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celtic christian spirituality

ever ancient ever new

An In-Person Retreat
with
the rev. Vincent Pizzuto, Ph.D.
& Penny Washbourn, Th.D.

Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19

Retreat Theme Since the early 19th century, the history, spirituality, and mysticism of Celtic Christianity has captured the imagination of Christians the world over. It is an ancient spiritual tradition that holds a certain modern romanticism, especially for those seeking inspiration from an ancient form of Christianity that seems to pre-date the rigidity and institutionalism of the modern church. It would seem, however, that in our attempt to mine the spiritual depths of this enigmatic tradition, many popular appropriations of Celtic Christian spirituality fail to do justice to the larger theological tradition. In this retreat, Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, PhD and Penny Washbourn, MBA will explore the history, beauty, and relevance of this ancient Christian tradition in new and exciting ways for modern Christians. The themes we will explore include Celtic Christian history and identity; the poetry, prayers and incantations of the Carmina Gadelica, and ancient Celtic rituals celebrated in new ways. We will also delve into the meaning of various symbols and spiritual concepts attributed to the ancient Celts, such the purpose of the Caim, the Celtic Cross, the Soul Friend (Anam Cara), as well as Thin Times and Places, among others. Conferences on the history and theology of the ancient Celts coupled with individual and group exercises, facilitated conversations, and outdoor rituals will unfold throughout the weekend to open the way for modern Christians to draw deeply from the riches of a spiritual tradition that is ever ancient and ever new.

The Rev. Vincent Pizzuto, Ph.D. is Professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Mysticism in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. He received his doctorate in New Testament Exegesis from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (2003) and has since published and presented internationally in the areas of New Testament christology, ecological discipleship, marriage equality, inter-religious dialogue, Christian mysticism and contemplative Christian spirituality. In 2018 he published his second book, Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life with Liturgical Press; translated in Spanish, Contemplar a Cristo: Los Evangelios y la vida interior, (Desclée de Brouwer) in January 2022. As an Episcopal priest Fr. Vincent serves as Vicar of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church and Retreat House in Inverness, California. Working for the advancement of contemplative Christianity, he has reinvigorated the mission and ministry of St. Columba’s through the introduction of contemplative eucharistic liturgies, public lectures, online coursesdirected retreatsthought provoking sermons and online blog. 

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Penny Washbourn, Th.D. Raised in England, a graduate of Nottingham University with a degree in Theology, Penny completed her doctorate at Union Theological Seminary, NYC in Philosophical Theology. Her thesis was in Process Theology and the Social Concept of Reality.  In her early career she was a pioneer in Feminist Theology and published Becoming Woman: The Quest for Wholeness in Female Experience and edited Seasons of Woman: Song, Poetry, Ritual, Prayer, Myth, Story (Harper and Row).  She was first discovered Celtic Christian blessing prayers for women in her search for indigenous and multicultural rituals that celebrate women’s experience through the life stages. 

Penny’s teaching career has spanned different institutions and types of students, in Canada and the US, in a variety of subjects including Modern Religious Thought, Women and Religion, Death and Dying, Management Ethics, Economics and the Christian Tradition, Great Books, and Organizational Behavior. She is a proponent of life-long learning and completed her MBA at St Mary’s College, CA, while on staff.  In retirement she conducted a deep study of Celtic Christian spirituality especially in the work of the eminent Celtic scholar, Esther De Waal.  Penny recollected that as a student at Nottingham University, she had babysat for the four de Waal children!

Penny became a virtual member of St. Columba’s in 2020, first attracted because of the Celtic liturgies. She is a member of the Council for Ecological Discipleship, Coordinator of the Outside Events Committee where she facilitates the Poetry and Spirituality series and the Celtic Music concert series. 

Penny Washbourn
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