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Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship

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  • Program requirements
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The Faculty of Theology at Saint Paul University offers a graduate program leading to a Graduate Diploma in Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship. This diploma is conferred jointly by the Senates of Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa under the terms of the federation agreement between them.

Psychology, the contemporary reference in helping relationships, has replaced confession (Catholicism) and cure of souls (Protestantism) in today’s secular society. At the same time, references to spirituality are increasing. Many are searching for a more authentic life, open to experience, interiority, and silence. In health care, for example, prayer is being introduced to complement conventional practices. In this specific context, spiritual mentorship is poised to play a role in helping relationships.

Within a theological perspective, the program goals are to habilitate students in understanding the nature and dynamics of the contemplative path, to identify the interfaces linking it to human sciences and other spiritual traditions, and also develop one’s capacity to express personal experience according to theoretical content. In short, to provide a framework for future involvement in safe and efficient helping relationships.

Upon diploma completion, the graduate could:

  • Use the training in his/her present professional setting (e.g: psychotherapy, health professional or other);  or
  • Apply to the Master’s in Theology with concentration in Spirituality (part of the credits obtained in the diploma can be recognised).

Subject to approval from the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance and by the Ontario government.

  • BLÉE Fabrice, Associate Professor
    Christian Spirituality;Comparative Studies of Mystical Traditions, Interreligious Dialogue
  • BLOOMQUIST Gregory, Full Professor
    Socio-Rhetorical Analysis; Theology of the New Testament; Classical and Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament; Greek
  • BONNEAU Normand, Retired Professor
    Pauline Studies; Synoptic Gospels; Sunday Lectionary
  • CHIROVSKY Andriy, Full Professor
    Peter and Doris Kule Chair of Eastern Christian Theology and Spirituality Patristic and Later Eastern Christian Theology and Spirituality Studies in the Life and Thought of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (1865-1944) Theology and Spirituality of Byzantine icons Evagrius and the Tradition of Evil Thoughts Studies in the Kyivan Ecclesial Tradition Orthodox-Catholic Ecumenism Spirituality and Health Care
  • CLIFFORD Catherine E., Full Professor / Director of the Graduate Studies
    Ecumenical Studies; Sacramental Theology; Ecclesiology; Vatican II
  • DIONNE Christian, Associate Professor
    New Testament Exegesis; Gospel Interpretation; Mark and Luke; Pauline Literature; Acts of the Apostles; Biblical Languages; Narrative Criticism
  • EATON Heather, Full Professor
    Ecological dimensions of conflict; Religious aspects of conflict and peace; Gender/feminism, peace and conflict research
  • GALADZA Peter, Full Professor
    Kule Family Chair of Eastern Christian Liturgy; Byzantine Liturgy; Eastern Christian Studies
  • MARTÍNEZ DE PISÓN Ramón, Full Professor
    Counselling and Spirituality, Christian Anthropology, sin and evil, death and the afterlife, spirituality, religion and violence, shame and suicide. Highlights the relationship between philosophy, theology and psychology.
  • MARTIN Miriam K, Associate Professor
    Mercy and Presentation Sister Chair of Newfoundland in Religious Education and Catechetics; Religious Education; Liturgy; Feminist Theology; Eco-theology; and Practical Theology
  • MATHIEU Yvan, Associate Professor
    Biblical Studies; Biblical Languages
  • MELCHIN Kenneth R., Full Professor
    Economics Ethics; Business Ethics; Social and Political Ethics; Lonergan Studies
  • MICHAUD Jean-Paul, Emeritus Professor
    Synoptic Gospels; Johannine Studies; Epistle to the Hebrews; New Testament Apocrypha
  • MOOREN Thomas, Full Professor
    Interreligious dialogue; Islamic Studies; Missiology
  • NOBEL Michael-Andreas, Associate Professor
    General Norms; Procedural Law; Formation of Priests and Permanent Deacons
  • PAMBRUN James, Full professor
    Theological Hermeneutics Theology and Modern Science Creation in the First Testament
  • PEELMAN Achiel, Full Professor
    Faith and Culture; Amerindian Culture and Religion;Native American Spirituality; Interreligious Dialogue; Contextual Theologies
  • POWER Myrtle, Assistant Professor
    Religious Education; Catechetics
  • PROVENCHER Normand, Emeritus Professor
    Revelation; Christology; Modernism; Liturgy and Sacramental Theology
  • REDEKOP Vern Neufeld, Full Professor
    Hermeneutical framework for understanding deep-rooted conflict between identity groups; religious based conflict, protesting crowds and police; and the role of identity-based conflict in economic life, methodology of community-based conflict resolution
  • RENKEN John Anthony, Associate Professor
    Temporal Goods; Penal Law; Organization of Particular Churches; Matrimonial Law; Procedural Law
  • ROLL Susan, Associate Professor
    Liturgy; Sacramental Theology
  • SPATAFORA M.S.F. Andrea, Associate Professor
    Research Fields : Apocalypse; Biblical Canon; Canonical Criticism Current Projects : Heavenly Liturgy and Temple in the Apocalypse
  • VAN DEN HENGEL John, Emeritus Professor
    Christology; Hermeneutics
  • VOGELS Walter, Emeritus Professor
    Old Testament; Semiotics

Admission

Candidates must satisfy the following conditions :

  1. Hold an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Theology, or Psychology, or Health Sciences, or a relevant discipline; with an average of at least «B».
  2. Completion of a minimum of 12 credits in Theology or Religious Studies: a pastoral experience may be considered equivalent.  
  3. Comply with one of the following criteria (in each case provide a confirmation letter from the supervisor indicating the duration of the activity):
    • Experience as a spiritual advisor
    • Experience as a psychologist or psychotherapist
    • Psychotherapy experience
    • Pastoral experience
  4. Provide the following documents:
    • Motivation letter (maximum 500 words) and curriculum vitae
    • Two (2) letters of recommendation (professor, advisor, employer, religious community superior, etc.); at least one from a university professor.
  5. Completion of a silent retreat, preferably the one organized by Saint Paul University’s Faculty of Theology.
  6. Pass an interview with the program coordinators to verify the candidate’s objectives and abilities for the program.

Subject to approval from the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance and by the Ontario government.

Program Requirements

Graduate Diploma in Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship

The program consists of five courses (15 credits):

  • THO5112 Self-Understanding: Hermeneutical Theories and Methodological Integration (3 credits)
  • THO5113 Issues and Conditions for a Contemplative Renewal (3 credits)
  • THO5114 Steps on the Path towards Fullness: Methods and Issues (3 credits)
  • THO5115 The Master-Disciple Relationship and Spiritual Mentorship (3 credits)
  • THO5116 Contemplative Theology, Psychotherapies, and Spiritual Traditions: A Dialogical Approach (3 credits)

Subject to approval from the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance and by the Ontario government.

THO 5112 - SELF-UNDERSTANDING: HERMENEUTICAL THEORIES AND METHODOLOGICAL INTEGRATION (3cr.)

This course analyzes several methods geared towards self-understanding and questions their limits and strengths. Religious experience holds within it some measure of self-understanding. What are the links between the different types of consciousness identified in philosophy (e.g., Brentano, Husserl) and the notion of consciousness that is specific to contemplative theology? Religious experience is not to be confused with its articulation which depends on a particular psychological, cultural, and theological context. What are the issues related to this methodological distinction in the process of self-understanding?

THO 5113 - ISSUES AND CONDITIONS FOR A CONTEMPLATIVE RENEWAL (3cr.)

This course examines several current controversial issues surrounding contemplative theology and related theological and pastoral issues (e.g., pantheistic drift, negative relationship with the body, dangers of self-absorption and of a mind empty of thoughts, subversive attitude towards institutions). Exploring these issues can establish a link to similar controversies in the past, and allows reflection on the conditions necessary for a modern contemplative renewal, using language adapted to a secular and pluralistic society.

THO 5114 - STEPS ON THE PATH TOWARDS FULLNESS: METHODS AND ISSUES (3cr.)

This course deepens the “mapping” done by mystical theologians (e.g., M. Eckhart, Theresa of Avila, Y. Raguin) of the road that leads to Fullness (unio mystica). What are the strengths and weaknesses of these “maps,” their commonalities and differences, their contribution to human knowledge and its spiritual dimension? Among the questions to be studied: What type of healing and what relationship to suffering is inherent in it? What is the place of grace as it relates to personal effort and the use of meditation methods? Are there any basic spiritual diseases?

THO 5115 - THE MASTER-DISCIPLE RELATIONSHIP AND SPIRITUAL MENTORSHIP (3cr.)

Contemplative theology has traditionally recognized the need for a guide when one embarks on the spiritual path. Such an insistence can be viewed with suspicion in an era which questions authority and received traditions. How may the history and nature of the master-disciple relationship be understood today? Conversely, many put their trust in any self-proclaimed guide. How may one avoid falling into dependency or into a cult? Different models of guide – master, director, accompanier, soul friend, mentor, and counsellor – will be explored. What points of convergence may exist between this relationship and other forms of spiritual authority – pastor, priest, guru, etc.?

THO 5116 - CONTEMPLATIVE THEOLOGY, PSYCHOTHERAPIES, AND SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS: A DIALOGICAL APPROACH (3cr.)

This course deepens the study of spiritual experience and its attendant need for mentorship in dialogue with secular and pluralistic society. Among the questions to be studied: What is the nature of a dialogical approach, its promises and implications (e.g., Buber, Panikkar)? What issues arise in a social context in which interest in spirituality rubs shoulders with psychotherapies and Easter meditation? How do they put theology itself into question? What are the similarities between the main meditation methods, Christian or otherwise? Do they lead to the same experience? If so, what is the value of the theological content?

THO 5512 - COMPRÉHENSION DE SOI : THÉORIES HERMÉNEUTIQUES ET INTÉGRATION MÉTHODOLOGIQUE (3cr.)

Ce cours analyse plusieurs méthodologies pour une compréhension de soi et questionne leurs limites et leurs forces. L’expérience religieuse porte en elle une certaine conscience de soi. Quels liens y a-t-il entre les divers types de conscience identifiés en philosophie (ex. Brentano, Husserl) et la notion de conscience propre à la théologie contemplative? En outre, l’expérience religieuse ne se confond pas avec l’articulation de cette même expérience qui lui est inhérente et qui dépend d’un contexte psychologique, culturel et théologique particulier. Quels sont les enjeux de cette distinction méthodologique dans le processus de connaissance de soi ?

THO 5513 - ENJEUX ET CONDITIONS D’UN RENOUVEAU CONTEMPLATIF (3cr.)

Ce cours examine plusieurs points de controverse actuelle entourant la théologie contemplative et les enjeux théologiques et pastoraux qui s’y rattachent (ex. la dérive panthéiste, le rapport négatif au corps, les dangers de l’auto-absorption et d’un esprit vidé de ses pensées, le rapport subversif à l’institution). Approfondir ces éléments permet de faire le lien avec les controverses du passé du même type et de réfléchir aux conditions d’un renouveau contemplatif pour aujourd’hui, à partir d’un langage adapté à notre société séculière et pluraliste.

THO 5514 - ÉTAPES SUR LA VOIE DE LA PLÉNITUDE : MÉTHODES ET ENJEUX (3cr.)

Ce cours approfondit la «cartographie» qu’ont établie des théologiens mystiques (ex. M. Eckhart, Thérèse d’Avila, Y. Raguin) de la voie qui mène à la Plénitude (unio mystica). Il permet ainsi d’établir les forces et les limites de ces itinéraires, leurs points communs et leurs divergences, leur apport à la connaissance de l’humain et de sa dimension spirituelle. Parmi les questions qui seront examinées : Quel type de guérison et quel rapport à la souffrance lui est-il inhérent ? Comment situe-t-il le rôle de la «grâce» par rapport aux efforts personnels et à l’emploi de méthodes de méditation ? Y a-t-il des maladies foncièrement spirituelles ?

THO 5515 - RELATION MAÎTRE-DISCIPLE ET MENTORAT SPIRITUEL (3cr.)

La théologie contemplative a toujours reconnu la nécessité d’un guide dès lors qu’on s’engage sur la voie spirituelle. Cet impératif peut être suspect dans une société qui remet en question l’autorité et les traditions établies. Comment comprendre l’histoire et la nature de la relation maître-disciple dans le contexte actuel? À l’inverse, beaucoup donnent leur confiance à n’importe quel guide autoproclamé. Comment prévenir tout dérapage sectaire et de dépendance? Différents modèles de guide – maître, directeur, accompagnateur, ami spiritual, mentor, conseiller – seront approfondis. Quels rapports y a-t-il entre cette relation au guide et d’autres formes d’autorité spirituelle – pasteur, prêtre, gourou, etc.?

THO 5516 - THÉOLOGIE CONTEMPLATIVE, PSYCHOTHÉRAPIES ET TRADITIONS SPIRITUELLES : UNE APPROCHE DIALOGIQUE (3cr.)

Ce cours approfondit l’étude de l’expérience spirituelle et de son exigence d’accompagnement dans un dialogue avec la société séculière et pluraliste. Parmi les questions qui seront examinées : Quels sont la nature, les promesses et les implications d’une approche dialogique (ex. Buber, Panikkar)? Quels sont les enjeux d’un contexte social où l’intérêt pour la spiritualité côtoie celui pour les psychothérapies et les méditations orientales, et de quelle façon interpellent-ils la théologie? Quelles sont les similarités entre les principales méthodes de méditation, chrétiennes et autres ? Conduisent-elles à la même expérience ; si oui, quelle est la valeur du contenu théologique ?

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