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Touching the audience

Christian spirituality as an academic discipline has been developing now for some time. Last month marked another milestone in that development when the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS), the premier society of its kind, held its first international conference outside North America in South Africa. Michael O’Sullivan, SJ was a member of the planning committee. He chaired a panel of presentations, and gave a plenary paper on ‘Authentic Subjectivity and Social Transformation’ on the day Oscar Romero was beatified in El Salvador.

The Questions-and-Answers session about his “inspiring and excellent” paper led to a request to tell his story of working in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship and his experience in El Salvador. According to the feedback, his “powerful and moving sharing” brought the academic conference to a new level.

One strong affirmation came in a message from Viv Stacey: “I am not a regular at conferences these days, but I found the Spirasa one affirming and helpful – and delightful and moving. One memorable moment was your presentation and the sharing of your experience. I happened to be sitting behind a row of African women whose faces showed how you spoke to their experience and your story retold something of theirs (or ours)  in a healing way.  I am sure you appreciated that – but thank you from me. I would like to read your paper in a more leisurely way.  Not only its content but its s/Spirit touched something in me.”