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Annual Evelyn Underhill Lecture
in Christian Spirituality


This annual summer lecture was initiated in 2001 by the Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM) and has been continued by the School of Theology and Ministry (STM).  The lecture is named for the early 20thCentury mystic, Evelyn Underhill (1874-1941), a married laywoman in ministry.  She was the first woman invited to give a series of theological lectures at Oxford and the first to become a retreat leader in the Anglican Church.  Widely recognized for her classic text Mysticism, a comprehensive study of religious experience, Underhill authored numerous works on the Christian spiritual life.

Click on the red lecture title below to view the video.


John Philip Newell

July 8, 2017 
The Meeting of East and West: Spirituality Beyond Boundaries

Lecture Transcript

Presenter: Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell, founder of the School of Celtic Consciousness, ordained minister in the Church of Scotland, and former warden of Iona Abbey in the Western Isles of Scotland

Just as the species of the earth need one another to be well, so the great spiritual traditions of humanity depend on one another to be whole.  In this annual lecture, Rev. Dr. Newell discusses a spirituality of inter-relatedness.


Ilia Delio

July 16, 2016 
Evolution and the Primacy of Love

Lecture Transcript

Presenter: Ilio Delio, O.S.F., Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair at Villanova University

According to Teilhard de Chardin, evolution ushered in a new understanding of reality based on love-energy.  This year's annual lecture explores Teilhard's philosophy of love and the import of conscious love for the direction of human evolution.


Most Reverend Dr. Rowan Williams

July 11, 2015
What the Outsider Sees:
Teresa of Avila and the Contemplative Vision

Lecture Transcript

Presenter: Most Reverend Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, England, and served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002-2012.

St. Teresa’s thoughts on encountering and living with God are much shaped by her position as an outsider to the hierarchical world of her day.  This lecture reflects on the contemplative as the outsider, and what she brings to prayer and theology. 


Simone Campbell, S.S.S.

July 12, 2014
Politics, Faith, and Prophetic Witness
Presenter: Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby organization, and popular author, including A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperCollins, 2014)

Too often the intersection of faith and politics becomes a crossroad of judgment and certitude; but trying to follow Christ requires a different approach. This lecture explores the call to touch the pain of the world and release hope into the darkness.



July 13, 2013
Ask the Beasts: Spirituality and the Evolving Earth
Presenter: Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., Distinguished Professor of Theology, Fordham University

Based on Elizabeth A. Johnson's upcoming book, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014), this lecture asks the creatures formed by life’s evolution for their wisdom about the creative love of the living God.



July 14, 2012
Laughing With the Saints: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

Presenter: James Martin, S.J., a popular author and culture editor of America magazine

The author of the book, Between Heaven and Mirth (HarperOne, 2011), speaks on joy and laughter as important components of the life of faith.



July 9, 2011
Practical Mysticism Today: Underhill’s Vision and Beyond
(This lecture was not videotaped.)
Presenter: Colleen M. GriffithSTM associate professor of the practice of theology and faculty director of spirituality studies

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Evelyn Underhill's classic text Mysticism, this lecture explores the call to a practical mysticism in our time.  View Dr. Griffith's 2012 Boston College lecture In the Footsteps of Mary Magdalene: The Spirituality of Evelyn Underhill. 



July 10, 2010
The Christian Meaning of Enlightenment

Presenter: Richard Rohr, O.F.M., founding director, Center for Action and Contemplation, and popular author, including Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass, 2011)

Fr. Rohr believes contemplation teaches people an alternative way of reading reality that is non-dualistic and therefore allows people to love enemies, forgive offenses, live with paradox and mystery, and know God.  Its loss is at the heart of the religious discouragement and regression today; its rediscovery is at the heart of our deepest hope. 



July 11, 2009
A Spirituality for the 21st Century: Beyond the Ghetto and Assimilation

Presenter: Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., Master of the Order of Preachers from 1992-2001, and author of What Is the Point of Being A Christian? (Burns and Oates, 2006)

How can Christians maintain a distinctive religious identity while both emerging from the ghetto – now called “life-style enclaves” – and yet not be simply assimilated into the broader society? This lecture reflects upon a spirituality that can help Catholic Christians reach beyond sectarianism while remaining well identified as something more than just “one of the crowd."



July 12, 2008
Spirituality and the Second Half of Life

Presenter: Kathleen R. Fischer, theologian and popular author, including Winter Grace: Spirituality and Aging (Upper Room, 1998)

Dr. Fischer reflects on “how aging can be a spiritual journey,” through the lens of four themes: hope in the midst of loss; living in the “grace of the present moment;” discovering an “integrity based on mercy;” and creating a legacy for future generations.



July 7, 2007

The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
Presenter: Thomas Keating, O.S.C.O., author, teacher, and founder of the Centering Prayer movement

Learning to listen—to cultivate listening as a capability—is the main topic of this lecture, which ends with a five-minute meditation session.



July 15, 2006
Creating the Church Women Want: Re-Birthing the Vision
(This lecture was not videotaped.)
Presenter: Edwina Gately, poet, theologian, artist, writer, lay minister, modern-day mystic and prophet, and founder of the Volunteer Missionary Movement.  View her 2005 Boston College lecture, Working for Justice: Handing on the Faith.



July 9, 2005
Resisting Evil: How to be a Christian in America Today
(This lecture was not videotaped.)
Presenter: Joan Chittister, O.S.B., internationally known writer and lecturer and executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality



July 10, 2004
Beyond Spirituality 101: Discipleship for the Second Half of Life

Presenter: Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., president of the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas, and popular spirituality author

Fr. Rolheiser addresses the unique spiritual needs of those in midlife and beyond. He asks, "Once we have achieved the basics of discipleship, and have 'come home' from the early spiritual wanderings of adolescence, what next?"



June 28, 2003
Resurrection in the Gospel of John: Theology and Spirituality
(This lecture was not videotaped.)
Presenter: Sandra M. Schneiders, I.H.M., professor of New Testament studies and spirituality, Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, CA, and author



June 29, 2002
Holistic Discernment for Life Choices
(This lecture was not videotaped.)
Presenter: Wilkie Au, adjunct professor of theological studies, Loyola Marymount University and popular spirituality author



June 30, 2001

Fostering Spiritual Growth: Theological and Psychological Considerations  (This lecture was not videotaped.)
Presenter: Joann Wolski Conn, professor of Christian spirituality in the Graduate Program for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Counseling, Neumann College, and former President of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality