spiritual life office
Welcome to the School of Theology Spiritual Life Office. This is a place where you are encouraged to explore a variety of spiritual practices, discovering those that speak most clearly to your head and heart. This is a community of welcoming friends, eager to listen and give witness, to learn from one another, and to discern the presence of God in our lives. This is a place for you. Welcome!
Holly Benzenhafer, Interim Spiritual Life Coordinator, is an ordained Baptist minister affiliated with Alliance of Baptists and a spiritual director trained through Haden Institute. She completed the MDiv degree with Spirituality concentration at Boston University School of Theology (STH) and received certification in Religion and Conflict Transformation through the Boston Theological Institute. Holly is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Practical Theology and Spirituality. With a focus on daily spiritual practice, Holly’s areas of research and practice include contemplative practices and pedagogy, dream studies, Celtic spirituality, intentional community, Sabbath-keeping, narrative, and creative/artistic engagement. She mentors a monthly guided intoning group and is a certified labyrinth facilitator through Veriditas. A former sociology professor, she blends the lived experience with theological reflection to explore how students may nurture their own spiritual forming and informing and then hold space for others. Holly is excited to be present with the STH community through the Spiritual Life Office. Stop by to get acquainted with her and to explore a treasure trove of opportunities for spiritual growth. Discover your own best practices to ignite your passion for abundant life. email@example.com
Bryanna Benedetti is the Graduate Assistant in the Spiritual Life Office. She is a 3rd year Master’s of Divinity Student. As a part of the Religion and Conflict Transformation program, she is interested in the interplay between spirituality, community engagement, holistic care, and restorative justice principles and practices, and hopes to find a career that enables her to merge her love of holistic care with her Catholic faith in chaplaincy.
Before coming to STH, Bryanna graduated from Whittier College with a BA in Moral and Ethical Development of Societies and spent the following year in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright student research grant, studying value development and social change in post-war Sri Lanka.
Bryanna is incredibly excited to be continuing her position as a member of the spiritual life team and can’t wait to use her organizational skills, genuine love of people, and affinity for arts and crafts to bring the STH community together in joy and prayer. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kourtni Brown is the Spiritual Life Contextual Education Intern for 2014-2015. Kourtni’s work with the Spiritual Life Office focuses on spirituality intersecting with religion. A third year MDiv student on the Religion and the Academy track, Kourtni hopes to work in academia one day as a historian, and sees the office as a way to help her understand what the needs of students really are.
Programs & Events
Semester Overview of Programs from the Spiritual Life Office
Want to see it all at once? Check out The Spiritual Life Flier for a semester’s overview.
Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:45-9:10am in Muelder Chapel, 3rd floor School of Theology.
Begin your day with prayer, song, scripture, reflection, and fellowship. This simple service is led by members of our STH community- students, faculty, and staff. Contact Laura Owen at email@example.com to volunteer your leadership for a service.
One professor who attends almost every day says, “It is a delight to pray alongside students; I hope they know how much I appreciate them.” The appreciation is mutual. Students comment:
“I love that I can begin my day with a retired bishop, an elder, a professor, and my friends in worship.”
“I am so focused and centered when I go to Morning Prayer.”
“I appreciate our simple ways of being in prayer. No two days are the same, except that each day we wrap our community in prayer.”
Wednesdays, 7:00am in Muelder Chapel, 3rd floor School of Theology
Prayer, song, scripture, reflection and fellowship held in Korean.
Mondays, March 30, May 4
Intoning in the Christian tradition builds on the ancient contemplative practice of breath prayer and invites us to deeply focus by moving between sound and silence in our meditation. It is also embodied prayer in that our bodies–through breath, voice, and sound–become resonant as we incorporate our whole selves in prayer with the parts of life for which language is inadequate. Intoning is both personal and communal prayer. This practice is fairly new to our STH, launched in the summer of 2012. No experience or expertise in singing needed. Come to open yourself to God in a new way.
Saturday Reading Retreats
These popular one day Study Retreats help students integrate the high calling of academic excellence with spiritual formation. A group of 30 or more gather on campus for a day of focused study, community, and worship. Most participants are students, but faculty and staff are eagerly welcomed too. The day’s rhythm revolves around three brief devotional gatherings in Muelder Chapel. Study intentions for the day are declared, and participants enjoy up to six hours of work time – in the library, classrooms, and gathering spaces. Some study together in cohorts, others on their own. Breakfast, a hearty hot lunch, and snacks are provided, all at no charge. Students are remarkably grateful for the Retreat gifts of food, devotion, and community. They are also generally surprised and delighted by how effective their study day was, resulting in shared victories of papers written, books read, research completed, and sermons imagined. At our evening devotions, comments are shared such as “I never had so much fun studying before. I like studying as a Team sport.”
Registration to the Spiritual life Office required, two days in advance. firstname.lastname@example.org
All STH Community Retreat: February 2016
Rolling Ridge Retreat Center, North Andover, MA http://www.rollingridge.org/. We will gather for a weekend of renewal, rest, and rejoicing along the beautiful lakeshore of Rolling Ridge Retreat Center. Our first retreat, “Beside Still Waters” in February 2012, drew 26 members of our community- students, staff, faulty, and spouses. Our second retreat, “Tree of Life” was just about at capacity with 39 attending. These weekends have been highlights of the entire year for many. Delicious food, gracious accommodations, and welcoming community made this a weekend to cherish. Opportunities abound to enjoy nature, walk a labyrinth, sing a song, light a candle, make a collage, rise early or sleep in, participate in large and small groups. A modest cost is charged for a grand weekend. Registration required.
We are honored to have four certified Spiritual Directors at STH, who are eager to assist your growing relationship with God. You may wish to discuss your initial interests with Holly Benzenhafer Redford, who will help you discern next steps. She can refer you to a Spiritual Director, or you may make a contact on your own. See Spiritual Direction for detailed information. There is no cost for Spiritual Direction, and meetings are held on campus.
Spiritual Renewal Retreats:
Funds and resources are available for students to take an off campus retreat. In the past students have spent days at a Benedictine monastery in NY, immersed themselves at a monastery in VT, attended a Yoga Institute in MA, made silent retreat at a Boston retreat center, and many more. Numerous options are available. Consult with Holly Benzenhafer to consider possibilities, and see Spiritual Retreats for more detailed information.
Vocation Vacation Alternative Spring Break
The inaugural STH Alternative Spring Break occurred in March 2012, with nine participants travelling to five states in an adventure of vocational discovery. We visited numerous ministry sites, from campus ministry, cloistered retreat, urban advocacy, emerging church, rural homeless shelter, to non-violence empowerment.
Offered every other year, the March 2016 “Vocation Vacation” will be planned by a team of students working through the Spiritual Life Office. More information will be coming in 2015.
Vocation Vacation Team, posing with STH alumna Lisa Gesson at Youth Services Opportunities Project (YSOP) in Manhattan. Ms. Gesson will receive a Distinguished Young Alumni/ae Award this fall, following her nomination by the most inspired Spring Break Team.