Members' News


From Lisa Dahill:
As of July 1, I will be the Miriam Therese Winter Professor of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at the former Hartford Seminary, now titled Hartford International University for Religion and Peace.  This interfaith graduate school offers degrees and certificates for people of diverse religious backgrounds, and its focus on peace and inter-religious dialogue makes it a vibrant and forward-thinking community.  I am excited to be joining the faculty here and also to be leading a new Center for Transformative Spirituality at the university, creating programming both locally and virtually.  In teaching and in leadership of this Center, my eco-theological edginess will have plenty of scope for expression, and I look forward to seeing what creative initiatives and collaborations might emerge from/with these new roles.  It’s daunting and thrilling, a position for which my time in CLU’s dynamic interfaith and interdisciplinary context has helped prepare me (I hope!).  Here is the press release the school issued upon my hire.

Effective immediately, here's my new email address.  The school’s mailing address is 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105.  If I will have an office phone number I don’t know it yet, but my cell phone will continue to be 614-338-8130.  And if all goes well, my new home address will be 54 Richmond Lane, West Hartford, CT 06117.  My house here has sold and I’ll be leaving Thousand Oaks on June 10.  But once I get settled in Hartford I’ll have a nice guest room and you are welcome!!


From Diana L. Villegas, IRC chair:
We share with you our third annual IRC Newsletter. It includes news of developments in the study of Christian Spirituality reported by our members residing in several countries, Australia,  Colombia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, and the USA.

From SSCS member David Perrin:
"I am giving a public lecture based on the article which I just published on The Collapse of Self-Transcendence.  I'm wondering if you could post the information on the upcoming public lecture in the event some SSCS members would like to register?  I include full information below." See the SSCS blog post about the article.


May 4, 2021 (7:30 -8:30 pm EDT or GMT-4)

COVID-19 and the Reshaping of Meaning-Making in Everyday Life

As human beings we strive naturally to be the best person we can be. We hunger for deep meaning and happiness in our lives and search for ways to attain both; this is called “self-transcendence.” Given the centrality of self-transcendence in human life, whether one is a believer or not, opens the question of how the COVID-19 pandemic has potentially diminished or even cut off access to self-transcending experiences that are knit into our everyday lives. For example, our participation in social activities, visits to galleries to enjoy art, participation in rowdy sports activities, and community volunteering opportunities are all potentially self-transcending experiences. But we have been cut off from them to a large degree which, for many people, has led to a loss of hope and a rise in despair. There is an unrelenting feeling of uncertainty: we don’t know quite what to do with it or where to go to resolve it. This conference seeks to understand the role of “self-transcendence” in our lives, how COVID-19 has impacted it and ways to cope such that we become more aware of what we can do to feel centered and hopeful during these challenging times.

More Information and to Register is available here


From SSCS member David Perrin:

Below is a link to a podcast based on an upcoming article publication in a journal. I was the interviewee for the podcast last week.  Below is the link and the information.  


Spiritual Meaning-Making During the Pandemic,  

with guest David B. Perrin 

Interview by Matthew Wickman, Founding Director Brigham Young University, Utah, USA, Humanities Center. February 19, 2021. Podcast link

Synopsis: Feelings of self-transcendence, of connectedness to God, others, and the world, are widely seen as a principal feature of spiritual well-being. So, when pandemic conditions shut us in and, to a degree, cut us off from our normal routines of living, this can lead to psychological and even spiritual depression. David Perrin is a professor of religious studies at St. Jerome’s University of the University of Waterloo in Canada. By craft and training, he is a theologian, a former president of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, a widely published scholar on spirituality, and the author of a forthcoming article titled “The Collapse of Self-Transcendence: COVID-19 and the Reshaping of Meaning-Making in Everyday Life.” During this episode we discuss self-transcendence as a feature of human experience, how the pandemic affects us spiritually, and how to work through and past our present circumstances. (47 minutes) 

From SSCS member Michael O'Sullivan:

The British Association for the Study of Spirituality has been renamed the International Network for the Study of Spirituality (INSS).  Michael O'Sullivan, former SSCS Board of Directors member and Steering Committee member of the Christian Spirituality Study Group of the American Academy of Religion. is a member of the INSS Board of Directors and played an important role in bringing about the new name. INSS recently launched a new website. It is also organising an international conference on Spirituality in Research, Professional Practice, and Education to take place online on June 7 and 8. Please see the website for details. Abstracts are being received until Feb 15th. Because of the pandemic, this conference will be online.


From Diana L. Villegas, IRC chair:
The International Relations Committee is happy to share the second edition of our Newsletter. The goal is to offer information to the SSCS membership about recent and forthcoming happenings related to spirituality studies in other parts of the world. We include publications, research efforts, meetings, conferences and innovative  teaching approaches. Any feedback is welcome. 

Diana L. Villegas, Ph.D., editor

COVID-19 Reflection

Former SSCS President David Perrin writes: Novalis, the publisher which put out my last book in September The 20-Minute Retreat, had asked its authors a couple weeks ago to prepare a brief video with a message related to COVID-19.  So, I prepared a little video message this past week.  It’s kind of a "message of hope" related to the crosses in our lives and I thought it might be of interest to SSCS members.  It’s very brief; only about 2 minutes long.  I recorded it in the living room of my house and Novalis produced it into this very short video

Image of woman with child


Biennial SSCS Conference Held in Rome

A meeting jointly sponsored by SSCS and FPTSI (Forum of Spiritual Theology Professors in Italy) titled The Study of Christian Spirituality and Spiritual Theology: Evolving Methodologies was held on September 25-29 at the OFM Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome.

A report on the Conference is available along with photos and more information.

Newsletter of the International Relations Committee - SSCS: No. 1, July 2019

News from IRC members from around the world.

International Conference at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland

An international  conference on 'Spirituality in Society and the Professions' in Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, took place during 16-18 May. The conference was a collaboration between the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE) in Ireland (established by SSCS members Bernadette Flanagan and Michael O'Sullivan), the European Institute for Spirituality in Economics and Society (SPES), based in Budapest and Leuven, and the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in Waterford, Ireland. There were 110 participants from nineteen countries, including Australia, Myanmar, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, the US, Europe, UK, among others.

The Routledge International Handbook on Spirituality in Society and the Professions edited by Laszlo Zsolnai and Bernadette Flanagan was also launched as were three other books and a CD by graduates with whom Bernadette Flanagan and Michael O'Sullivan worked.

Information about the conference is available on the SpIRE website. See also the SpIRE facebook page for posts about the conference. The Irish Jesuits Communications Centre has information about the book on its website.

Several SSCS members presented at the conference including Michael O'Sullivan, Rosanno Zas Friz, and Leonard McMahon.


The conference Scientific Committtee and Organising Committee
The conference Scientific Committtee and Organising Committee
Launching the Routledge Intenational Handbook  on Spirituality in Society and the Professions.  Pictured: Book's contributors who also presented  at the conference. Photo by George Goulding (WIT)
Launching the Routledge Intenational Handbook 
on Spirituality in Society and the Professions. 
Pictured: Book's contributors who also presented 
at the conference. Photo by George Goulding (WIT)


The winner of the 2018 SSCS Founders’ Circle Essay Contest was:

Leonard McMahon, for the essay "John Woolman and the Practice of Truth"
photo of Leonard McMahon

Leonard is currently pursuing his doctorate in theology at the Graduate Theological Union with a focus on spirituality, theology, history, politics, and culture. Leonard holds a MA in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. His interest is in public theology and improving civic engagement, and he is also concerned with how these are affected by the advent of artificial intelligence. Through his nonprofit, Common Ground Dialogue, he works to bring diverse citizens into deeper conversation for the sake of our democracy. 

Leonard was awarded:

  • $250
  • A two-year membership in the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, which includes a subscription to Spiritus
  • Recognition at the Society's annual meeting on Saturday, November 17th
  • Presented his essay at a special session of the AAR/SBL meeting in Denver on Saturday, November 17.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ricardo Franco, for the essay entitled “Spirituality and Border-Crossing: Cassian and Anzaldúa on Prayer, the Spiritual Journey and Spiritual Discernment”
  • Paul Blankenship, for the essay entitled “ Wounds of Love: Homelessness, Suffering and Christian Spirituality”    
  • Elizabeth Anderson, for the essay entitled “Spiritual Discernment in a Deceptive World: Wisdom of Jacob of Serugh”  

On October 13, Philip Sheldrake and Sandra Schneiders delivered keynote addresses at Mysticism andclass="textlink" Contemporary Life: A Conference in Honor of Bernard McGinn. The conference was hosted by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Spirituality (ISCS) at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. The title of Schneiders' address was Experiencing the Risen Jesus: The Biblical Basis of Christian Mysticism. Sheldrake's address was Prayer in the Teachings of Julian of Norwich: A Journey of Desire. The conference began with Theology and Mysticism, a public lecture by David Tracy. [Thanks to David Perrin for the photos.]


David Tracy, Pat McGinn, and Bernard McGinn
David Tracy, Pat McGinn, and Bernard McGinn
Sandra Schneiders, David Tracy, Bernard McGinn and Ronald Rollheiser, President of the Oblate School of Theology
Sandra Schneiders, David Tracy, Bernard McGinn
and Ronald Rollheiser, President of the Oblate School of Theology


On September 21 2018, Pilgrimage of Metropolitan Spirituality by Pan Yi Jung was announced as the Winner of Best Awards of Spirituality of the 8th Association Christian Publishers (ACP) Book Awards in Hong Kong. Here's the book's citation:

Pan Yi Jung, Pilgrimage of Metropolitan Spirituality (《相遇在都會靈程路》). Hong Kong: Christian Communications Ltd., 2016. 

This book starts from the author's profound concern about metropolitan spirituality in Chinese . Therefore, it explores the Chinese urban context and discerns its spiritual needs and challenges. The Spiritual Exercises provides insights within the theoretical framework of each chapter. The language and spiritual practices of the Exercises are applied to the experiences of daily city life. In short, it is a methodological attempt to integrate practical theology with urban spirituality.

Author photo Photo of book

A video titled “A Jesuit with the People” featuring SSCS member Michael O’Sullivan, who is now based in Ireland, is available on YouTube. It narrates Michael’s extensive engagement in campaigns for social justice in Latin America in years past, and his frequent proximity to danger and to martyrs in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and elsewhere. At the conclusion, Michael makes a powerful statement about the need for a spirituality that is fully embodied. The 54-minute film by Peter McDermott may be accessed on YouTube by typing “A Jesuit with the People,” or by going directly to this link

On May 11 and 12, 2018, SSCS members Diana Villegas, Chair of the SSCS International Relations Committee, and Pieter G. R. de Villiers, SSCS Past President, visited with Noel Burke, Rector of St. David's Church, Diocese of Barbados, to offer support to Codrington College in their effort to offer more training in spirituality.  Rev. Burke, SSCS member and Anglican Canon, also teaches spirituality at Codrington andclass="textlink" invited the assistance of SSCS members. 


Photo of SSCS members
Left to right: Diana Villegas, Pieter de Villiers, Susan de Villiers, and Rev. Noel Burke:
Photo of symposium participants
Rev. Burke flanked by his wife Hazel Burke and Rev. Michael Clarke, Principal of Codrington College (in red shirt), together with symposium participants:



In November, SSCS Vice President / President-elect Glen Scorgie of Bethel Seminary San Diego was invited as an official observer to the international conference on Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility, a gathering of 37 participants/presenters and 22 invited observers convened by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican in Rome. According to Bethel University News, "The three-day event featured more than 40 academic papers by leading scientists, prominent health care authorities, government officials, and faith leaders. It also produced a declaration titled “Our Planet, Our Health, Our Responsibility,” signed by conference members including Nobel prizewinners, world-class scientists like Stephen Hawking, and prominent faith leaders like Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals in the U.S." The complete news article is available.


In her recent President's letter to the SSCS membership, Lisa Dahill announced that she will be taking a new position this summer in the Religion Department of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. After ten years of seminary teaching in Ohio, she said that she was excited to return to her geographic and familial roots. Her new contact information is:
California Lutheran University
60 Olsen Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

The following is a press release from Shalem Institute about SSCS member Margaret Benefiel:

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation Appoints New Executive Director: Dr. Margaret Benefiel

Washington, DC—The Board of Directors of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation is pleased
to announce the appointment of Dr. Margaret Benefiel as the Executive Director for Shalem Institute
effective July 1, 2015. A teacher, consultant and scholar in the field of organizational leadership, Dr.
Benefiel brings a unique combination of gifts and skills to this position.

For over two decades, Dr. Benefiel has run her own consulting, speaking, training and coaching
business, Executive Soul, helping leaders and organizations nurture their souls and express their deepest
values institutionally. At the same time, she has taught as adjunct faculty at Andover Newton
Theological School in the area of contemplative leadership. Her consulting, speaking, and teaching have
taken her to most of the U.S., as well as to Ireland, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland
and Kenya.

Dr. Benefiel holds a B.A. in History from Princeton University, an M.A. in Mathematics from
Portland State University, an M.A. in Theology from Earlham School of Religion, and a PhD in
Spirituality from Catholic University of America. She is a graduate of Shalem’s Nurturing the Call:
Spiritual Guidance Program and a member of Shalem’s Society for Contemplative Leadership, a group
of Shalem graduates dedicated to sharing insights, resources and a shared spiritual discipline.

Dr. Benefiel is an accomplished writer who has written extensively on various aspects of
contemplative leadership and spirituality at work, including The Soul of Supervision; The Soul of a
Leader: Finding Your Path to Fulfillment and Success; and Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in
Organizations. She is currently at work on a book about contemplative higher education.
“We are delighted to have someone of Margaret’s stature join Shalem in this capacity,” said
Shalem’s board president, CeCe Balboni. “Her experience and vision excite us as we all trust the Spirit
to guide us into the future.”

The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation is a non-profit, religious organization that has
provided in-depth support for contemplative living and leadership for over 40 years, offering a
wide variety of programs and resources for spiritual directors, clergy, lay leaders and individuals
who want to open themselves more fully to God in their daily lives and work.