A first for Ireland

June 16, 2023 in Featured News, News

The seventh biennial international conference of the International Network for the Study of Spirituality (INSS) was held for the first time in Ireland, at the South East Technological University Waterford Campus, 16-18 May 2023. Over 160 people attended the event with participants and lecturers coming from all over the world.

The conference was organised by Michael O’Sullivan SJ of SpIRE » (the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education in Ireland ), who is the first Irish person to be elected to the board of the INSS.

In this interview with Pat Coyle, Michael O’Sullivan explains the background and development of the INNS and his role in it. He then outlines the various topics addressed by the five keynote speakers and over 80 parallel presenters. Those topics included spirituality and the environment, healthcare, widowhood, mysticism, business, social work, and secularism, to name only a few.

He also addresses in depth his own input on the area of spirituality and authenticity. (Click here to view his keynote address » on the SpIRE website.) He cites Karl Marx as an example of someone who can be read in terms of his engagement with what can be called his understanding of a spirituality of authenticity.

He also notes that anything we read can, in fact, become spiritual practice provided it is read in a manner that has the hallmarks of authenticity in the deepest sense, namely seeking the beautiful, the true, the good, and the loving in accordance with the dynamism for authenticity in human subjectivity disclosed through self-attention when we are engaged in knowing and choosing. “What makes reading spiritual,” says Dr O’Sullivan, “is not so much the material that is being read, (like a spiritual book), but rather how you are doing the reading.”

Dr O’Sullivan is the former director and a faculty member in the one-year MA in Applied Spirituality run by SpIRE and accredited by SETU Waterford. At present the year is almost full, with only one or two places available for the academic year 23/24. He explains how anyone interested can make contact.

The photo, courtesy of George Goulding, Staff Photographer at SETU, shows the members of the INSS Executive Committee at the conference: From left to right:
Assoc Prof Robyn Wrigley Carr, University of Divinity, Australia, Dr Joan Walton, York St John University, York, Chair of INSS, Dr Cheryl Hunt, University of Exeter, Vice Chair of INSS, Rev Dr Michael O’Sullivan, SpIRE, SETU, and University of the Free State, South Africa, Prof Melanie Rogers, University of Huddersfield, Prof Linda Ross, University of South Wales, and Prof Wilf McSherry, Staffordshire University, with Dr Suzanne Denieffe, Head of the School of Humanities, SETU Waterford, on the far left, and Dr Derek O’Byrne, Vice President for Academic Affairs, SETU Waterford, on the far right. Dr Cheryl Hunt gave the opening keynote, and is a founding member of INSS and the founding Editor of its journal, Journal for the Study of Spirituality.