Research and scholarship are highly valued in all SpIRE activities. The members of the SpIRE team are involved in research and development in a wide range of areas such as spirituality and health, spirituality and social concern, spiritual autobiography, spirituality and childhood, spirituality as an academic discipline, contemplative education, and spiritual tourism. A few of the team exercise international leadership roles in the field of spirituality studies.
- ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1688-6569
- ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-0215-9536
Research projects publications involving and Michael O’Sullivan, and Bernadette Flanagan as co-authors:
“Developing Agreed and Accepted Understandings of Spirituality and Spiritual Care Concepts among Members of an Innovative Spirituality Interest Group in the Republic of Ireland”. Religions 2016, 7(3), 30; doi:10.3390/rel7030030; link: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/7/3/30
“Serenity Spirituality Sessions: A Descriptive Qualitative Exploration of a Christian Resource Designed to Foster Spiritual Well-Being among Older People in Nursing Homes in Ireland.” Religions 2015, 6(2): 299-316. Link: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/6/2/299.
Recent PhDs by members of the SpIRE Advisory Team
Noelia Molina and Bernadette Masterson, two doctoral students of Dr Bernadette Flanagan, Chair of SpIRE, graduated with PhDs in the field of spirituality studies from All Hallows College, Dublin City University, in November 2015. They were among the participants in the spirituality cluster of MA by research and PhD in spirituality led by Dr Michael O’Sullivan, the Director of SpIRE.
PhD Dissertation: Bernadette Masterson, ‘Spiritual Awakening Amongst Women in Ireland with Chronic Invisible Illnesses: An Exploratory Study’
This qualitative study explored the phenomenon of spiritual awakening in the lives of ten women in Ireland with chronic illnesses which have been subjected to invalidation by the medical profession.
An autoethnographic exploration of the researcher’s personal experience, through writing and analysing a personal narrative, was central to a methodological approach which employed a blend of autoethnography, narrative inquiry, hermeneutics, intuitive inquiry, and phenomenology.
This study aimed to fill a lacuna in the literature by employing the theoretical frameworks of psychosynthesis theory and the conceptual maps of contemplative psychology to explore how losses incurred in chronic invisible illness experiences may lead to a deeper level of consciousness exhibiting transpersonal characteristics such as peace, creativity, alertness to non-ordinary perception, ecological awareness, and altruism.
The chief discovery arising from this study was that it is a particular form of injustice (testimonial), with its traumatic wounding, that was the key to spiritual awakening. The unique seven-stage model presented here contributes a heuristic model of chronic invisible illness experience as a path to the Self for women. Its implicit optimistic paradigm has implications for a re-framing of chronic illness experiences not merely as negative phenomena, but as potential gateways to spiritual awakening.
PhD Dissertation: Noelia Molina, ‘The Transition to Motherhood as Enactment of Spiritual Awakening: An Exploratory Study’
This thesis explored the transition to motherhood in dialogue with spirituality perspectives. Informed by a poststructuralist feminism and post-modernism philosophical framework, the study addresses the role of spirituality on lived maternal experiences through the three temporal points of the transition: pre-natal, birth and post-natal. These three points, relying on women’s past, present and future maternal memories, reflections and expectations, gave full scope to the unique maternal narrative.
Employing organic and intuitive research methods, this qualitative study describes rich data from interviews with four mothers in an initial pilot study and from an extended study of a further seven mothers’ unstructured interviews. The data is described in two forms: seven unique maternal narratives that elucidate and give voice to the mothers in their transition and NVivo thematic analysis. The main themes emerging from this analysis are: spiritual embodied experiences, instinctual knowing, identity, crisis, connections, change and transformation. These themes contribute to qualitative spiritual knowledge in the maternal literature. Unique spiritual maternal capacities are also investigated showing the relevance of the study for childbearing women, researchers of women’s health, and maternal caregivers.
The proposed exploratory maternal framework in this study (transpersonal, humanistic, philosophical, spiritual intelligence and spiritual emergence/emergency) can be accommodated and applied in future spiritual maternal research in diverse settings.
PhD Dissertation: Noel Keating, ‘Children’s Spirituality and the Practice of Meditation in Irish Primary Schools: A Phenomenological Exploration’
This thesis explores the child’s experience of meditation in the context of a whole-school practice in Irish primary schools and its impact on children’s spirituality. There has been limited research into the impact of meditation on children, in particular on its spiritual fruits in their lives. This research seeks to discover and describe how children experience the practice of meditation, the practical benefits they consider they gain from it, and the nature of its impact, if any, on their spirituality.
The research uses a phenomenological, hermeneutic, mystagogical methodology. Using purposive sampling, seventy children, aged from 7 to 11 years, were interviewed. The study is original in that the interview protocol contained novel processes designed to elicit from children their experience, if any, of the transcendent in the practice of meditation and in its depth of analysis of the spiritual fruits of the practice. These processes include photo-elicitation and an original method, the Selection Box, designed to enable children to reflect on the comments of their peers. These methods proved to be very effective in giving voice to the views of the children, enabling them to give metaphorical expression to their experience of the transcendent through the practice of meditation. These methods may have application in other areas of human sciences research.
The research identifies four themes linked to the experience of meditation: simplicity, serenity, self-awareness and heart-awareness and presents a phenomenological description of the child’s experience of meditation. It identifies three pragmatic benefits: that meditation calms and restores, generates energy and confidence, and improves decision-making. Regarding spiritual fruits of the practice, the work presents a heuristic model showing how meditation deepens children’s self-awareness, awakens the heart to the true-self, nourishes their spirituality and inspires them toward more authentic living. The study stresses the importance of personal spiritual experience and concludes that the regular practice of meditation has the capacity to enkindle and nourish the innate spirituality of children, counter the tendency toward ‘true-self denial’ and build community self-presence. It supports the introduction of meditation in primary schools on a whole-school basis.
MA in Applied Spirituality Dissertation Titles
A taught MA in Applied Spirituality has been running in Ireland since 2001 and it has been described as ‘potentially world-leading’ by an international external examiner. The programme in its first form ran at Milltown Institute, Dublin as a Milltown Institute programme and was awarded by the National University of Ireland from 2006. A similar version of the programme ran at All Hallows College as an All Hallows programme and was awarded by Dublin City University from 2010-2015. A third version of the programme (2016f) is now awarded by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and the programme is also a WIT programme. However, the programme is hosted and supported by SpIRE in Dublin. This is the first time in Ireland for an MA in Applied Spirituality to be awarded by an Institute of Technology.
Noel Keating, who completed his PhD in spirituality with WIT following the closure of All Hallows College, graduated with an MA in Applied Christian Spirituality from All Hallows College (Dublin City University) in 2013. The photo shows him with Dr Michael O’Sullivan, SJ, Programme Director of the MA and Director of SpIRE being presented with the medal for academic excellence across all the taught MAs at All Hallows College in 2012-13. Dr O’Sullivan has been programme director/leader of this MA since 2005 and has been prominent, also, in designing and developing the MA over the years and in leading it through different institutional accreditation processes.
The following is a selection of MA dissertation titles which formed part of the taught MA in Applied Spirituality that Michael and Bernadette have done so much to forward and develop since it began in 2001. A greater number of dissertations from 2016f has been included than from the pre-WIT years of the programme. Several of the MA graduates have had books published arising from their dissertations. In honour of the MA being 20 years on the go in 2021, SpIRE is currently compiling a list of publications by graduates since the MA started.
DissertationsA list of some of the dissertations by MA in Applied Spirituality graduates according to the year of completion and starting with the most recent graduation year.
|Name and Year||Dissertation Title||Completion Year
|Leadership and Spirituality||2020|
|The Movement of Spirit in Musicians in Performance||2020|
|The Spirituallity of National Parks||2020|
|Caroline Lundy |
|The Spirituality of the Labyrinth||2020|
|An Exploration of How Spirituality Presents in the Lives of Irish Millenials||2020|
|Catherine Lowry O'Neill|
|Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart: A First Person Organic Inquiry into Visio Divina||2020|
|Via Feminina: A Pathway to Wholeness||2020|
|Animal Spirituality: Spiritual Dimensions of Non-Huamn Animal Lives||2020|
|More than just a Birdbath Francis: Franciscan Spirituality and the Environmental Crisis||2020|
|The Spiritual Dark Night of the Feminine: A Woman's Search for Meaning in the 21st Century||2020|
|Celtic Pagan Spirituality in Contemporary Ireland: Ceremony and Ritual for Child Blessing||2020|
|The Spirituality of Women in the Context of Extractive Industries||2020|
|The Significance of Nature for People Living in a Rural Irish Setting in Spiritual Context||2020|
|The Cross: Trauma, Transformation and Healing in Women's Lives||2020|
|Saints Ite: Wisdom of the Indwelling Spirit: Am Exploratory Study of Celtic Spirituality as Contemporary Guide||2020|
|Anita Maryam |
|Exploring Indigenous Spirituality: A Kutchi Kohli Case Study (Pakistan)||2019|
|Annabel Esman |
|Spiritual Emergency and Postmodern Spirituality: An Autoethnography||2019|
|School Gate Spirituality: A Heuristic Study||2019|
|To Investigate the Motivation, Passion, Vocation and Commitment of Lay Chaplains and the Challenges Faced by Them in Developing the Spirituality of Young People||2019|
|Ecxo-Spiritual Approaches for Cosan na Naomh Pilgrims||2019|
|Irene Balzan 2018-19||Spirituality during a Time of War: An Exploratory Study of Meaning-Making, Resilience and Witness in Missionary Religious Women||2019|
|The Spirituality of Laudato si - From Text to Local Action||2019|
|Rites of Passage for Young Irish West of Ireland Men - An Exploration of how Irish Indigenous Wisdom could be Incorporated into Richard Rohr's Male Rites-of-Passage Programme||2019|
|An Exploration of Hospitality as a Path towards Spiritual Transformation||2019|
|The Lived Spirituality of the Consecrated Women Envisioning the Future in the Sri Lankan Context||2019|
|Spirituality and the Third Phase of Life||2019|
|An Investigation into the Spiritually Transformative Experience of Reading Psalms 118, 78:1-39, 144||2019|
|Colm Kennedy 2017-18||Spirituality and Leadership in Business||2018|
|An Exploration of the Inner World of Experience of the Eco-Spiritual Intuitive and its Transformative Potential||2018|
|Jimmy Myerscough 2017-18||Shaping their Father’s God: Narrative Research into What Christian Fathers Learn about God through Parenthood||2018|
|Margaret Maung 2017-18||Transformational Leadership and Spirituality: A Study of Women Religious Congregations in Myanmar||2018|
|Monica Delaney 2017-18||How are the Spiritual Needs of Members Being Met in Emerging Christian Communities in Ireland Today?||2018|
|Petra Pajdakovic Sebek|
|Spirituality in the Selfie Culture of Instagram||2018|
|Priscilla Fitzpatrick 2017-18||A Mother’s Relationship with God as Influenced by the Spirituality of her Children: Discerning the Presence of God in Mother and Child Relationships||2018|
|Eduard Obuf 2016-17||Exploring Cinema as Spiritual Experience||2017|
|Gabrielle Jin 2016-17||How People from a Christian Background Assimilate the Practice of Mindfulness||2017|
|Kevin Farrell 2016-17||Walking as Spiritual Practice||2017|
|Lesley O’Connor 2016-17||Visio Divina – An Investigation of Emerging Trends||2017|
|Mary Keane 2016-17||Spiritual Resources for Single Women in Ireland to Sustain Them on their Journey||2017|
|Michael Punch 2016-17||Landscapes of the Spirit in North Inner-City Dublin||2017|
|Paddy Banville 2016-17||The Spiritual Journey of Homosexual Catholic Priests||2017|
|Carmel Keane 2014-15||Intuitive Inquiry and the Encounter with AMMA: The Personal Experience of Irish Devotees||2015|
|Aine Campbell 2013-14||An Exploration of the Spirituality of Catherine McAuley Informing the Spirituality for Sisters of Mercy: Through the Lens of Radical Wisdom Theory||2014|
|Elizabeth Fletcher 2013-14||Spirituality in the Face of General Anaesthesia: A Qualitative Study||2014|
|Noel Keating 2012-13||Exploring the Contours of the Child’s Experience of Christian Meditation||2013|
|Patricia Nguyen 2012-13||The Longing for Home: Images of ‘Home’ and their Spiritual Meanings||2013|
|Kathleen Geaney 2011-12||Contemplative Practice / Meditation: A Meeting Place For Transformative Dialogue Between Buddhists and Christians in Myanmar||2012|
|Ken Hannaway 2011-12||Exploring the Relationship between Christian Spirituality and the Professional Approach towards Suicide Prevention||2012|
|Noel Brosnan 2011-12||Unitive Consciousness for Contemporary Middle-Aged Irishmen: An Autoethnographic Study||2012|
|Caroline Stratton 2010-11||Exploring the Role of Christian Spirituality in the Lives of Young Adults in Contemporary Ireland||2011|
|Geraldine White 2010-11||How Men Cope with the Transition to Retirement: The Role of a Spiritual Dimension||2011|
|Laurie Engesser 2010-11||The Relationship between Spirituality in Twelve Step Addiction Recovery and Attachment to a Higher Power||2011|
|Sean O Faircheallaigh 2010-11||“The Three who are in the great pouring Sea” – God and Nature in Spirituality: An Examination of Gaelic Vernacular Prayers||2011|
|Suzanne Kelly 2009-10||Encounters with Ultimate Reality: An Exploration of the Spiritual Challenges of Death and Dying||2010|
|Senan D’Souza 2008-2009||The Spirituality of Gardening||2009|
|Ann Gallagher 2007-08||God in the Writings of John McGahern: The Spiritual Dimension Underlying his Writings||2008|
|Ann O’Farrell 2007-08||The Journey from Desire to Mystical Longing in Leonard Cohen: An Articulation of Postmodern Spirituality||2008|
|Carol Milton 2007-08||“For your Hidden Self to Grow Strong”. A Study of Adolescent Spiritual Formation and its Potential Role in Suicide Prevention||2008|
|June Kennedy 2007-08||Is Spirituality Implicit in Ecological Practice, Literacy and Discourse?||2008|
|Margaret (Rita) Kelly 2007-08||Towards a Transformative Spirituality: Exploring Stress and Trauma among Missionaries in Ministry||2008|
|Marion Dooley |
|An Alternative View: The Poet Patrick Kavanagh offers a Contemplative Eye on Life||2008|
|Mary E. Keating |
|The Family - Womb for the Spiritual Life of the Young Child||2008|
|Niamh Kelly 2007-08||Pilgrimage in Glendalough as Spiritual Experience||2008|
|Eoin Garrett 2006-07||The Language of the Soul made Audible: An Investigation of Spiritual Effects of Liturgical Music on the Worshipper||2007|
|Grainne Putney 2006-07||God on the Streets: Exploring the Lived Spirituality of People Who Are Homeless||2007|
|Mary O’Brien 2006-07||Poem Making as Meditative Practice||2007|
|David Halpin 2005-06||The Spirituality of Questioning Catholics: Balancing Loyalty and Dissent||2006|
|Ruth Harris 2005-06||An Exploration of the Theme of the Wounded Healer in the Context of Bereavement Following Suicide||2006|
|Sorcha Woods 2005-06||Children’s Spirituality: Nature as a Source of Spiritual Experience for Children||2006|
|Anne Ryan 2004-05||Depression and Spiritual Growth||2005|
|Sally Hyland 2004-05||God, Hidden in the Marginalised||2005|