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Photo Sorts and Stories

In general, Christian mysticism is the belief that union with the Divinity can be attained through contemplation, prayer, and self-surrender. This course is a continuation of the successful Spring 2021 pilot course exploring the history of mysticism.

Each week is dedicated to the study of a single mystic. Featured mystics include St. John of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi, Black Elk (Sioux seer), Simone Weil, and Sister Thea Bowman. A new instructor will guide each presentation and discussion.

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) was a Spanish Carmelite friar and presently one of the 36 Doctors of the Catholic Church. His poetry and studies on the development of the soul are considered the summit of Spanish mystical literature. Presented by Anna Rose Geary.

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), often called the “Mystic of Mystics,” loved all of creation and tried to see it through God's eyes.  Presented by Dr. Philip Klim.

Black Elk (1863-1950), was a Lakota Sioux holy man, whose life story Black Elk Speaks is considered “the North American bible of all tribes.”  Presented by Dave Pruett.

Simone Weil (1909-1943), was a French political activist, philosopher, and mystic whose writings deal with the absence of God and the problem of evil.  Presented by John Noffsinger.

Sister Thea Bowman (1937-1990), was a Black Catholic Franciscan Sister from Mississippi whose grandfather had been born a slave. An educator, she earned a PhD in 1972, became a popular speaker on faith and spirituality, and helped found the National Black Sisters’ Conference. Presented by Patty Huffman.

Instructors include:

Anna Rose Geary, OCDS, a public school teacher for 31 years and secular member of the Discalced Carmelite Order in the Catholic Church since 2009.  

Dr. Philip Klim, OFS, a retired physician and a Third Order Secular Franciscan in the Catholic Church since 1992.   

John Noffsinger, PhD, a retired teacher who taught for 38 years in Virginia independent schools.   

Dave Pruett, PhD, a retired JMU Professor of Mathematics and author of Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit.

Patty Huffman, former Pastoral Associate at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and Director of the Diocesan Pastoral Council for Catholic Bishops Walter Sullivan and Francis Di Lorenzo.


There are no scheduled sessions at this time. Sign up to be notified when this course is available.

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