In a world which we are constantly reminded is becoming more and more secular the study of theology can seem to many an outdated pursuit. In Theology in the Making Gesa E. Thiessen and Declan Marmion have compiled biographical accounts from more than a dozen international theologians in order to remind us that theology does matter. Writers as diverse as Una Agnew, Werner C. Jeanrond, Mary T. Malone, Enda McDonagh and Michael Paul Gallagher discuss issues including their call to study theology, the figures that have influenced them in their studies, how their theology has adapted over the years and the relevance of theology in contemporary Ireland.
Rather than being simply a job like any other these writers demonstrate a life-long commitment to the pursuit of, to quote St Anselm, a faith seeking understanding that constitutes theological investigation. As such Theology in the Making is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the relationship between Christianity, theology and biography in the modern world.
Gesa E. Thiessen & Declan Marmion
1. My Way to Spirituality Una Agnew
2. Theology in the Making Mary Condren
3. An Accidental Theologian James Corkery
4. Turning Points on a Journey DanaI Dorr
5. Theology in the Making Seán Fagan
6.Biography and Theology: Contexts and Changes Seán Freyne
7.A Passion for Faith Michael Paul Gallagher
8. Theology in the One World Werner G. Jeanrond
9. Retrieving Woman's Theology Mary T. Malone
10. On Trying to be a Theologian John D'Arcy May
11.A Mayo Theologian! God Help Us Enda McDonagh
12. Journeying with Moral Theology Vincent MacNamara
13. Alive and Signalling: Theology as Calling Geraldine Smyth
My Journey into Theology: The Cross-Cultural Impact Elochukwu E. Uzukwu
Declan Marmion, SM is a Lecturer in Systematic Theology at the Milltown Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Dublin. He has published a Spirituality of Everyday Faith: A Theological Investigation of the Notion of Spirituality in Karl Rahner, and The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner.
Gesa E. Thiessen and Declan Marmion have compiled biographical accounts from more than a dozen international theologians who have worked in Ireland in order to remind us that theology does matter. Writers as diverse as Una Agnew, Werner G. Jeanrond, Mary T. Malone, Enda McDonagh and Michael Paul Gallagher discuss issues including their call to study theology, the figures that have influenced them in their studies, how their theology has adapted over the years and the relevance of theology in contemporary Ireland. As such Theology in the Making is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the relationship between Christianity, theology and biography in the modern world.
- Books Ireland
Making theology pertinent and cutting edge is challenging for any theologian. Editors Gesa E. Thiessen and Declan Marmion are theologians with a particular mission to the contemporary world. Their mission, in gathering this volume of essays from well known and respected theologians, is to encourage the development of relevant and theological discourse in the midst of every day lived human experience...It is a great honour and privilege to recommend this book to aspiring theologians. Readers are offered a varied menu of theological wisdom wrapped in blankets of personal biographies. The most touching aspect of this book is that each contributor tells how they were called to study theology, how they perceived the task of theology, and how their theology developed over the years.
- Milltown Studies, Winter 2005
A very interesting book where the editors have gathered together contributions from international theologians. Each of the essays tends to be autobiographical and deal with how the author initially came to study theology and how their life intertwined with their work. It is fascinating to read how these respected theologians went on their journey, how they came to be drawn into theological study and how they have grown personally along with their study. As the introduction points out Theology is an existential pursuit, arising from the questions and challenges of life, and is to a greater or lesser extent concretely linked to the theologians life stories... Having just finished a Bachelor s degree in Theology, I can empathise with this...theology is part of who we are and is totally addictive. I am already thinking about what to study next! The range of theologians in the book is quite diverse with women and men from several different countries all of whom have some connection with Ireland.
- Diocesan Magazine February 2006
Theology , even if often described as simply faith seeking understanding , can seem an activity far removed from the lives of ordinary Christians. This book helps to demystify theology by asking a number of Irish and Irish-based theologians to share how their work has been informed by the concrete questions and challenges they have faced in their lives. It invites them to reflect on how their theology has been shaped by the places they came from, their experiences growing up and into adulthood, the places they lived and studied, as well as by world and church events (not least the Second Vatican Council). It asks them to tell us how they have gone about their work as well as the questions they are passionate about exploring in the future.
Each theologian tells his or her story with openness, honesty and humour. There is much to be gained from reading their stories as journeys of faith not unlike our own. Equally, if we have ever had an interest in learning more about our faith, these stories show us how such learning can be a rich part of our faith journey. You never know, by reading this book you might even be inspired to study theology!
- Rev. Christopher Fitzgerald
- Chapter One: My Way to Spirituality Una Agnew
A Christian as a matter of course
Reared in a homogeneous Roman Catholic background, in a rural community near the borders of Louth and South Armagh, I was, until well into adulthood, what the Danish philosopher S?©ren Kierkegaard called, a Christian as a matter of course! I was imbibing Christian values around me in a relatively unthinking way, for the most part, asleep in my facticity. Religion was important in my home; my parents being the local educators in a rural community where peoples welfare mattered a lot. Theirs was the generation destined to experience for the first time the new Constitution of Ireland (1937) and restore the countrys dignity as a self-determining nation. My father was a devotee of the family rosary, my mother read the Bible instead of fiction during Lent and as children we accused her teasingly of being a Protestant!
The Mythical/Religious Culture of South - East Ulster
Ours was a home dominated by children, storytelling, politics and football. Legends of Sliabh Gullion, St Brigid of Faughart, Ferdia and Cuchulainn of Ardee, the Children of Lir and the Cattle Raid of Cooley: all intertwined themselves in a frequently exasperating web of fact and fiction. This ancient countryside of the Fews (1) was rich in story, rhyme and song with smuggling folk-tales adding extra local colour. My mother supplemented. her genius for storytelling with a diet of good books, poems and deep respect for chapel and clergy. School and chapel were inextricably linked in our lives, enclosed as they were in the ancient ring-fort space that formed our playground; a haven of faith and culture! Fairy-lore haunted and stretched the imagination while love of nature was instilled by a multitude of wildlife, a panoramic view of patchwork fields and the ever-varying tints that adorned Sliabh Gullions brow. The dream of a Gaelic language revival refused to die; its roots injected a sense of God and invisible energies into the names of fields, lone-bushes and rural way of life.
The Nurture of Spiritual and Aesthetic Sensibility
Despite its natural deprivations, boarding school at St Louis Convent, Carrickmacross, provided a nurturing ambience for aesthetic sensibility. Private prayer was fostered in the dimly lit atmosphere of the convent-chapel after evening study. Plainchant song and the rich melodies of choir pieces, musicals and operettas imprinted themselves indelibly in the memory. A love of beauty and culture almost filled the gap left by absence of home and loss of rural landscape. Devotional practices in the shape of May altars, Children of Mary and Legion of Mary cultivated an adolescent desire for Gods ministry at this early romantic stage of religious development. In many ways this aesthetic/ devotional culture of boarding school was more faith nourishing than the diet of Harts Christian doctrine, Sheehans Apologetics and Gospel learned by rote that fulfilled the requirements of a largely stolid and uninteresting Religious Education syllabus. The decision to become a Sister of St Louis at eighteen seemed a natural sequel to boarding school life of the late 1950s. I was guided unconsciously, more by the example of happy religious women around me than by conscious personal conviction of my own. After four years study at UCD I graduated with a BA and Higher Diploma in Education with a brief to teach Irish and English in the West of Ireland. Then, unexpectedly, I was assigned to a teaching post in France.
From France to the USA
Exposure to French culture came with the Student Movement at its height in Paris, 1968. In the nearby medieval-type village of Juilly where I taught, life was calm and undisturbed. With my senior Baccalaureate students, I was enjoying the French liturgical renewal with the hymns of Lucien Deiss and Jo Akepsimas. Modern religious music stirred French Catholic youth into more active participation in Liturgy. Where the French church was alive, it was exciting. I was enjoying a more self-questioning form of faith than I had left behind in Ireland. It was then timely that a Dutch Spiritan, Dr Adrian van Kaam, Director of the then Institute of Man at Duquesne University Pittsburgh, came to speak to members of my religious institute in Ireland. All were enthused by his interpretation of The Vowed Life (1968). His three-fold path emerged from experiential foundations already incipiently present in the human person and even foreshadowed in animal life. This way of life he argued, served the culture in a profound three-fold attitudinal response to persons, events and things; a healing programme of life formation. Van Kaams revolutionary formulation of the vows at that time was made in response to humanistic arguments, which I had already encountered among my students who viewed the vowed life as unnatural and, frankly, a waste! His conviction that the theological foundations of the vows were rooted in the deepest aspirations of the human self made more sense to me than attempts to force their origins exclusively from biblical sources or even from history.
What is Spirituality?
Van Kaam had been propounding his seminal spirituality theory in terms of human existence that gradually differentiates itself and integrates itself according to a project of existence. My life was experiencing. enormous differentiation. Could it find integration? The religious mode of existence, when central, can permeate all other modes of being in the world. (2) This was a programme for life. As a young apostolic religious woman, I was excited by the notion that a central religious mode of presence integrates and renders all other modes holy. I was fortunate to be sent by my religious congregation as a post-graduate student to Pittsburgh to study under the guidance of this intellectually alert and thorougly modern spiritual master. Van Kaam was then (1970) already engaged in defining spirituality as a science, in terms of its primary and secondary formal objects. He worked tirelessly to explicate a suitable interdisciplinary methodology for spirituality as well as explaining a rationale for so doing. He painstakingly distinguished the discipline of spirituality from theology and explained how the rupture between these two distinct (not separate) sciences had occurred. The writers Jean Leclercq and Louis Bouyer became significant authors, along with his already strong commitment to existential psychology. Van Kaam believed that theology had long enjoyed pride of place as a formative religious discipline; its role now was to inform, not dominate, spirituality. Needed as a complementary discipline was the formational/informational theology to which he has devoted a lifetimes work. The insights of this scholar were and remain a predominant spiritual and intellectual influence in my life.
Adrian van Kaams Anthropology of the Self
Understanding Van Kaams anthropology and his definition of spirituality as a science, became perhaps, the greatest personal investment of my life. For me it has stood the test of time. Going beyond a neo-Freudian construct of the self, he devised his own self-theory inclusive of universal religious spirit as well as Christian articulation. He had succeeded in incorporating much of the realism of Freud without losing anything of the spirituality of Aquinas. His understanding of the human self as openness to Mystery was spiritual, existential and psychological. His thinking originated when, as a seminarian, he helped hide people during the underground movement in Holland in 1944-1945. The challenge, at that time, was to help people of various religious
traditions and none to be open to life-formation in the light of the divine mystery central to human unfolding. This experience as well as his work at Brandeis University forced him to devise a language that was acceptable to all creeds and none; thus he initially made reference to The Holy and the sacred dimension of life as central to life-formation. Literature and psychology were twin disciplines revealing the meaning of human existence. Human experience was the starting point of both. (3) As his thinking developed in the 1980s, he moved away from the more humanistic phraseology pertaining to self fulfillment and emergent selfhood and came to speak freely of disclosing the Christ-form within us through graced Christian unfolding in daily life. Dialogue with Abraham Maslow revealed the divergence in these two authors approaches to transcendence. Although Maslow disagreed with van Kaam, he respected his effort to expound a transcendent personality formation centered on the grace of a personal God. (4) In contrast, Maslows self-actualising self drew on no such divine intervention. Grace was an unpopular concept at that time.
Van Kaams courses at Duquesne University (1970-1974) were exciting originals but always grounded in experience. He had no illusions about his emerging science of spirituality.
He encouraged his students to become masters of suspicion, confront authentic and inauthentic ideals in self and others, unpack personality structures and peal back the layers of human experience to disclose its structure, using a phenomenological methodology. Guarding against mere humanism, he kept his teaching in tune with Catholic doctrine, drawing on the riches of the mystics and masters of spirituality. He ensured that his books always carried an Imprimatur. His classes over these three years were small (ten to twelve students) which afforded optimum student-teacher contact. Emphasis was placed on reflective journaling as a means of integrating course material and providing a testing ground for thesis work. Needless to say, he experienced considerable resistance on the part of students who believed he was not theological enough. Van Kaam, for his part, did not wish to lessen the importance of theology as a science, but struggled to show how it must inform, not supercede, its respected partner, spirituality. When, some day in the distant furture, his complete opus is retrospectively assessed, it will be seen that he, in partnership with Dr Susan Muto, was working towards the eventual formulation of a theology of applied formation. (5)
Originality and Spirituality
My research in Duquesne dealt with a topic considered fundamental to the spiritual life. It concerned Originality and Spirituality: The Art and Discipline of Being Oneself. Guided by van Kaams theory maintained that the foundations of authentic selfhood are rooted in ones biogenetic make-up, historical cultural roots and deepest Origin - God. The methodology used was interdisciplinary and required philosophical, psychological and sociological foundations. Alvin Tofflers bestseller Future Shock appeared on second year book lists and demonstrated forcibly that world trends, in particular the accelerated pace of change affecting people, products, communities and organisations, was beginning to affect the very stability in which the original self could be nurtured. Buffeted by the ever-increasing pace of change and multiplicity of lifestyles, the individual found it difficult to remain true to innate original promptings.
The thesis had to be firmly rooted in human experience my experience! (6) Taking my courage in hand, I began to make explicit my lived experience of originality, taking cognisance of those obstacles within me that were blocking original selfhood, as well as what facilitated its ongoing emergence. I had to live the thesis, have it intersubjectively validated at research seminars, as well as study its far-reaching academic implications in the library. William Luijpen and Merleau Ponty gave the lead in how to investigate experience phenomenologically, how to plumb the universal structures of a lived experience and discover its foundational components. Literature was a strength I brought to my research and I was encouraged to use its experiential riches. Once selected, the thesis became a lens through which lectures and reading materials were assimilated. Summers were spent investigating and annotating bibliographies. Duquesne University had been the intellectual home of
William Luijpen, Bernard Boelen and Remy Kwant. Mircea Eliade and Rollo May were also resident or visiting lecturers there so that some or all of these names began to appear in students bibliographies. Van Kaams interdisciplinary methodology sent us delving into new areas of the human sciences. Biogenetics was essential to originality. Although DNA testing was not yet to the forefront of peoples thinking, Van Kaam was insistent that genetics played an essential role in discerning the blueprint of the soul before God.
The Writings of S?©ren Kierkegaard
It was the philosophy of Kierkegaard which impacted on me most. I was assigned The Point of View of My Work as an Author (7) for a project directed by Dr Susan Muto. Schooled in interpretation by Paul Ricoeur, her approach to reading and her method of interpretation began to influence the manner in which I read. (8) I allowed Kierkegaards words to reach me at the very level of my existence, just as he intended. He was guiding the reader towards his cherished category - the individual urging me to reflect myself out of the mass-mindedness of Christendom :
Who thou art I know not, where thou art I know not, what thy name is I know not. Yet thou art my hope, my joy, my pride; although unknown thou art an honour to me. (1962, p. 109)
I slow read my way through The Point of View, phrase by phrase, confronted by ideas like: the crowd is untruth and the individual is the category through which, in a religious respect, this age, all history, the human race as a whole, must pass. I remembered The Pass of Thermopolae from school and shuddered in the self-recognition that only one attains the goal. Kierkegaards notion of individual selfhood was a category of the spirit, of spiritual awakening. The shift in consciousness was seismic. Having experienced, to date, two major culture changes and a major earthquake along the San Fernando Valley Fault in 1970, Kierkegaards words had easy access to my psychic and spiritual vulnerability:
Eternity which arches high oer and high above the temporal, tranquil as the starry vault at night, and God in heaven who in the bliss of that sublime tranquillity holds in survey, without the least sense of dizziness of such a height, these countless multitudes of men and knows each single individual by name. (1962, pp. 111-112)
His words touched the very quick of my selfhood. Reading Eliot, Hopkins, Thoreau and Dilliard, I was exploring new levels of spirituality in literature. At the same time Evelyn Underhills classic volume, Mysticism, absorbed me by her profound understanding of the mystical journey. As a fellowship of learners and friends in Duquesne, we kept each other grounded through this transforming process, with the help, when needed, of a much trusted Mexican American spiritual guide and psychotherapist, Dr Charles Maes.
To have learned research skills, in a computer-less age, from the combined competences of van Kaam, Dr Susan Muto and Dr Carolyn Gratton, I now see, as one of the great gifts life has offered. I completed the thesis, explored on five different levels, and applied its findings as a formative tool in the final chapter. The proposal for this thesis was published in Adrian van Kaam, In Search of Spiritual Identity (1975). Van Kaam was proud of his students work and thought to publish a Spirituality Series consisting of this pioneering research, but few were free to avail of his invitation. After three years study leave, religious communities required some immediate return for the valuable study opportunity that had been granted. As a result, many valuable pieces of research completed then are still gathering dust. Few Irish religious women in the late 1970s were writing. Women religious were heroically engaged in pastoral and administrative work in schools, hospitals or on overseas mission. I soon became heavily involved in Renewal work called Focus for Action, sponsored by the Conference of Religious of Ireland, and lived for some years from a suitcase! Services as a spiritual counsellor were also in demand, since religious life in Ireland was reeling in a fast-forward movement of modernisation and enculturation. This acceleration cried out for a new spirituality, one to be lived privately at home but not for study in the academy!
You Cant Go Home Again?
What became evident in Ireland in the late 1970s and early 1980s was that spirituality was unknown as an academic subject. It was truly a golden age of theology in the Mater Dei Institute when I accompanied my formation students there from 1974 to 1980 and found there a gifted staff in full academic flight! While I enjoyed sitting in the benches with my students who were in formation, I knew I was neither fish nor flesh. I was not a trained theologian, yet not a neophyte either, my training had been as rigorous as any in the area of spirituality. I was now learning from great theologians, though I could see that theology as a discipline needed further application to life and embodiment in reality. I remember noting in John Macquarries Principles of Theology (1966) that, although experience, revelation and culture were named as three of the formative factors in theology, these received nowhere near the same attention as scripture and tradition, the traditional cornerstones of the discipline. Dermot Lanes enthusiastic lectures on the Christ-event, his emphasis on a low ascending theology, his probing insights into Tillich, Pannenberg and Moltmann should have guaranteed my thorough and immediate re-conversion to theology, (9) but having made the shift in Duquesne into the field of experiential knowledge, I could not make the shift backwards. I still believed that theological concepts and critical analysis, however excellently taught, often fail to transform Christian consciousness.
Gradually, I found myself engaged in a bit of everything: pastoral ministry, personal counselling, spiritual direction, retreat, personal formation work; I lost confidence in spirituality as an academic subject. I often wonder, were I a male religious with the same training, would the situation have been different? I was occasionally employable, it seemed, in the area of personal development (how van Kaam would have wept!). Nevertheless, in 1985, Rev Jim McPolin S.J., offered me the Directorship of the one-year Spiritual Studies Programme at the Milltown Institute. This programme consisted, almost exclusively, of theology! I thoroughly enjoyed my involvement with it, my course on Personal Religious Formation and the much needed spirituality infrastructure built around the programme. Through my work in Milltown at this time, I met wonderful men and women who have gone on to do great things for church and for theology. They continue to inspire me.
By 1989, it finally dawned on me that spirituality as a discipline had no real place in a theology faculty, although Sandra Schneiders had just published her groundbreaking article Spirituality in the Academy in Theological Studies (1989). The problem was not confined to Ireland; it was widespread. This is one reason why, in 1995, the Institute of Formative Spirituality, my Alma Mater at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, closed down and was reborn as a nonprofit Epiphany Association with its Academy of Formative Spirituality at Crane Street, Pittsburgh. Its place would henceforth be outside official academia but in service of the worldwide church and its in-depth quest for faith formation in everyday life.
Except for an occasional elective course, I no longer tried to teach van Kaams spirituality science. He was already into the sixth volume of his Formative Spirituality series (10) and was steadily moving into quantum physics, delineating his formation field theory with its five inter-dynamic, dialectical poles. I valued his theory but few had bought it! As I was now slipping almost exclusively into administration work, I decided to salvage something for spirituality by exploring at doctoral level the interface between spirituality and literature. I chose to do this at University College Dublins English Department by focusing on the work of Patrick Kavanagh. I already knew the spiritual power in his metaphors and the exciting mystical thread that ran through his work. Van Kaam had taught me that the human spirit goes beyond, through, over things in their appearances... and rests in the infinite Stillness that originates. I pictured the poet dishevelled with shoes untied, slovenly in his outer appearance yet spiritually vibrant interiorly and capable of expressing his spirituality in exquisite lyricism. Symbolically, winter was over for me. The work of this poet heralded for me a new spring!
The old cranky spinster is dead
Who fed us cold flesh.
And in the green meadow
The maiden of Spring is with child
By the Holy Ghost. (11)
What spirituality lay unexplored in the work of this Monaghan poet? Evelyn Underhills Practical Mysticism had ably demonstrated the mystical potential unconsciously present in ordinary people. I had studied her work closely and knew, with sound spiritual instinct, that Kavanagh had traces of a mystical imagination. But could I prove it? I was thoroughly familiar with his inner and outer landscapes, so I proceeded to apply a popular Dionysian methodology explicitated by Underhill to investigate this poet, who was poetically at home in the placeless heaven thats under all our noses. By now I had almost lost touch with van Kaams theory, but I knew he had given me sound tools by which to assess the spirituality of a poet.
Moving into a Second Relationship!
And so I moved into a second relationship! Kavanaghs genius deployed powerful metaphors to deal with the souls hunger and longing. Earth, clay, weeds, seeds, sheaves and harvest spoke also of the cultivation of spiritual territory - the harvesting of life. The intimate local place, where love and life begin was, for him, the universal doorway to life. Reading Kavanagh, researching his background, reclaimed for me my inheritance as an Irish woman, harvesting the nourishment that native landscape offers and penetrating with Kavanagh the hidden territories of the Irish soul. Glimpses of God peeked through the faces of primroses, bluebells and cut-away bogs. Light stared through the eyes of bridges, through the little window, that despite cramped circumstances lets in the sta . This poets philosophy dealt simultaneously with the cuts and bruises of life, yet found the courage to declare at the end: it is October over all my life. Thus was born The Mystical Imagination of Patrick Kavanagh: A Buttonhole in Heaven (Columba Press, 1998), my small contribution to the study of spirituality. When a Department of Spirituality was founded in Milltown Institute in 2001, I was ready to return to van Kaams formative spirituality theory but with Kavanagh also in tow. Sandra Schneiders academic conversation around defining spirituality as an academic discipline was (and still is), in full swing, with Bernard McGinn, Mary Frolich, Elizabeth Liebert and Kees Waaijman also in full voice. It is the deja vu experience par excellence!
Van Kaam has lost nothing in the interim, but is still that lone voice rarely quoted. The new explorers in the field of spirituality rarely mention his name. What a lesson from life! A writer can be so far ahead of his time that he can make himself invisible! Now in 2005, he is older and more fragile but has still completed his seven volume series of Formation Science and Anthropology, and has recently published with Dr Susan Muto, the first in their pending four-volume series on Formation Theology, (12) All who are indebted to this 21st century Aquinas! pray that he will one day receive the credit he deserves. Though some of his students (including myself) abandoned teaching his theory, one never forgot his foundational formative process. That was for life. Schneiders may now be to the forefront in defining spirituality. All the experts quote her, but I cannot help wondering if she has even a slight suspicion that someone has ploughed these fields before her! As for me, I acknowledge the initial investment in my spirituality by van Kaam and believe that justice will ultimately be done.
Home at Last!
In 2001 Dr Bernadette Flanagan, Dr Jack Finnegan and I drafted a programme which was to become a two-year Masters Programme in Applied Spirituality at the Milltown Institute. Within a year it was accredited by the States Higher Education Training and Awards Council (HETAC) and is in line recognition by the National University of Ireland (NUl). Though we did not particularly like the word i\pplied we had to break loose from anything that would bind us to a course of studies that might be judged exclusively in terms of established theological criteria. We already had a programme in Classical Spirituality solidly rooted in the history of spirituality. This new programme was designed to engage critically with human experience, explore its depth-dimension in a self-implicating way and deploy an interdisciplinary research methodology. Research would be theologically informed, but also integrate insights from cognate human sciences. Academically, I was at home in a flourishing Spirituality Department, the first of its kind in Ireland. Already students of spirituality acknowledge the shift of consciousness that has occurred for them through our teachings. They in turn by their research transform us and spur us to continually update ourselves spiritually and academically. And so, my path to spirituality has meandered, widened and deepened, from the foothills of Slieve Gullion, through France, to the US and back to my current spiritual home in Dublin. Here, in Milltown Institute, I am supported and inspired by friends, colleagues and students as I continue, these twenty years, to minister to the Word in a variety of ways. Writers as diverse as Kierkegaard, van Kaam, Muto, Underhill and Kavanagh have helped refashion and redefine my understanding of spirituality. I am still learning. My teaching has been sifted and transformed again and again by parents, family, teachers, colleagues, students and mentors at home and abroad. The poet Patrick Kavanagh reminds me gently that there is a little of October left in my season of spirituality to deliver the final fruits of lifes harvest.