"The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all strings
Which are touched in Love
—Mechthild of Magdeburg
At San Francisco Theological Seminary, we celebrate the depth and beauty of the human spirit in its many cultural and religious expressions. We understand spiritual direction as a way to participate in mending of hearts and society. Our spirituality programs rest on the belief that we are called to awaken our hearts to others through practice, study, and community.
These sessions are designed for both diploma and certificate programs. Diploma students will sign up for 1.5 academic credits. Certificate students will sign up for 0 credits. All classes are Credit/No Credit. To learn more about the requirements for and differences between the Diploma and Certificate, click on the respective links.
Contemplative Listening is a meditative discipline that helps us listen closely to what is said and not said. It is listening from the heart to the heart of another. In larger and smaller groups, we will engage a variety of listening and other contemplative practices that help us drop into an open space where another can be listened into speech. This session is offered as the pre-requisite for further work in our programs in the Art of Spiritual Direction. This session has the option of 1.5 credit hours additional academic study for those who are working toward a diploma. This session is also open to the wider community as a Spiritual Retreat.
This session is the continuation of the Contemplative Listening course and is required of new Certificate and Diploma students. It provides basic theory and practice for the work of spiritual direction. In addition to daily supervised practice sessions each afternoon, there will be a panel on multi-cultural and multi-racial issues in spiritual direction. Participation in this session is a prerequisite before spiritual direction students can begin to practice spiritual direction.
This class emphasizes the importance of personal formation to ground the vocation of spiritual direction. We will reflect on practices we know and explore new styles of practice. Deepening our relationship to the divine Beloved, we become more compassionate and hospitable to the people and situations we encounter. This class will introduce theological principles of formation and experiment with several kinds of spiritual practice, including the ancient wisdom of “guarding the heart,” contemplative practices of the Black Church, Africana spirituality, Asian-American spirituality, spiritual practice and the body, and using art as a spiritual practice.
A leading theologian, Wendy Farley has written extensively on women theologians and mystics, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices.
Professor Farley received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988. Her teaching and research interests include women theologians, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, spirituality and social justice, classical texts, and contemplative practices. Her first book, Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy (Westminster John Knox, 1990) considers the problem of evil by focusing on suffering rather than sin and abandons the forensic model of God in favor of one emphasizing compassion as a dominant metaphor for the divine. A second work, Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World (Penn State: 1996), also takes up the relationships between ethical and philosophical issues in religion. In 2005, she published The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth (Westminster John Knox), which combines attention to contemplative practices, folk traditions, and inter-religious dialogue to reflect on suffering and transformation. Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation (Westminster John Knox, 2011), reflects on the meaning of Christian faith and tradition for women, queers, and others that the church has had difficulty recognizing as part of the body of Christ. She also recently edited (with Emily Holmes) a collection of essays called Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion.
Her latest book, “The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics” (Westminster John Knox, 2015), explores the spirituality of medieval mystics Marguerite Porete, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Julian of Norwich. In Farley’s words, “These women have important things to tell us about our faith, the same as contemporary contemplatives, with the emphasis on divine love.”
Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, Professor of Spiritual Life and Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality (retired) is a pastoral theologian with a special interest in Christian spirituality. Her writing and teaching has focused on engaging pastoral leaders in spiritual practices in such a way that they can foster them in their congregations and organizations. She collaborated in the founding of the MDiv Concentration in Christian Spirituality, the Diplomas in the Art of Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation Studies, several emphases in the DMin including Pastor as Spiritual Leader, and the Certificate in Trauma and Spiritual Care. She continues to teach in these programs as time permits. She also serves on the doctoral faculty in Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Dr. Liebert is a past president of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. A member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a religious congregation dedicated to the full development of the human person through various educational and social ministries, Sr. Liebert was the first Roman Catholic to hold a tenured faculty position at SFTS and the first Roman Catholic to serve as Dean of a Presbyterian Seminary. She currently serves in formation for her religious congregation.
Daeseop Daniel Yi, faculty advisor for Korean students at San Francisco Theological Seminary, is dedicated to understanding how humans can be their authentic selves and live their lives fully through various contemplative practices. This wholistic transformation and growth is interconnected with communal and social change. His main desire is to help people who are hungry for spirituality to find themselves and their vocations through spiritual direction (individual and group), supervision, various spiritual classes, and retreats.
Yi earned a Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality at Graduate Theological Union. He has been on the staff of SFTS’s Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program since 2008. He has also worked for many years as a pastor and chief of staff at a local church and in a campus ministry for young adults. His pursuit to integrate the discipline of psychology and other traditions (Buddhist mindfulness and body movement) with Christianity has helped others to be whole and to live their lives in an integral way.
Aside from giving spiritual direction and supervising spiritual directors, Yi has been teaching classes in lectio divina, centering prayer, spiritually informed pastoral care, spiritual formation, clearness committee, discernment and prayer, Spiritual Exercises, and other subjects at SFTS, Oikos University, New College Berkeley, and Journey Groups. He is interested in living ‘in between’ so that he can be a bridge between America and Korea and be creative in both cultures.
Maria’s training in Inner Relationship Focusing & Intuition complements a PhD in Christian Spirituality earned from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
A teacher for the last thirty years, Maria Tattu Bowen has more than twenty five years of experience as a spiritual director and retreat leader, and more than twenty as a supervisor and trainer of spiritual directors.
In addition to her work with Together in the Mystery, Maria serves as the co-director of supervision in the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction Program at San Francisco Theological Seminary and teaches in both Fairfield University’s Spiritual Direction Formation Program and CenterQuest School of Spiritual Direction.
Maria maintains a private practice in both spiritual direction and supervision in person in Morro Bay, California, and via telephone and Skype.
Maria has contributed essays to such publications as Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging Holy Mystery; Sacred is the Call: Formation and Transformation in Spiritual Direction; and Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry.
Susan S. Phillips has served as Executive Director at New College Berkeley since 1994, and prior to this role was the Academic Dean. Dr. Phillips is keenly interested in how we live our faith in daily life, drawing insight from the diverse fields of the social sciences, biblical spirituality, and practical theology. She is a sociologist and meets regularly with individuals for spiritual direction. She teaches in a wide range of contexts, serves as supervisor for spiritual directors, and consults for Christian organizations. In addition to being a regular contributor to summer classes at Regent College, she teaches at the Graduate Theological Union, Fuller Theological Seminary (Northern California), and San Francisco Theological Seminary (Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction). Dr. Phillips sat on the Board of Governors at Regent College for eight years and on the editorial boards of Radix, Presence, and Reflective Practice. Her most recent book is The Cultivated Life: From Ceaseless Striving to Receiving Joy. With her husband Steve, she worships at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, and has served there as an elder.
I facilitate wholeness for people committed to coming fully alive, especially youngish adults, seminarians, the LGBTQ community, and spiritual seekers, whether or not they affiliate with any faith.
My path started at a conservative church in which I was ordained as a minister. When my views expanded beyond the theology I had been taught, I returned to school and graduated with an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology. I became an educator and spiritual director at an interfaith spirituality center that is part of a healthcare network. Since moving to California, I have completed certificate programs in interfaith spiritual direction, supervision of spiritual directors, and hypnotherapy and have transferred my ordination to an interfaith community, The Chaplaincy Institute. I also serve as Executive Director of the Marin Interfaith Council, a local nonprofit that celebrates faith, advocates justice and builds community.
I am particularly interested in how we can become more whole, happy, and aware in a way that enhances our relationships, communities, and the planet. Of course, this is the work of a lifetime. No one can do this work perfectly or alone, nor can anyone hope to remain authentic during the process without a sense of humor and humility. My hope is that through this online community we will make some progress as we reflect, connect, laugh, heal, and create together. I invite you to explore the topics listed in the right-hand navigation and add your comments, questions, and creative responses to any posting.
My intention is that we engage each other with an open mind, an open heart, and a willing spirit to be awakened and liberated, so that, more fully alive, we become what the world needs. We become what we've been waiting for.