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It's 'all aboard' for this metaphysical journey

Concordia’s innovative new Certificate in Christian Spirituality encourages students of many faiths to ask life’s big questions
January 12, 2016
By J. Latimer

"Kiss of Judas," one of the most dramatic scenes from Giotto's frescos at the Scrovegni Chapel. | Courtesy Wikimedia The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas), Giotto, circa 1304. | Image: Wikipedia Public Domain

Are you a spiritual person? A new program offered by the Department of Theological Studies aims to help people explore that side of themselves within an academic setting.

“The Certificate in Christian Spirituality is a framework to do so without necessarily signing on for a four-year commitment to complete an undergraduate degree in Theological Studies,” says Christine Jamieson, an associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies.

Jamieson adds that the new certificate “comes from the department’s tradition of recognizing the academic discipline of spirituality as a vital component of Theological Studies.”

The new offering accommodates people of all faiths, not just Christians. And since the 30 credits earned can be transferred toward a Bachelor’s degree in Theological Studies, it serves as a foundation for those interested in taking their studies further.

The certificate debuted in September 2015, after receiving crucial support from André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the Faculty of Arts and Science’s curriculum committee.

What to expect from the new Certificate in Spirituality

In addition to exploring the roots and expressions of Christian Spirituality, students enrolled in the program will be encouraged to ask themselves big questions about the meaning of life and to look for answers through the lens of their own experience of the world, Jamieson explains.

They’ll have the opportunity to immerse themselves in rich Christian traditions and to explore how a person’s worldview and cultural perspective can affect their sense of spirituality.

Finally, students will be encouraged to develop practical skills that will help them become valuable companions to others on their spiritual journey.

Ignatian Centre students are welcome

The new certificate at Concordia is recommended for students training to become spiritual directors at the Ignatian Spirituality Centre. There, students learn how to lead prayer companions through a series of exercises — a process called the Ignatian method — to deepen their spiritual experience.

The technique is based on the teachings of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th-century Spanish knight from a Basque noble family, as well as a priest and theologian who founded the Jesuits.

“We’ve been talking about this certificate with Concordia’s theology department since 2003, and we’re so glad it’s happening,” says Reta Defossés, director of the Ignatian Spirituality Centre.

“Our students take courses on listening skills, prayer companionship, spiritual direction and how to discern their calling. However, we think it’s important for students to have a solid background in theology and spirituality. That’s what the certificate offers. It’s not mandatory, but it’s highly recommended.”

Students from the Ignatian Centre who elect to take the certificate in Christian Spirituality at Concordia have access to courses such as “THEO 203 - Introduction to the New Testament,” “PSCH 230 - Womb to Tomb” and “THEO 245 - The Creative Self” — in other words, courses the centre doesn’t offer.

“The certificate gives Ignatian students an academic credential to recognize the work they’ve done in theology and spirituality,” says Jamieson.

A new course, “THEO 403 - Ignatian Spirituality: Theory and Method,” will be added to the certificate next fall.

The theology department’s Jesuit DNA

Jamieson points out the Department of Theological Studies originated at Loyola College before it merged with Sir George Williams University to become Concordia in 1974.

“We invite students to explore their spiritual dimension, no matter their religion,” says Jamieson. “Our department, like Concordia and unlike most schools of theology, isn’t affiliated with any particular church. However, we are a department of Christian theology. That is our roots and the Christian tradition is the area of expertise of our professors.”

Find out more about
the Certificate in Christian Spirituality.


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