Elizabeth Liebert, SNJM, Ph.D.

Graduate School of Theology

Photo of Elizabeth Liebert, SNJM, Ph.D.


Ph.D., Religion and Personality, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 1986 

M.A., Religion and Personality, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 1983

M.A., Religious Studies, Gonzaga University Spokane, WA, 1975

B.A., Chemistry, Fort Wright College, Spokane, WA, 1968


Marin Campus
E: elizabeth_liebert@redlands.edu

View CV

About Elizabeth 

Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, SNJM, has seen significant changes in how spiritual disciplines are embraced since joining San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1987. Liebert has helped seminary students expand their understanding of spiritual formation and prayer from a ritualistic recital of spoken words in worship to a wide range of community and individual actions and practices. In addition to establishing formal courses of study in spirituality, Liebert has authored and co-authored six highly affirmed books on spiritual disciplines with her most recent book being Soul of Discernment: A Spiritual Practice for Communities and Institutions.

A Roman Catholic Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Liebert is the first Catholic sister to have served as dean of a Presbyterian seminary. While surprising to some at first glance, Liebert’s election as dean was based on her extensive years of teaching at SFTS. Liebert looks forward to discovering how each class she teaches forms into a new community with its own mix of personalities and experiences. She waits for that moment when the day’s class focus catches fire in a student’s heart or when a new community insight emerges from a discussion. “It’s always a gift.” Liebert said. “You can hope for that moment, you can prepare for that moment, but it can’t be ordered into existence.”
Since her retirement from full-time teaching, Liebert continues to serve as an Affiliate Faculty at SFTS/Redlands, the Jesuit School of Theology and Lancaster Theological Seminary, as a member of the Doctoral Faculty at the Graduate Theological Union and as formation director for her religious congregation.


Professor Liebert is an invited speaker this summer at an international symposium sponsored by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) at the Cave of St. Ignatius at Manresa in Barcelona. Dr. Liebert will speak on “Spiritual Exercises and Gender.” Please visit here for more information.


Courses Taught

Discernment in Systems DMSP-6062


2009-13 Dean of the Seminary and Vice President for Academic Affairs, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA

1993- Professor of Spiritual Life, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA

1987- 2001, 2013- Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA

1990- Core Doctoral Faculty, Graduate Theological Union. Berkeley, CA. Convener, Christian Spirituality, 1995-97, 2005-2007

1987-93 Associate Professor of Spiritual Life, Director of Program in Christian Spirituality, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA

1982-87 Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, St. Thomas Theological Seminary, Denver, CO

1985-87 Department Chair, Pastoral Theology, St. Thomas Theological Seminary, Denver, CO

1982-87 Director, Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (from 1982-85, Master of Arts in Pastoral Care), St. Thomas Theological Seminary, Denver, CO

1981 Teaching Assistant: Theological Foundations of Pastoral Care; Sexuality and Pastoral Practice. Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN

1981-82 Supervisor: Field Education. Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN

1980-81 Supervisor: Theological Foundations of Pastoral Care

1975-79 Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Fort Wright College, Spokane, WA

1977-79 Director, Christian Ministries Graduate Program, Fort Wright College, Spokane, WA


2014- Sisters of the Holy Names Congregational Leadership Team, Permanent Consultant on Membership, Charism, and Spirituality

2013- Sisters of the Holy Names Director of Novices, US-Ontario and Manitoba Provinces

2004-15 St. Anselm Parish, Special Minister of Holy Communion

1984-87 Christ the King Parish, Denver, CO, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Spiritual Director; Lector, Eucharistic Minister

1981-83 Holy Name Parish, Nashville, TN, Co-Director, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, teacher or co-teacher of various adult education programs, Lector, Eucharistic Minister, counseling and spiritual direction

1975-79 Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Consultation and numerous short courses of one to twelve sessions for individual parishes, the Catholic Diocese Catechist Training and Permanent Deacon Training Programs

1968-75 St. Aloysius Parish, Spokane, WA, Junior High School Teacher, with specialization in Mathematics, Science and Religion. Washington State Standard Certificate #159507C

1976-79 Sisters of the Holy Names, Province of Washington, Formation Team

1977- Individual clients for counseling, spiritual direction and/or supervision of spiritual direction



The Soul of Discernment: A Spiritual Practice for Communities and other Institutions. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2015.

The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2008.

Exploring Christian Spirituality: Essays in Honor of Sandra M. Schneiders (Co-edited with Bruce Lescher). New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2006.

The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women (Co-authored with Mary Garvin and Katherine Dyckman). New York: Paulist Press, 2001.

A Retreat With The Psalms: Resources for Personal and Communal Prayer (Co-authored with John Endres). New York: Paulist Press, 2001.

Changing Life Patterns: Adult Development in Spiritual Direction, Expanded Edition. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2001.

Changing Life Patterns: Adult Development in Spiritual Direction Paulist Press, 1992.

“The Process of Change in Spiritual Direction: A Structural-Developmental Perspective.” Ph.D. dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1986. Committee Chair: Peggy Way. University Microfilms #87-03882.

Chapters and Essays

"The Spiritual Life with the Help of Favorite Poets," essay in The Spiritual Life, edited by Allan Cole. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2011, pp. 77-86.

“Ignatius of Loyola, the Spiritual Exercises” Chapter in Christian Spirituality: The Classics, ed Arthur Holder, pp. 197-208. Oxford: Routledge, 2009.

“Discernment for Our Times: A Practice with Postmodern Implications,” Studies in Spirituality 18 (2008): 333-355. Republished in Transforming Spirituality: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Studies in Spirituality, ec. Rossano Zas Fritz (Peeters, 2016).

“Spiritual Formation as Integrative Practice” Religious Studies News 24:14 (March 2007), ix. Spotlight Issue on Theological Education, “Forming the Theological Imagination: Strategies of Integration in Theological Education.”

"Practice," Chapter in Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality, ed. Arthur Holder, pp. 496-514. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

"Supervision as Widening the Horizons." Chapter in Supervision of Spiritual Direction: Engaging in Holy Mystery, ed. Mary Rose Bumpus and Rebecca Langer, pp. 123-148. Harrisburg: Morehouse, 2005.

"Limits of Adaptability: The Eighteenth Annotation in Developmental Perspective," The Way, Special Number 2003: Psychology and Ignatian Spirituality, (July 2003):107-123.

"Discernment and Strategic Decision Making" with André Delbecq, John Mostyn, Paul Nutt and Gordan Walter. Also published as "Discernment and Strategic Decision-Making: Reflections for a Spirituality of Organizational Leadership" in Spiritual Intelligence at Work: Meaning,, Metaphor, and Morals, ed. Moses L. Pava. Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Vol. 5, pp.139-174. New York and London: Elsevier, Ltd., 2004.

"Perspectives on the Ministry of Spiritual Direction: One Person's View," New Theology Review, 16, 1 (February 2003): 44-56.

"The Role of Practice in the Study of Christian Spirituality," Spiritus 2 (spring 2002): 30-49. Reprinted in Minding the Spirit, ed. Elizabeth Dreyer and Mark Burrows, pp. 79-99. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

"Discernment: The Art of Finding God's Call in Everyday Life," Hungryhearts 9 (Summer 2002), 8. Reprinted in Lord Teaches to Pray: A Guide to Prayer. Louisville: Office in Spiritual Formation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), n.d., "Seeking the Will of God," 22.

“Seasons and Stages: Models and Metaphors of Human Development.” Chapter in In Her Own Time: Women and Developmental Issues in Pastoral Care, ed. Jeanne Stevenson Moessner, 19-41. Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2000.

“Biblical Prayer for Preachers (And Other Christians).” Chapter in The Hidden Spirit: Discovering the Spirituality of Institutions ed. James F. Cobble and Charles M. Elliot, pp. 44-51. Matthews, NC: Christian Ministry Resources, 1999.

“Linking Faith and Justice: Remarks on the Occasion of Installation,” Christian Spirituality Bulletin, 5 (spring 1997): 19-21 and Pastoral Psychology, 46 (January 1998): 207-212.

“Accompaniment in Ministry: Supervision as Spiritual Formation,” Journal of Supervision in Training in Ministry, 18 (1997): 20-31.

“Coming Home to Themselves: Women’s Spiritual Care,” Chapter in Through the Eyes of Women: Insights for Pastoral Care. ed. Jeanne Stevenson Moessner, pp. 257-289. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

“The Spirituality of the Teacher,” (Co-authored with Andrew Dreitcer) The Way Supplement 84 (1995): 38-46.

“The Thinking Heart: Developmental Dynamics in Etty Hillesum’s Diaries,” Pastoral Psychology 43 (July 1995): 393-409.

“The Eighteenth Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises: A Developmental Perspective” and “Contemporary Adaptations of the Eighteenth Annotation,” in A Symposium: Ignatian Spirituality: Summary of Proceedings, Guelph Ontario, Loyola House, 1994: 12-31 and 102-113.

“Spiritual Formation in a Reformed Context,” Justice and Spirituality: The First Consultation on Practical Theology, Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry Studies in Korea, 1992: 88-104.

“Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Seekers: Establishing a Personal Spiritual Discipline” Pacific Theological Review 23 (fall 1989/spring 1990): 5-19.

“Ignatian Spirituality.” Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Abingdon, 1990.

“Eyes to See and Ears to Hear: Identifying Religious Experience in Pastoral Spiritual Guidance,” Pastoral Psychology 37 (summer 1989): 297-310.

“The Critical Years: A Response,” Horizons 14 (fall 1987): 343-363.

“That You May Believe: The Fourth Gospel and Structural Developmental Theory,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 14 (April 1984): 67-73.

“Religious Community as Healing Community,” Review For Religious 40 (March 1981): 210-218.

Awards, Honors, and Grants

2015 Newhall Teaching Fellowship (with Beth Anderson)

2014 Visiting Scholar, Holy Names University, February

2013 Resident Scholar, Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, Fall

2011 ATS Women in Leadership Conference, Pittsburgh, October

2011-13 Wabash Dean’s Colloquy, Crawfordsville, IN, June

2011, Corpus Christi, TX. March, 2012, and San Francisco Theological Seminary, April, 2013

2012 Newhall Teaching Fellowship (with Daeseop Yi)

2009 Newhall Teaching Fellowship (with Elizabeth Ford)

2008 Joseph Veale Chair in Christian Spirituality, Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin, Ireland

2007 Newhall Teaching Fellowship (with Kang Hack Lee)

2001 Newhall Teaching Fellowship (with Nancy Wiens and Robert Russell.)

1989 Association for Theological Schools, Younger Scholars Research Grant

1987 Visiting Scholar, Ghost Ranch Conference Center

1979 Newhall Teaching Fellowship (with Andrew Dreitcer)

1979 Kenneth Willis Clark Student Essay Award, Society of Biblical Literature Southeast Region

1979-82 University Tuition Scholarship

1968-72 National Science Foundation Tuition Grant



2015 “Accessible Spiritual Practices to Aid in Recovery from Moral Injury,” Workshop for Pathways to Hope for Moral Injury and Other Invisible Wounds: National Conference on Moral Injury and Mental Health, Kansas City, October 28-3

2014 Inaugural Lecture, Interdisciplinary Lecture Series, SFTS, September

2014 Board of Trustees, Holy Names University. Mission Integration Committee

2014 Participant, Consultation on Moral Injury, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX

2014- Permanent Consultant, Congregational Leadership Team, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
2014- Director of Novices, U.S.-Ontario and Manitoba Provinces, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary

2014 “Blue Sapphire of the Mind: A Response to Douglas E. Christie,” Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, San Diego, CA November

2014 “The Spiritual Life with the Help of Contemporary Poets,” Inaugural Lecture, Interdisciplinary Lecture Series, San Francisco Theological Seminary, September 3

2014 “Clearness Committee: A Continuing Education Retreat for Spiritual Directors,” San Francisco Theological Seminary, July 22-25

2014 “Spirituality for Organizations: The Case for Discernment,” Heartland Lecture Series, Omaha Seminary Foundation, Heartland KS, April 28-29

2014 “Community Discernment: Bringing to Life the Vision Statement and Strategic Plan,” Consultation for Holy Names University, Oakland, February 25-27

2013 “Benedictine and Ignatian Views of Discernment in Conversation,” Faculty Conversation, Benedictine Institute, St. John’s University, December 9

2013 “Discerning the Way,” Workshop/Retreat, Collegeville Institute and School of Theology, St. John’s University, November 8
2013- Membership Task Force, Sisters of the Holy Names
2013 Social Discernment, Collegeville Institute Resident Scholars Seminar, October 1

2011 Panelist, “Spiritual Formation—Rigorous, Transformative, Integrated: What Does It Look Like and How Do We Get There?” Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, November 2011

2011 Presenter: Three Lectures: “Discernment: Biblical and Historical Foundations”; Holy Desire and Attachment to God above All Else”; “A Discernment Practice: Awareness Examen” for Hanshin Church Theological Symposium, Oak Valley, Korea, June 13-16

2011 Presenter: “Lectio Divina: Passion Week” CityChurch San Francisco, April 17

2011 Workshop Presenter: “Psalms of Thanksgiving: Praying Singing, Writing” T. V. Moore Lecture Series, SFTS, April 7

2011 Presenter, “Rules for Thinking with the Church,” for the course Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality, Jesuit School of Theology, April 6

2009 Presenter, Presbyterian Women, First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo, November 14

2009 Convocation speaker: San Francisco Theological Seminary, Southern California, September 19

2009 Co-presenter, Retreat with the Psalms. Santa Cruz, CA, July 15-22

2009 “The Way of Discernment: The Process of Making Faithful Decisions,” Retreat, Presbytery of St. Augustine, June 4-6

2009 Consultation, Riverside Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville, FL., June 7

2009 “Discernment: The Art of Hearing and Responding to God’s Call,” Omaha Seminary Foundation, Daniel Nelson Lectures, Omaha NE., May 11-12

2009 “Spiritual Exercises for 21st Century Women,” Lectures, Four Hundredth Anniversary of the founding of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dublin, Ireland, April 25

2009 Co-presenter, “Renewing and Sharing the Legacy of Marie Rose Durocher,” Santa Cruz, CA., Mar 23-28

2009 Presenter, 72 Hours (Prospective Student Weekend) San Francisco Theological Seminary, February

2008- Co-chair, Christian Spirituality Group, American Academy of Religion

2008 "Spiritual Practices for Decision Making," Adult Education and Sermon for First Presbyterian Church, San Bernadino, CA, August 24

2008 "Adaptations of the Spiritual Exercises for Women," English-Speaking European Tertianship (Jesuit), Manresa Jesuit Centre of Spirituality, Dublin, April 11

2008 "Thinking Developmentally as an Educator," Faculty Colloquium, Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, March 4

2008 Two lectures for HDCS41, "Adult Developmental Theories," and "Theories of Developmental Change." February
Six lectures for HDCS12/ MCS12, "Role of Practice in the Study of Christian Spirituality," Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin, January-February

2008 Ignatian Discernment" An Croi Centre of Spirituality, Ashbourne, Co Meath, Ireland, January

2008- Member, Spiritual Directors Network Steering Committee, Sisters of the Holy Names

2007 "Prayer of Examen," Presentation to SFTS Alumni, April 20

2007 Mission Trip, New Orleans, March 25-31

2007 "Discernment, the Art of Finding God's Call in Daily Life," Presentation to prospective students, SFTS, February 16

2007 Preacher, SFTS Chapel Service

2006-10 Editorial Board Member, Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry

2006 Guest speaker, GS1/212 Spirituality, Authenticity and Method, Milltown Institute, Dublin, March 30

2006 “What is distinctive about the study of Christian Spirituality?” Colloquium for faculty and Doctoral Students, Milltown Institute, Dublin, March 29

2006 “An Ignatian Way of Relating” and “The Spiritual Director’s Role in Discernment,” Manresa Jesuit Centre of Spirituality, Dublin: March 28

2006 Review of Joyce Mercer’s Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood, SFTS, February 6

2005 Guest lecture, CE 2523 Ethics and Spirituality, GTU, May

2005 Guest lecture, RALS2775 Hymns and Liturgies, SFTS, April 8

2005 Panel presentation for The Passion of the Lord: African American Reflection, by James Noel, SFTS April 5

2005 Interview: "Ignatian Spirituality" and "Speaking Ignatian," DVD for high school curriculum, edited by Paul Handley. San Francisco St. Ignatius Preparatory School, February 22

2005 Speaker, Fireside Chat SFTS, February 10
2005 Consultant to the Special Commission, San Francisco Presbytery, January 31 and February 10.

2004 Preacher in Seminary Chapel Service, November 1
2004 Discernment Retreat, Sisters of the Holy Names Novitiate, September 17-19

2004 "Ignatian Spirituality for the 21st Century," Keynote address, New England Province of the Society of Jesus, Boston, June 11

2004 "Doorways to Discernment: an Interactive Approach," Spiritual Directors' Colloquium, Weber Center, Adrian MI, March 7-9

2003 "Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises for Spiritual Directors," Institute of Spirituality, Dominican Center, Grand Rapids, MI., October 24-25

2003-06 Member, Interprovince Membership Standing Committee Sisters of the Holy Names

2003-05 Member, Planning Committee for Spirituality Formation in Seminaries, PC(USA)

2003 "The Art of Discernment: A Retreat" First Presbyterian Church, San Bernadino, CA, March 21-22

2003 Spiritual Life Minister's Workshop, Sisters of the Holy Names, Santa Cruz, CA, March 10-22

2003 "Women's Perspectives on the Spiritual Exercises," Ignatian Spirituality Series, Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, CA, Feb.19

2002 "Sabbath for Congregations," with Elizabeth Nordquist. Three plenary addresses for the Western National Leadership Training, Jackson, WY, November

2002 "Praying with Icons," Workshop for Western National Leadership Training, Jackson, WY, November

2002 "Ignatian Ministry of Conversation," Keynote address for Identity and Mission Day, Fairfield University, Fairfield CT, August 22

2001-03 Advisory Board, Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project. SFTS

2001 "Praying the Psalms," co-led with John Endres, St. Ignatius Parish, San Francisco, September-October 2001

2001, 04 Volunteer, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, Casa Asis (orphanage), San Jorge, Nicaragua, May

2000-01 Bridging the Gap: Spirituality and Business Foundational Project Seminar Project, Institute for Spirituality and Organizational Leadership, Santa Clara University. April 2000, March 2001

2000-01 President, Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality
2000 “We Are All Guests,” Essays for The Fountain, 2, (2), April 2000. Chung Dong United Methodist Church, Seoul, Korea

2000 “Becoming a Discerning Person,” Seminar for Oasis 2000, Conference on Reformed Spirituality. Atlanta Feb. 28 - Mar. 2

1999-00 Vice President and Chair of Nominating Committee, Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality

1999 “Discerning God’s Will,” course for Columbia Seminary’s Certificate in Spiritual Formation. Atlanta, October 24-29

1999 Participant, Psalms and Practice Conference, Austin Theological Seminary. May

1999 Faculty-Student Colloquium on A Retreat with the Psalms, with John Endres. Graduate Theological Union, April


American Academy of Religion

Catholic Theological Society of America

Society for Pastoral Theology

Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality

Spiritual Directors International