Faculty of Theology
theology@ustpaul.ca
Telephone: 613-236-1393
1-800-637-6859
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Graduate Diploma in
Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship

 

To see the description of the program of study, click here.

 

For Whom is this Diploma Intended?

For students in theology who have taken basic courses in spirituality and wish to deepen their knowledge in this area in its contemplative dimension.

For students in counselling and spirituality or for professionals in psychology who wish to deepen the spiritual dimension.

For all people who meet the criteria for admission.

Note that the program is open to both believers and non-believers.

 

 

Program Structure

This is a program of one year’s duration (from August to May). It consists of five (5) courses offered on campus (two in the Fall, two in the Winter, and one in the Spring) in the form of seminars in order to optimize interaction between students and professor. The program cohort is limited to fifteen people in order to assure group discussion and learning.

To allow for working professionals and people living at a distance from Ottawa to attend, four (4) courses (two in the Fall and two in the Winter) will be offered over three (3) weekends (from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday), or one weekend every two or three weeks. The fifth course will be an intensive that takes place in May spread over two weeks, from Monday to Friday.

 

Objectives

For over fifty years, contemplative theology has been neglected in faculties of theology. Today its relevance is being recovered in a society marked by a search for interiority and the need for a spiritual accompaniment appropriate to such a quest. The Graduate Diploma will deepen the nature and dynamism of the spiritual path by examining contemporary questions on religious phenomena along with the great writers and texts of Christian mysticism.  

Nowadays, many people are recovering a thirst for silence (a return to nature or to the desert, Christian or Buddhist meditation retreats, therapies, psychoanalysis, etc.). Silence is the privileged centre for the happiness of simplicity, for introspection and for the encounter with the transcendent, not to mention creativity and service of others. To be able to accompany another person along the way of silence requires not only that one have had the same experience, but also an ability to make sense of such experience by means of points of reference that are tried and true.

In psychoanalysis, the place for formation is found in the relationship between the analyst and the client. It is necessary to experience this place of silence in order to integrate the spirit of the analysis. In the same way, the students must experience silence where they come into relationship with the divine, if they are to appropriate the subtleties of spiritual mentorship. That is why a prerequisite for this program is participation in an intensive silent retreat.

Contemporary spiritual movements frequently lack rigour and can be abusive. This program offers a framework for advanced study and understanding that guarantees discernment and respect for the dignity of the person.

This is not a professional program. It does not lead to a practice of mentorship through field placements. What it does offer, by contrast, is a deep, rigorous knowledge of the spiritual path and the need for mentorship. It aims to prepare students to commit to training in this area. From a theological perspective, the program will empower students to understand the nature and dynamic of the contemplative path, to identify the connections with the sciences and with other spiritual traditions, as well as to develop the capacity to articulate experience in the light of this theoretical content. As a result, the Graduate Diploma gives theology itself an opportunity to move into contemporary interdisciplinary debates on spiritual experience and its impact on human development.

 

Spirit of the Program

In today’s secular society, the contemporary point of reference in the helping profession is psychology, which has replaced confession (Catholicism) and the cure of souls (Protestantism). At the same time, references to spirituality are increasing. Many people are searching for a more authentic life, open to experience, interiority and silence. In health care, for example, prayer, yoga and meditation are being introduced to complement conventional practices. The neurosciences are also taking an interest in the impact of spiritual practices on the brain and metabolism. In this specific context, spiritual mentorship is poised to play a role in the helping professions.

If, however, spiritual coaching is undergoing a growing success, and many people are becoming open to contemplative practices, few are aware of the rich contemplative tradition of Christianity. This program responds to a real need: that of giving access to the great teachers and writings of Christian mysticism in order to be able to draw from them such elements as may further spiritual discernment today. The program emphasizes contemplative spirituality, which is centred on the principle that the divine takes the initiative in the person and gives grace in a distinctive way through inner silence.

 

Steering Committee

  • Dr. Fabrice Blée
  • The Rev. Kevin Flynn

Logistics assistant

  • Edith Bélanger

Managing Committee

  • Flavie Beaudet
  • Yvan Clouthier
  • Dr. Denis Dencause, omi
  • Dr. Denise Desrochers
  • Carol Edgar
  • Denise Lussier-Russel
  • Denis Paquette
  • Dr. Mark Slatter
  • The Rev. Gregor Sneddon

Academic Committee and Partners

  • Pierre de Béthune, OSB, Benedictine Monastery of Clerlande (Belgium)
  • Fr. François-Joseph, OSCO, Trappist Abbey, Val Notre-Dame, St-Jean-de-Matha (Canada)
  • Dr. Colette Poggi, Marseille University (France)
  • Dr. Gérard Siegwalt, University of Strasbourg (France)
  • Yves Girard, ocso, Trappist Abbey, Val Notre-Dame, St-Jean-de-Matha (Canada);
  • Jack Burnett, Former Federal MP and ex-Minister of the Government of Canada (Canada).