The School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College now offers a Spirituality Studies program, a comprehensive initiative that will explore the richness of the Christian spiritual tradition, its historical and contemporary texts, practices, figures, and movements, drawing from existing faculty strengths in Bible studies, systematics, church history, practical theology, ethics, and the Jesuit tradition.
The program was officially launched at the STM Dean’s Colloquium on October 1.
“Spirituality Studies focuses on the religious experience of faith and spiritual practices,” said STM Professor of the Practice of Theology Colleen Griffith, faculty director of the new program.
“This is doing theology the way that is appropriate to the School of Theology and Ministry,” said STM Dean Thomas D. Stegman, S.J., who praised Griffith’s leadership in shepherding the program’s development over the course of more than two years. “We teach theology in a special way. We take the next step, which is to ask the ‘so what?’ question. What does this mean for people going into ministry? What does this mean for the people who will receive the ministry from our graduates?
“Now, we’re really talking about the life of discipleship. How do you translate theological truths into living practices of the faith? From our perspective, Christian spirituality, at its best, is grounded in the tradition of the Church and in a community of believers.”
The core faculty members for Spirituality Studies, in addition to Griffith, are André Brouillette, S.J., Francine Cardman, Barton Geger, S.J., Angela Kim Harkins, Catherine Mooney, and Michael Simone, S.J., from STM and Andrew Prevot and Brian Robinette from the Theology Department.
“Since [STM] is committed to rigorous academic inquiry and pastoral excellence,” said Griffith, “we asked ourselves how we might offer programs in spirituality studies that would contribute to the scholarship or academic study and to the pastoral life of the Church, and to people in the world who are interested in spirituality?”
For the students who will go on to pursue the academic study of spirituality as scholars, writers, and teachers, a Spirituality Studies concentration option has been added to STM’s advanced degree programs, such as the master of theology, licentiate in sacred theology, and doctorate in sacred theology.
For practitioners in pastoral ministry, religious education, nursing, caregiving, social work, or faith-based service, there are 18-credit certificate programs in three specializations: Christian Spirituality, Ignatian Spirituality, and Spiritual and Pastoral Care.
The program will also offer a post-master’s certificate in spiritual formation, a course of study that focuses on the themes of prayer and discernment, the art of spiritual direction, and working within faith communities, and is designed to be completed over three summers. The certificate is geared for people involved in high school or college ministry, teaching, spiritual direction, parish ministry, or non-profit work who are seeking to strengthen their ability to transform the spiritual lives of individuals and Christian faith communities.
Another summer offering is an Intensive on the 19th Annotation, a one-week program for spiritual directors on facilitating for others the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life, also known as the 19th Annotation retreat.
In his keynote address at the Dean's Colloquium, STM Professor Thomas Groome touched on the topic of his new book, Faith for the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality. At the reception that followed, members of the Spirituality Studies faculty were available to talk informally with people interested in learning more about the program’s offerings.
There has been a hunger for information and education in spirituality and spiritual traditions, said Griffith, who credits the “tremendous vision and energy” of Fr. Stegman. “Hats off to Tom Stegman. He’s had a passion for this initiative. He’s a scholar who’s always had keen pastoral instinct. He’s picked up the pulse of what’s happening in the Church and in the world and the need for this.”
The application process for Spirituality Studies is now open and courses will be offered beginning in the 2020 spring semester.
—Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications | September 2019