SpIRE Spirituality Institute

Spirituality Institute (SpIRE)

SpIRE is a Charitable Trust.

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

Latest News: 
1. '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…/


2. 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 bflanagan@spiritualityinstitute.ie

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.

***The MA programme in Applied Spirituality has filled for 2020-21.

If you are interested in applying for 2021-22, please email mosullivan@spiritualityinstitute.ie

MA in Applied Spirituality Class 2019-20 with programme leadership team 

MA in Applied Spirituality Class 2019-20

MA in Applied Spirituality Class 2019-20 with programme leadership team (Michael, Bernadette, and Noelia)


1) 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).

2) 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.

3) 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) launches the SpIRE Library, a specialist library for applied spirituality studies in Dublin, on World Book Day, 5 March 2020. Dr Culliford’s paper was published in the online journal, Studies in Spirituality. See https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume6-issue1-spring2020/2/


4) 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.

5) Postponed to 7-9 June 2021 because of the pandemic. The sixth international conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality  (BASS) will take place at York St John University, York, UK, from 1-3 June 2020. The theme will be ‘Spirituality in Research, Professional Practice and Education’. Bookings are now open at yorksj.ac.uk/BASS2020 and the submission of abstracts is invited (deadline for submission 17.00GMT on 2 December 2019). The conference programme is also available at yorksj.ac.uk/BASS2020  The Chair of SpIRE is a keynote speaker and the Director of SpIRE, as a Board member and Trustee, is an organiser.

6) 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.

7) Bernadette Flanagan, Michael O’Sullivan, 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/

7 )‘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/

CDs/USBs of presentations recorded at the conference are available from Paul at  eist@eircom.net / 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 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.

“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 2002. 

“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: