Finley, Au and Johnson among speakers for spring events on topics of Spirituality

Spring Speakers

Pictured (left to right, top to bottom): Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, Ernesto Vega, Dakini Yuan Miao, Dr. James Finley, Drs. Wilkie and Noreen Cannon Au, Douglas Leal, Christie Havey Smith

This spring, the Center for Religion and Spirituality will continue its series of public workshops in spirituality, ministry and theology. “These workshops will be led by an impressive cast of instructors on topics that are designed to nurture the participants’ spiritual and theological growth,” explains CRS Assistant Director Elsy Arévalo. You can read more about each workshop and event on Extension’s Calendar of Events.

Here is a brief synopsis of what’s to come:

February 15: “Asi en la tierra como en el cielo: la espiritualidad para la vida diaria” (“On Earth as it is in Heaven: Spirituality in Everyday Life”)
A workshop with Ernesto Vega. Participants will explore some of the ways we can be more aware of our relationship with God in daily life and how we can deepen awareness of living with purpose, growing self-esteem (humility) and service (transcendence). This workshop will be conducted in Spanish.

Ernesto Vega is currently the coordinator of Spanish Adult Faith Formation Ministry for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He obtained a BA from St. John’s Seminary College with a double major, one in Philosophy and the other one in Spanish Literature. Ernesto also obtained his Masters in Marital and Family Therapy from LMU and wrote his master thesis on Mexican Immigrant Families in Clinical Psychotherapy.

February 22: “Phoenix Rising: Spirituality of Healing” and March 1: “Phoenix Rising: Spirituality of Joy”
Two workshops with Dakini Yuan Miao. Participants will be introduced to the teachings of Yuan Miao of the Himalayan Dakini lineage, common to both Newari Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. Phoenix Rising symbolizes our transcendence over limited human concepts and attachments to the three-dimensional world. Participants will learn to use Phoenix Rising energy with the sacred tools of mantra, mudra, visualization, intention, and Himalayan Healing Energy practices.

Yuan Miao, born in China to a family with a rich Chinese and Tibetan spiritual, was influenced both by her Zen Master grandfather and her Tibetan grandmother, who raised her from infancy and served as her primary spiritual teacher.

March 29: “The Writer’s Key: A Contemplative Approach to Unlocking the Story Within”
A workshop with Christie Havey Smith and Jen Jones Donatelli. Participants will learn how the art and act of writing can be a reflective tool, unlocking individual creativity and discovering one’s true voice and purpose.

Christie Havey Smith is a Los Angeles-based author who specializes in narrative non-fiction literature. Christie studied television and film writing at Ohio University, and her first manuscripts were screenplays. Christie brought her passion for the human condition back to academia where she studied spirituality and earned a Masters of Arts in Theology from Loyola Marymount University. Jen Jones Donatelli is the founder of Creative Groove, an online education hub that offers affordable courses in all things creative. Along with contributing to various publications, Jen has authored more than 45 middle-grade non-fiction books for publishers like Enslow Publishing and Capstone Press. Her copywriting portfolio is wide and includes clients ranging from women’s websites to B2B to movie studios.

May 3: “Gratitude as a Spiritual Pathway”
A workshop with Dr. Wilkie Au and Dr. Noreen Cannon Au. The practice of gratitude offers a daily spiritual pathway for active people. Based on their book, The Grateful Heart, this workshop will offer guidelines for growing in gratefulness and for dealing with common obstacles to grateful living.

Wilkie Au, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount. His By Way of the Heart: Toward a Holistic Christian Spirituality won the 1990 Book Award of the College Theology Society and his Enduring Heart: Spirituality for the Long Haul won an award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada in 2001. Noreen Cannon Au, Ph.D. is a Jungian Analyst in private practice, as well as a faculty member of the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles and the department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount. A former member of the editorial boards of Human Development and Psychological Perspectives, she writes and lectures extensively on the integration of Christian spirituality and depth psychology.

June 7: “Co-creators with God: Developing a Spirituality of Work”
A workshop with Douglas Leal. In this workshop, participants will draw upon scripture, spiritual writers, and over 100 years of Catholic social teaching to explore a spirituality of work, and will consider some practical ways to integrate work life with faith life.

Douglas Leal is the coordinator for Adult Faith Formation and Young Adult Ministry in the Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He also works as a professional actor and director and serves as the artistic director of the Ad Hoc Players, a Christian improv troupe. Douglas holds a MA in pastoral ministry from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. His skill-building book for lectors, Stop Reading and Start Proclaiming!, was recently selected by the Congregational Resource Group as a recommended resource for communities seeking to improve their worship.

June 28: “Mystical Sobriety: A Retreat Experience”
A workshop with Dr. James Finley. In this retreat experience, participants will explore the teachings of the mystics that are present in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous – teachings, Dr. Finley explains, “for all of us who are addicted to habits of the mind and heart that hold us back from experiencing the spiritual fulfillment that we long for.” Time will be given for silent group meditation, personal reflection and discussion of the themes presented.

James Finley, Ph.D. lived as a monk at the cloistered Trappist monastery of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, where the world-renowned monk and author, Thomas Merton, was his spiritual director. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Finley is the author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, The Contemplative Heart and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God.

In addition to the above, the LMU Department of Theological Studies will host the second annual Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M. Lecture in Spirituality on March 20 featuring Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University.  Titled “Creation: Is God’s Charity Broad Enough for Bears?,” Sr. Johnson will “probe the meaning of creation, to invigorate ethical behavior that cares for plants and animals with a passion integral to faith’s passion for the living God.”  The lecture will be free and open to the public.  Click here to learn more.



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