Biographies

Presenters

Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia is a modern-day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader. She divides her time between solitude at her seaside hermitage in Maine and a demanding schedule traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom paths. Cynthia is a core faculty member at the Center for Action and Contemplation alongside fellow teachers and colleagues James Finley and Richard Rohr.

Cynthia is a member of the GPIW (Global Peace Initiative for Women) Contemplative Council and recipient of the 2014 Contemplative Voices award from Shalem Institute. She is a founding Director of both The Contemplative Society and the Aspen Wisdom School. She continues to contribute to The Contemplative Society in her role as Principal Teacher and advisor.

Cynthia is the author of several books: The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, The Wisdom Jesus, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, Mystical Hope, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Chanting the Psalms, and Love is Stronger than Death. She was a principal collaborator with Ilia in producing Personal Transformation and a New Creation: the Spiritual Revolution of Beatrice Bruteau (Orbis, 2016), contributing the biography of Bruteau plus a major essay on Teilhard. Her explorations of Teilhard also figure prominently in the most recent edition of Oneing, published by the Center for Action and Contemplation, and in her forthcoming book, Another Intensity: Exploring the Imaginal Realm (Shambhala, 2020).

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Ilia Delio

Ilia Delio is a Franciscan sister, American theologian, and former scientist who continues the tradition of Teilhard de Chardin through an inspiring and groundbreaking theology at the intersection of religion and science. Integrating the universal truths of Christian thought with contemporary scientific insights—from consciousness and A.I., to evolution and complexity—her work sees the unfolding of the cosmos as an ever-intensifying “falling in love,” a love that is cosmically creative and increasingly conscious. Her vision of God and creation in mutual and deepening relationship is oriented toward life abundant and making all things new.

Ilia currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, and is the author of twenty books including Care for Creation (coauthored with Keith Warner and Pamela Woods) which won two Catholic Press Book Awards in 2009, first place for social concerns and second place in spirituality. Her book The Emergent Christ won a third place Catholic Press Book Award in 2011 for the area of Science and Religion. Her recent books include The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love (Orbis, 2013), which received the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award and a third place Catholic Press Association Award for Faith and Science. Most recently, her book Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness has been shortlisted for the 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize given by the Archbishop of Canterbury. She is the general editor of the Orbis Book Series, “Catholicity in an Evolving Universe,” of which several books have won Catholic Press Book Awards. Ilia is the recipient of two honorary doctorates, one from St. Francis University in 2015 and one from Sacred Heart University in 2020.
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Catherine Keller

Catherine Keller practices theology as a relation between ancient hints of ultimacy and current matters of urgency. As the George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology in the Theological School and Graduate Division of Religion of Drew University, she teaches courses in process, political, and ecological theology. She has all along mobilized, within and beyond Christian conversation, the transdisciplinary potential of feminist, philosophical and pluralist intersections with religion.

Her most recent books invite at once contemplative and social embodiments of our entangled difference: Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement (2014), Intercarnations: On the Possibility of Theology (2017), and Political Theology of the Earth: Our Planetary Emergency and the Struggle for a New Public (2018).

Since the start of the millennium she has served as executive director of the annual Drew Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium. These events have yielded 12 anthologies, mostly published by Fordham University Press; they include most recently Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and the New Materialisms (coedited with Mary Jane Rubenstein); Polydoxy: Theology of Multiplicity and Relation (coedited with Laurel Schneider); Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology (coedited with Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre and Elías Ortega-Aponte); and Toward a Theology of Eros: Transfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discourse (coedited with Virginia Burrus).

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Rami Shapiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, PhD is an award–winning author of over thirty–six books on religion, spirituality, and recovery. Rami co–directs the One River Foundation, is a Contributing Editor with Spirituality and Health magazine, hosts two podcasts— Essential Conversations with Rabbi Rami, and Conversations on the Edge—and a weekly Zoom “talk show” called Roadside Assistance at the Corner of Tohu va-Vohu (Wild and Chaos). He is an initiate of the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta Hinduism, a 32° Scottish Rite Mason (KCCH) and the 2020 recipient of the Huston Smith Award for Excellence in Inter-Spiritual Education. You can follow him on Twitter @rabbirami, Instagram, and Tumblr. For a longer bio check out his Wikipedia page.

Barbara Brown Taylor

Barbara Brown Taylor is a best-selling author, teacher, and Episcopal priest.  Her first memoir, Leaving Church, won an Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association in 2006.  Her next two books, An Altar in the World (2010) and Learning to Walk in the Dark (2015), earned places on the New York Times bestseller list.  She has served on the faculties of Piedmont College, Columbia Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, and the Certificate in Theological Studies program at Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Georgia.  In 2014 TIME included her on its annual list of Most Influential People; in 2015 she was named Georgia Woman of the Year; in 2016 she received the President’s Medal at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.  Her fourteenth book, Holy Envy, was released by HarperOne in March 2019.

You can find Barbara on Facebook and Goodreads.

Workshop Leaders

Andrew Del Rossi

Andrew Del Rossi’s professional journey has allowed him to serve as a theology teacher, service learning educator, campus minister, non-profit operator, and palliative care consultant for alternative and holistic therapies. He is currently publishing and presenting on spirituality and psychology, as well as creating a fully-immersive audio-visual meditation experience guided by Teilhard’s prayers and writings. Andrew resides in New Jersey with his wife and their two children.

Alison McCrary

Alison McCrary is tribal citizen of the Ani-Yun-Wiya United Cherokee Nation, a social justice movement lawyer, Catholic activist, restorative justice practitioner, and an internationally sought-after speaker on social justice, spirituality, and liberation. She currently serves as the Practitioner-In-Residence at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, a Spiritual Advisor on Louisiana’s death row, and the Movement Capacity Building Strategist supporting about 50 formerly-incarcerated-people-led non-profits in the United States.

She formerly served as the Statewide Campaign Manager for the Unanimous Jury Coalition abolishing a 138-year-old Jim Crow law in Louisiana, the founding Director of the Louisiana Re-Entry Mediation Program, the Executive Director of the National Police Accountability Project, President of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and Founding Director of the New Orleans Community-Police Mediation. As a 2010 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship in New Orleans, she challenged and changed policing practices and policies to transform relationships between police officers and the bearers of New Orleans’ indigenous cultural traditions. She works on issues related to criminal justice reform, environmental justice, immigrant rights, international human rights, cultural preservation, voting rights, disaster recovery, housing rights, and provides support to various social justice movements and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. Prior to law school, she worked at the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana providing litigation support on death penalty cases and at the United Nations monitoring the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions relating to women, peace, and security. In 2009, she was an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She received her J.D. from Loyola University’s College of Law in New Orleans and her B.A. in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She also completed coursework and programs at Johannes Gutenburg Universität in Mainz, Germany, University of Surrey in London, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Loyola University Chicago, and Catholic Theological Union.
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Margaret Ruth Mell

Margaret Ruth Mell is Visiting Assistant Professor of Practical Spirituality in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. She holds a doctorate from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA; a Master of Music also from Temple University; and Certifications in Spiral Dynamics, Generating Transformative Change, Leadership Pilgrimage, Integral Education, and Trauma-sensitive Mindfulness.

She is also the Founding Director of the Community Arts School (now titled MUSE), Oakland, CA; Director of Liturgy and of Music (Roman Catholic parishes); Instrumental Music Teacher; as well as professional musician in Classical, chamber, opera, and ballet orchestras on flute, piccolo, and alto flute.

Margaret’s life, work, and research merge at the dynamic intersections of sound and music, spirituality, creativity, and contemplative, developmental, and integrative pedagogies. In her research, she explores, evolves/expands/imagines, and works/improvises with emerging inter-cultural ways / manifestations of knowing, communicating, and acting in our contemporary world.

In her current practical spirituality classrooms, Margaret opens a space for students of all ages to explore a balanced variety of contemplative practices; develop a full-spectrum of whole-person, inner-outer awareness and consciousness; investigate diverse creative modalities; and, work with multiple ways to integrate theoretical learning with real-lived experiences.

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L.J. Milone

L.J. Milone serves as the Director of Faith Formation for a Catholic Church in Silver Spring, MD. He writes weekly articles for the bulletin on scripture and mysticism. He is the author of a book about Meister Eckhart called Nothing but God: The Everyday Mysticism of Meister Eckhart. He is working on a book on the mysticism of St. John of the Cross as well as a book of meditations on contemplation and divine nothingness. He teaches Centering Prayer and leads contemplative retreats in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He lives in Columbia, Maryland with his wife and four children.

Rhonda Miska

Rhonda Miska is a preacher, poet, essayist, practical theologian, lay minister, and community organizer rooted in the Dominican tradition. She studied at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and the Aquinas Institute and holds a certificate from the Spiritual Direction Institute. She has taught at Clarke University and Dominican University, accompanied immigrants and refugees in various contexts, served in leadership at a L’Arche-style community with adults with disabilities, and completed two years in Nicaragua as a Jesuit Volunteer. Rhonda currently ministers at the Church of St. Timothy in Blaine, Minnesota and as a spiritual director and writer. She is passionate about cultivating community, nurturing solidarity, engaging the arts as spiritual practice, and working for a more just and humane world. Learn more at www.rhondamiska.com

Mark Wallace

Mark I. Wallace, PhD is the Professor of Religion, Environmental Studies, and Interpretation Theory at Swarthmore College. At Swarthmore, he directs the ChesterSemester program in which college students work alongside Chester city partners in high-value internships focused on social and environmental justice. He has been a visiting professor at The University of Pennsylvania, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Japan International Christian University, and is core faculty for the U.S. State Department’s Institutes on Religious Pluralism at Temple University.

Recent books include When God Was a Bird: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World (Fordham University Press 2019), Green Christianity: Five Ways to a Sustainable Future (Fortress Press 2010) and Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature (Fortress Press 2005). His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Academy of Religion, and the National Endowment of the Humanities. On sabbatical, he recently followed in the footsteps of Teilhard de Chardin and visited the Paleolithic Niaux caves in SW France, which Teilhard and others had rediscovered and reinterpreted in the 1920s.
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Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

John F. Haught

John Haught is one of the most creative and constructive theologians in the field of science and religion, providing a brilliant and exhilarating analysis of what faith might mean in an age of science. Deeply influenced by philosophers and theologians such as Teilhard, Lonergan, Polanyi, and Whitehead, Haught’s contribution is intellectually adventurous, ever challenging his listeners to think anew about the much misunderstood relationship between religion and evolution.

His deep concern for issues such as ecology, transhumanism, the value of human life, and the meaning of suffering and death gives further depth and relevance to his analysis, offers a way for believers to think about how religion relates to discoveries in modern science, and, as a consequence, suggests the possibility of a robust and credible faith.

John Haught is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University and the author of 20 books, more than 100 book chapters and articles as well as hundreds of invited lectures and major academic presentations. Haught plumbs the profound depths of the universe and offers fresh insight into the biblical nature of hope. In order to clarify his position with the “New Atheists” and Creationists, folks who differ with his approach, he has engaged in countless stirring debates, and in 2005, testified as an expert witness at the “intelligent design” trial in Harrisburg.

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