SpIRE Spirituality Institute

Spirituality Institute (SpIRE)

SpIRE is a Charitable Trust.

Registered Charity No. 20204471 and Charitable Tax Exemption No. CHY 22374.

The main object for which SpIRE was established is the promotion of spirituality by providing research, education, and community services for the public benefit.

The Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE) was established in 2015 to serve the spiritual seeking of people; it emphasises the value of the academic study of spirituality in higher education, and the phenomenon of ‘spirituality and’.

‘Spirituality and’ refers to the relationship between spirituality and the manifold areas of lived experience. These areas include healthcare, management, leadership, disability, social concern, ecology, aging, and social media, etc. The interface between spirituality and such areas, and spirtuality and the professions, are all signs of a new spiritual consciousness across the globe.

This global spiritual awakening is moving people to seek spiritual resources for issues about the meaning of life. The issues arise in a range of settings such as work, family, relationships, life-transitions, and concerns regarding human, societal, and planetary wellbeing.

In order to serve the journey of life in its spiritual dimension and connection, SpIRE aims to develop contemplative and critically informed spirituality guides, reflective practitioners, spirituality theoreticians, and skilled researchers. It will give effect to its aims through education, research, training, consultancy, publishing, and networking. The networking will involve collaboration with similar initiatives and entities in Ireland and beyond.

Latest News: 

The MA in Applied Spirituality programme for 2021-22  is full at present, but a waiting list has been created in case vacancies arise. To join the waiting list, please email Noelia at [email protected] 

“The Spirit of Healthcare” – Webinar hosted by the Dept of Nursing and Healthcare, Waterford Institute of Technology, with the participation of SpIRE, June 15th, 10.00-12.30. For further info, contact Bernadette at [email protected]

Registration via the link:


A confirmation email containing webinar access will be sent post registration

The launch of the first research group in spirituality in a School of Humanities in a third level insitution in Ireland took place in Waterford Institute of Technology, on May 21st.

Interest in spirituality studies has increased worldwide in recent years. As Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) marks the 20th anniversary of the MA in Applied Spirituality this year, researchers have established a new research group for exploring Spirituality in Society and the Professions (SpirSoP) to celebrate the graduates from more than 30 countries and 40 professions.

Here is the link to the recording of the launch:


1. *** Applications for the MA in Applied Spirituality in 2021-22 are full, but a waiting list has been created in case vacancies arise. Contact Dr Bernadette Flanagan: [email protected] or Dr Michael O’Sullivan: [email protected]

For dates and modules:  

2021-22 Modules & Schedule

2. Tara Travers has been selected in an open competition for a co-funded PhD research programme established between the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology and the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE), Dublin. The project is entitled HUNGER FOR FOOD, HUNGER FOR LIFE: THE INNER SPIRITUAL WORLD OF WOMEN WHO HAVE OVERCOME EATING DISORDERS.

Hunger for Food, Hunger for Life PhD Project


Dr Bernadette Flanagan
Roinn na nEalaíon / Department of Arts
Scoil na nDaonnachtaí / School of Humanities
Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Phort Láirge / Waterford Institute of Technology
Port Láirge / Waterford

3. The British Association for the Study of Spirituality is now the International Network for the Study of Spirituality (INSS) with its own website: spiritualitystudiesnetwork.org


SpIRE is a linked organisation with INSS and the Director of SpIRE is a member of the Board of Directors of INSS and its Links Page Coordinator.

It will hold an international conference online on 7-8 June 2021 in assocation with York StJohn University, England 

The theme is ‘Spirituality in Research, Professional Practice and Education’.

Further information, and booking upto May 31st, at:  


or contact MIchael at [email protected] or Joan at j.[email protected]

The Chair of SpIRE. Bernadette, is a keynote speaker and the Director of SpIRE, Michael, is an organiser and speaker. The conference will also celebrate 10 years of the INSS journal, Journal for the Study of Spirituality. The Director of SpIRE is a member of the Editorial Board.

4. If you are interesed in writing an article for a special issue of Religions journal on the  theme, Spirituality and Addiction, please contact Dr Bernadette Flanagan, Chair of SpIRE, at [email protected] 

See, also, https://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/special_issues/Spirit_Addict

5. 'A lived Jesuit Approach to Spirituality' - Jesuits Ireland

Dr Michae O’Sullivan, SJ, Director of SpIRE, was one of 24 people from 3 continents interviewed for the Spirit-Duality event hosted online in England during November. For more about the event, Michaell’s interview, and to watch the video of the interview, see https://www.jesuit.ie/…/a-lived-jesuit-approach-to…/


6. New book by Sr Emilia Fransiska, graduate of the MA in Applied Spirituality in 2013

Sr Emilia Fransiska from Indonesia graduated with the MA in Applied Spirituality in 2013 when we ran the MA at All Hallows College as a Dublin City University award. She is the latest graduate from this programme to have a book published. Her book, Put Out into the Deep, is a rereading of the Spirituality of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity Daughters of Mary and Joseph (DMJ).

7. 2 of the graduates of 2018-19 have had books published arising from their MA studies: Anita Maryam from Pakistan, Art Dispels the Darkness –A Spirituality of Healing, and Diane Jackson, Spirituality at the School-Gate. 22 graduates of the MA in recent years have had books, book chapters, and articles published, and some have also presented at international spirituality conferences.

8. SpIRE Library Launch

Following his inaugural lecture on ‘Journeying with Psyche and Soul in Spirituality’, Dr Larry Culliford (UK Author, a co-founder of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group, and a former Chair of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland) launched the SpIRE Library on World Book Day, 5 March 2020. The Library is a specialist library in Dublin for applied spirituality studies, Dr Culliford’s paper was published in the online journal, Studies in Spirituality. See https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume6-issue1-spring2020/2/

SpIRE Board and Committee Members: Dr Noel Keating, Dr Noelia Molina, Dr Larry Culliford (Launch Lecture), Dr Michael O’Sullivan, Director, Dr Bernadette Flanagan, Chair

9. International Spirituality Handbook Launch

Michael Comyn, RTE presenter, and Lifecoach, launching The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions. The book was launched at the international conference held in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). The conference, from May 16-18, 2019, was a collaboration between the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE), the European Institute for Spirituality in Economics and Society (SPES), and the School of Humanities, WIT. The ground-breaking book was co-edited by Prof Laszlo Zsolnai and Prof Bernadette Flanagan. Seated at the launch are some of the contributors who also gave papers at the conference.


10. Michael O’Sullivan gave a paper on Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ, the martyred Rector/President of the Jesuit University of El Salvador, at the American Academy of Religion in San Diego in November 2019, on the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of Ellacuria, his Jesuit companions, and Elba Julia, community cook, and Celina, her daughter.

11. Michael O’Sullivan, Bernadette Flanagan, and Noelia Molina, SpIRE Board members, gave papers at the  very successful international conference in Rome from Sept 25-28, 2019 on evolving methodologies in the study of both spirituality and spiritual theology.  The conference papers were published in the online publication, 

Mysterion 12/2 (2019), which can be found at http://www.mysterion.it/

See, also, https://spiritualitas-2019.weebly.com/

12. ‘Spirituality in Society and the Professions’, a ground-breaking international conference on  May 16-18, 2019, at Waterford Institute of Technology, attracted participants from 19 countries and 4 continents, The conference was a collaboration between the European SPES Institute (http://eurospes.org/), the SpIRE Institute in Dublin, and WIT School of Humanities. 4 books and a CD were launched at the conference; see https://www.jesuit.ie/news/a-book-to-relish/

Speakers and organisers of the conference pictured below


CDs/USBs of presentations recorded at the conference are available from Paul at  [email protected] / 087 2789390.

Prof Celeste Snowber from Canada gave the following feedback on the conference:

“Dear Michael and Bernadette,

As I am back in Canada I am continuing to reflect on how special my time in Ireland was at the conference.  I wanted to thank you for opening up such a generative space for scholars, educators and seekers from all over the world to convene, dialogue and be inspired by one another.  I am in gratitude for all your organizing, hospitality and bringing vision together.  I know what a huge outpouring of energy this is. So a BIG THANKS!!

I also wanted to send a note that the day on the Waterford Camino was absolutely wonderful and a precious compliment to everything else that had transpired.  We all found ourselves enriched on the land and Phil was a fabulous guide.  It couldn’t have been more perfect”.  

Testimonials about the MA in Applied Spirituality

Some testimonies about the 2019-20 MA in Applied Spirituality as a Waterford Institute ofTechnology (WIT) award. The MA is hosted and supported by SpIRE at the Jesuit Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland.

  • “I thank God for leading me onto what has been a truly enriching year with such valuable teaching from all the staff. Very many thanks to each of you for guiding me through this thought-provoking and nourishing year. Every blessing”.
  • “The MA program is a rich and meaningful and complex program which led to a thought-provoking and life-enhancing year. Huge thanks and gratitude to everyone on the staff – Michael, Bernadette, Noelia, David, Anne-Marie, Amanda, Brian, Padraig, and Kathleen. It has been a rich, intense and rewarding year. Much respect and Love”.
  • “Thanks to everyone who made my MA year so special, I have enjoyed every moment and the year has changed my life forever”.
  • “With thanks to Michael and Bernadette for facilitating the MA program; to Kathleen (in the library) for all her assistance; and the faculty team for their generous teachings. A special thanks to Noelia for her heartfelt supervision. Blessings to all”.
  • “To Michael, Bernadette, Noelia, Kathleen and all the wonderful lecturers who shared their wisdom this year. I am eternally grateful. Thank you so much for such a wonderful year. My soul feels grounded and my life expanded after it”.
  • “Thank you so much for an amazing experience”.
  • “Dear Michael, Bernadette, and Noelia (the leadership team), I write in deep gratitude for all your efforts over my MA in Applied Spirituality experience. Each of you, in your unique and lovely ways, have made such important contributions to my time in the programme. You set great examples, been a continued resource and shared so much knowledge and wisdom.”
  • “It was a great experience and I feel a better sense of myself and of my purpose in life. I feel stronger and happier in myself”.
  • “I have expanded both mind and spirit and know this experience will forever give deeper meaning to my life. I will continue to think of you all in prayer and with great gratitude”.
  • “To the Director, Dr. Michael O’Sullivan, whose attention to detail made for a smooth running of the programme. His lectures and his embodying of what he taught were a wonderful example of authenticity of life”.

Some testimonies about the 2018-19 MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) award. The MA is hosted and supported by SpIRE at the Jesuit Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland.

“I knew from the outset that the course content would be engaging, inspiring and incredibly informative, but I underestimated the cumulative effect of the layers and layers of learning that go on not just in lectures, but also in peer learning groups, in the corridor over a cup of coffee and while reflecting on teaching and conversations in my own time. This is a life-enhancing programme.”

“A wonderful year of study, reflection, discourse, wisdom and fun!”

“The M.A program has been a transformative experienced for me. I not only deepened my understanding of spirituality, but also discovered an academic field full of challenges and opportunities.”

“Excellent programme and process. An amazing experience of learning and reflection.

I have a new perspective on life and spirituality.”

“Buiochas for an amazing experience in spirituality!”

“It has been a wonderful and profound year. A program that enables personal growth and the search for meaning in life”.

“The course has been, remains, and will continue to be rich nourishment.”

“Life changing lectures with life-giving fellow students”.

“It has been a real privilege and joy to be part of the MA.”

“2018/19 has opened a wonderful landscape in my spiritual trajectory incorporating new dimensions, expanding knowledge, breaking the boundaries of my own perceptions, welcoming a multitude of new approaches to life, and many other experiences.”

“So many things to say. Thanks doesn’t begin to cover it!”

“Don’t do this course….unless you are open to it changing your life and want to meet some amazing, inspirational people”.

“The MA course was brilliant from start to finish”.

“Thank you to Dr Michael O’ Sullivan, Dr Bernadette Flanagan and all the lecturers and staff on the MA programme in Applied Spirituality at Milltown Institute for your challenging, inspiring and rewarding classes that has helped to make the year truly transformative. This is a course that I would highly recommend for those wishing to deepen and grow in their understanding of Spirituality and how it can be applied in our context”

A few testimonies about the 2017-18 MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) award. The MA is hosted and supported by SpIRE at the Jesuit Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland.

“The MA was a wonderful life-enriching process that will reverberate through the rest of my life”.

“Learning from experience, academic rigour, inspirational teachers and companionship on the spiritual journey have made my year of study on the MA Applied Spirituality programme one of transformation and great joy”.  

“It has been (and is) a truly amazing time of learning, growth and experiences!”

“The level of input was excellent, the opportunities to share and grow were amazing.  The friendships I have made are very precious. It has been a truly life-changing year for which I am profoundly grateful”.

“I particularly enjoyed chatting over tea with other students and adapting to the academic study of spirituality. I now feel more confident in developing my own interest in the field of spirituality and mental health”.

“Being supported throughout underpins the ethos of this unique course, and is fully implemented by lecturers, programme leaders, spiritual directors, and library staff alike. I am transformed utterly: now having a new voice with which to greet my world”.

“The MA in Applied Spirituality has had a life-changing effect on me”.

“My learning and personal transformation from the M.A. continues to influence my life”.

A few testimonies about the 2016-17 MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) award. The MA is hosted and supported by SpIRE at the Jesuit Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland. The MA began in 2001 at Milltown Institute, Dublin where it became an NUI award. It moved to All Hallows College as a Dublin City University award in 2010 – the final graduates of the NUI award at MIlltown Institute graduated in 2011. It moved back to Milltown Park in 2016 but this time as a WIT programme and award.

“I had already taken my first steps in a renewed spiritual life when I discovered the MA in Applied Spirituality. It presented itself just when I needed support for my personal journey of renewal and transformation. It was a challenge but I found the balance of academic and experiential learning uplifting, especially the support of tutors, spiritual advisors and classmates”.

“I can honestly say it is hard to put into words the positive experience this past year on the MA programme has been for me.  It has been a wonderful opportunity for growth and awareness, an opening to explore the meaning of my relational worlds and those around me, family, friends, community. It has expanded my thinking, opening up my listening, widening my view to be more inclusive of all that there may be, with compassion”.

“I learnt so much during the year and I enjoyed the course immensely”.

“I did the MA in Applied Spirituality during my sabbatical year and it was a very inspiring and fulfilling experience. The academic input was excellent, enlightening, thought-provoking and challenging. Great support and guidance were given at all times. The course called for personal reflection on lived experience and I have developed new skills and received many new insights for both my personal spiritual life and in my ministry. I have no hesitation in recommending this course to others to help them on the spiritual journey”.

“it is an amazing journey”.

“I want to acknowledge the inspirational presence of Dr Michael O’Sullivan who made my study of spirituality a transformative gift through the Holy Spirit. I will treasure our time together in Milltown for the rest of my life”.

A few testimonies about the MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Dublin City University (DCU) award at All Hallows College in 2010-15. Members of the SpIRE team have been prominent in writing, developing, delivering, and gaining degree status for this MA since it began in Milltown Institute (NUI) in 2001. 

“It is a gem of a course, combining so well action and contemplation, personal development and academic study and research. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to be part of it this year”.

“It was truly a remarkable experience and I feel very blessed to have been a small part of it”.

“This course was just what I was looking for. I had just retired (as a school principal) and was looking for a programme that could help me to explore and deepen my spirituality. A wonderful and unique aspect of the programme is that it gave me a solid academic foundation and, at the same time, allowed me to look deeply into the inner landscape of my soul.  The applied, contemplative focus of the course has challenged me to live with greater authenticity”.

“I applied for the MA after many years of restless seeking.  Having been through many life crises and in spite of huge resistance I finally listened to the call of my heart to pursue formal study in the field of spirituality.  I could not have anticipated the gift that this course would become in my life”.

“This is a unique course that integrates academic study and research with the deepening of self-awareness, which has enabled me to meet the challenges life presents to me, with greater clarity, authenticity and compassion and has provided me with a wonderful support network of like-minded people who wish to live from a similar wellspring”.

Evaluation of an international external examiner: