Welcome C4C New Director of Operations and Programming
Center for Christogenesis Community,
Greetings! I am honored to begin my new position at the Center for Christogenesis as the Director of Operations and Programming. While my position is new, my relationship to the theology of Ilia Delio, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and the C4C is not. I know many of you through my work as the C4C’s own Christophany Group Coordinator, the classes I have taught with Robert Nicastro, and conferences I have worked on along with our outgoing Executive Director, Gregory Hansell. It is a joy to continue realizing the vision and mission of the C4C with Ilia and our extraordinary board.
I met Ilia Delio through a happy accident during the first semester of PhD coursework at Villanova University. The professor who was originally supposed to teach the course in which I was enrolled took a semester of parental leave, and Ilia took on the class. I was expecting an introduction to the traditional, Catholic theology that I had grown up with (it was my first semester of graduate school, after all), but what I experienced was an introduction to a new type of theology that, I became quickly convinced, could change the world. For sixteen weeks, I sat in the front of the classroom, asking question after question, and hanging onto every word that was said. I left the class with a new vision of science, culture, religion, and the need for a new way to envision the universe – with God as the fullness of love, the dynamic center at the heart of all creation.
Meeting Ilia Delio several years ago put my life on a new trajectory, and I was excited to continue being mentored by Ilia, and to embrace the Teilhardian vision that I encountered. Before long, I was brought on board to the Center for Christogenesis’ team. While I started as a volunteer, running the registration table at a conference in 2018, I quickly made connections and saw how vibrant the C4C community is. Alongside our Communications Director, Isabelle Robinson, and Executive Director, Gregory Hansell, I formally began working as the Christophany Group Coordinator in 2019. Getting to know these groups, along with simply being a part of the C4C community, only further deepened my love for the mission of the C4C and convinced me that spirituality and religion need a new role in our 21st century scientific-technological culture.
As we enter into the third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is undergoing a deeper crisis than we have ever seen before. COVID-19 has exacerbated already-existing global issues of climate change, political unrest, and systemic injustice. The headlines that come across our computers and phones each morning reveal not only ongoing conflicts, but also a deep rift between science and religion, and a culture unable to grapple with change. This rift between science and religion reveals the condition of our hearts – with science and religion seemingly opposed to one another, we do not know who or what to believe. In a recent article in New Creation magazine, Ilia Delio wrote:
“If science is the breadth of expansive knowledge, religion is the depth of knowledge, and only together can the breadth and depth of knowledge enliven the whole. Yet, science and religion are not on the same page; indeed, they seem to reflect different books of nature, one modern, the other, medieval. This void between science and religion has given rise to our jittery earth. Our hyper-anxious cosmos lacks any real identity; in philosophical terms, we lack a credible metaphysics.”
As I begin my tenure as Director of Programming and Operations at the C4C, I am focusing on how our center and community might be a part of building a credible metaphysics in the 21st century. While I was unaware of the change that I was undergoing when I first encountered the work of Ilia in that first semester of graduate school, I came to realize later that I am embracing a new center in myself – a Christic center in which my material and spiritual realities do not need to compete, but by understanding both of these realities in tandem, I am being moved toward a greater wholeness. I am embracing a new, credible metaphysics that gives me permission to explore new ideas about a world in evolution, a God who embraces change, and a God-World relationship in which I had a role.
It is more crucial than ever that the C4C uses its resources to help build a new world that extends beyond ancient philosophy on one hand and hyper-individualistic rationalism on the other. Teilhard de Chardin wrote that “there is something too narrow and something missing in the gospel as presented to us today… wider horizons, not a tighter rein – that, if I am not mistaken, is the only remedy that can effectively bring our generation back to the ways of truth.” And right he is! There is something too narrow in the Gospel’s presentation in a culture that has married religion to philosophy, with very little room for scientific discourse. From pulpits to TV screens, we need a new way to conceptualize and embrace the dynamic power of love in the universe that we name as God. Only when we are free to reason about God and world together can we begin to find a source of direction, and an outcome to the confusion that prevails on earth. When we devote ourselves to an openness to newness, to a metaphysics of love, we can become something new and create something new within the dynamic cosmos.
I could not be more excited or humbled by the work that is already before me. The C4C community is truly the space where Teilhard’s legacy is being lived to the fullest. It is a privilege to be a part of the life of the C4C and to help realize the Teilhardian vision of Ilia Delio, as we seek to create a new religious imagination that ignites our energies to move beyond mediocrity and fear, and anticipate a new future of planetary life. I look forward to working with you all.
Director of Operations and Programming
Jillian earned a BA in Theology and Philosophy from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI and her MTS in Systematic Theology and Spirituality from Villanova University. She is currently a PhD Candidate at Villanova University where she is writing a dissertation on Teilhardian Pedagogy for youth and adolescent students. She researches and publishes on the process theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, theological pedagogy, pedagogies of friendship, spirituality of care, religion and psychology, and environmental ethics.
Jillian is originally from Grand Rapids, MI where she worked as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. She has also served as a youth ministry advisor to rural Catholic parishes in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada. Jillian currently lives in Philadelphia, PA with her spouse, Bryant.
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