.S.F.; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, D.D.; Sr. Nancy Sylvester, I.H.M.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Edwina Gately; Fr. John Dear, S.J.; Fr. Kevin F. Burke, S.J.; Kenneth M. Butigan, Ph.D.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Jeanette Rodriguez, Ph.D.; Carla De Sola; Sr. Joanne Doi; Kenneth M. Butigan, Ph.D. Jeanette Rodriguez, Ph.D.; Margie Shaheed; Don Foran, Ph.D.; Kenneth M. Butigan, Ph.D.
  • Topics from 1990's
    Year 1997 1998 1999
    Topic The Church: A Pilgrimage of Hope.” “New Testament Spirituality: A Way of Life.” “Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and the Quest for Peace: Our Role and Responsibility in the World Today.”
    Faculty Denise Despres, Ph.D.; Thomas Kselman, Ph.D.; Anthony T. Padovano, Ph.D.; Kenan B. Osborne, O.F.M.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J.; Stanley Marrow, S.J.; Dr. Kathleen Horton; Howard Clark Kee, Ph.D.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Kitty O. Cohen, Ph.D.; Diana L. Hayes, Ph.D., STD; Leonard Swidler, Ph.D.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B.
    Year 1993 1994 1995 1996
    Topic “Justice and Peace Shall Embrace: Balancing the Needs of the People and the Earth in Rural Communities.” “Putting Children and Families First.” “Open Eyes, Open Hearts: The Challenge of Christian Authenticity” “Cross Cultural Understanding of Prayer and Worship,”“Prayer of the Unspoken Word,”
    “Humming Our Spirits Home,”
    “Varieties of Female Religious Life in the High Middle Ages,”“The Leadership of Christ in the Early Church and Today,”“A Cross-cultural Spirituality for Ministry: Servanthood,”“Myths and Meaning for Cross-Cultural Ministry,”
    “Power and Praxis as Spiritual Discipline,”“Chastity and Gender,” “‘Anti-Christs,’
    ‘the Beast,’ and 666: Johannine Responses to Impending Early Christian Threat.”
    Faculty Don Hopps; Rev. Melanie Martin-Dent; Fr. Joe Kramis; Prof. Michael Gideon; Ron White; Sheila Powers, MDiv, STM.;  David Suter, Ph.D. Robin LaMoria; Douglas Anderson, Ph.D.; Paula Hoyt; Fred Wegener; Marjorie Jones, Ph.D.; Sheila Powers, MDiv, STM.; Kathy Morefield; Marilyn Bock; Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B. Daniel Harrington, S.J.; Dr. Mary E. Hunt; Dr. Barbara Newman; Sr. Laura Swan O.S.B. Toinette M. Eugene, Ph.D.; Jo Ann McNamara, Ph.D.; Paul N. Anderson, Ph.D.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B.
    Year 1990 1991 1992
    Topic “Building Community,” “Medieval Visionary Women,” “Beyond Innocence and Redemption,” “Catholic Social Teachings,” “Tensions in Contemporary Roman Catholicism,” “Academic Freedom in Catholic Institutions of Higher Education,” “The Franciscan Devotional Tradition,” “Confronting the Holocaust and Israel’s Power.” “Non-violence and the Spiritual Life,” “Spiritual Direction as a Parish Ministry,” “Spirituality and the Negative Emotions,” “Doing Spiritual Direction in Groups: Principles and Parish Settings,” “Catholicism and Modern Thought,” “The Emerging Laity: Re-discovering Personal Power,” and “Liturgy, Spirituality, and Social Justice.” “The Crisis in American Health Care: What Price Justice?” “The Kingdom of God: The Center of Jesus’ Message and the World of Today,” “Loving the Church,” and “Isaiah: Inspired Prophet and Challenging Tradition.”
    Faculty Fr. Charles Curran; Denise Despres, Ph.D.; Marc Ellis, Ph.D.; Fr. Paul Chirico, S.S., Ph.D.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Fr. Matthias Neuman, O.S.B., Ph.D.; Anthony T. Padovano, Ph.D.; Evelyn Eaton Whitehead, Ph.D.; James D. Whitehead, Ph.D.; Rev. Jan Larson; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B. Rev. John Fuellenbach, S.V.D.; Rev. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P.; Sr. Jean deBlois, C.S.J., R.N., Ph.D.; Peter Hebblethwaite; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B.


  • Topics from 1980's
    Year 1988 1989
    Topic “New Approaches to the Theology of Marriage,” “Integrating Spirituality and Service in Parish Ministry,” “Socrates, Jesus, and Paul: Teachers in Conflict,” “Five Virtues for Collaborative Ministry,” Toward a Non-Sexist Theology of Marriage,” Friendship: The Costly Basis of All Life,” “Jesus as Teacher,” and “Growing Strong at Broken Places.” “Building Community,” “Life Journeys: Tapping the Mythic Power in Biblical Stories,” “Being Sexual and Celibate,” “Spirituality and Doubt,” “Peacemaking as Healing: The Gospel of Mark,” The Harvest is Plentiful: Letting Biblical Images Speak to Gender Issues,” Communication/Collaboration,” “Fides Quaerens Intellectum: The Spiritual Significance of the Need to Understand,” and “Swords into Plowshares: Isaiah’s Vision and Ours.”
    Faculty Denise Carmody, Ph.D.; John Carmody, Ph.D.; Fr. Matthias Neuman, O.S.B., PhD; Pheme Perkins, Ph.D.; Paula Ripple, Ph.D. Karen Barta, Ph.D.; Daniel Barrigan, S.J.; Keith Clark, OFM Cap.; William M. Shea, Ph.D.; Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B.
    Year 1984 1985 1986
    Topic “Literature: The American Experience and the Search for God,” “The Word in the Flesh: Literature and the Beatitudes,” and “Memory and the Approach to Meaning: An Exploration of Eliot’s Four Quartets.” “Moral Reasoning and Bioethical Choices,” “A Christian View of Human Sexuality,” and “Christian Social Ethics in a Pluralistic Society.” “Spirituality and Youth,” “New Testament Christology and Spirituality,” “Women and Spirituality,” and “Spiritual Direction and the Ministry of Jesus.”
    Faculty Anthony Padovano, Ph.D.; Jeanne Concannon, S.N.J.M.; James Luguri, Ph.D.; Kathleen Fischer, Ph.D.; David Suter, Ph.D.; and Don Foran, Ph.D. Edward Vacek, S.J., Ph.D.; Diana Bader, O.P., Ph.D.; John Langan, S.J., Ph.D.; Matthias Neuman, O.S.B., Ph.D.; and Peter Chirico, S.S, Ph.D.. Rev. Joseph J. Kenna, Jr.; Margaret Page, O.P., Ph.D.; Janet Fulgenzi, O.P., Ph.D.; Kenneth E. Untener, Bishop of Saginaw; Matthias Neuman, Ph.D., O.S.B.; and Rev. Doug Bland.
    Year 1982 1983
    Topic “Women and the Church: A Call to Full Participation,” “Nuclear War and Gospel Proclamation,” and “The Gospel of Peace in New Images.” “Religion and American Life,” “New Age Spirituality,” and “Pauline Themes and Gospel Spirituality.”
    Faculty Kathleen Fisher, Ph.D.; Rev. Henry LaCerte O.S.B.; Rt. Rev. Adrian Parcher, O.S.B.; Rev. Martin E. Marty; Giovanni Costigan, Ph.D. Landon Gilkey, Ph.D.; Alexandra Kovats, C.S.J.P.; Fr. Stanley Marrow, S.J.; Kathleen Fisher, Ph.D.; Sandra Marie Schneiders, I.H.M.; and Don Foran, Ph.D.