“The love of neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say…’What are you going though?’

Only [one] capable of attention can do this.”  —Simone Weil 

We at SFTS celebrate the depth and beauty of the human spirit in its many cultural and religious expressions. We understand spiritual practice as a way to participate in the “mending of the world.” Our spirituality programs rest on the belief that we are called to awaken our hearts to others through practice, study, and community.

We offer a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction, as well as a Certificate in the Art of Spiritual Direction, Formation and World Engagement. Our on-campus sessions meet the requirements of both, or if you are interested in participating as a retreatant, you are welcome too!

Session One: January 7-11, 2019

Contemplative Listening

Rev. Roberto (Berto) Gandara-Perea and Rev. Hugh McPhail Grant

Contemplative Listening is a meditative discipline that helps us listen closely to what is said and not said. It is listening from the heart to the heart of another. In larger and smaller groups, we will engage a variety of listening and other contemplative practices that help us drop into an open space where another can be listened into speech. This session is offered as the pre-requisite for further work in the Certificate in Spiritual Direction, Formation, and World-Engagement as well as for the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. This session has the option of 1.5 credit hours additional academic study for those who are working toward a diploma. This session is also open to the wider community as a Spiritual Retreat.


Leading with Courage and Equity

Dr. Daeseop Yi and Dr. Gloria Burgess

Without being aware of who we are and why we are here, we can’t become who we are meant to be or use all of our God-given gifts. This course will explore enablers, obstacles, and resources to lead and serve with courage and equity in a diverse world. We will draw on diverse contemplative practices to become more aware of who we are, why we are here, and the importance of learning in an intentional community. This process of becoming ourselves will help spiritual directors, formation facilitators, and pastors to be more present to others and create a space in which the Holy Spirit can transform us. This session is also open to the wider community as a Spiritual Retreat.


Session Two: January 13-18, 2019


Dr. Beth Liebert

Dr. Liebert, one of the original Directors of the Program in Christian Spirituality at SFTS, continues her popular teaching with study of the theory and practice of discernment. This class is designed for second and third year Diploma and Certificate students and includes a 3-credit academic credit option. Course materials will be sent out in advance of the class so students can come prepared for further study.


Fundamentals of Spiritual Direction (Foundation course for all Spiritual Direction students)

Dr. Maria Bowen and Dr. Susan Phillips

This session is the continuation of the Contemplative Listening course and is required of new Certificate and Diploma students. It provides basic theory and practice for the work of spiritual direction. In addition to daily supervised practice sessions each afternoon, there will be a panel on multi-cultural and multi-racial issues in spiritual direction. Participation in this session is a prerequisite before spiritual direction students can begin to practice spiritual direction.




Session One

Non-residential: $1,520
Residential: $1,960

Session One & Two

Non-residential: $3,040
Residential: $3,910


Session One

Non-residential: $1,400
Residential: $1,840

Session One & Two

Non-residential: $2,800
Residential: $3,670


Session One ONLY

Non-residential: $1,350
Residential: $1,790


Meal costs are included in pricing.

All participants will receive a communal lunch on days when class is in session.

Those who elect to lodge on campus will have access to self-serve breakfast items.


Dr. Maria Bowen

Maria’s training in Inner Relationship Focusing & Intuition complements a PhD in Christian Spirituality earned from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

A teacher for the last thirty years,  Maria Tattu Bowen has more than twenty five years of experience as a spiritual director and retreat leader, and more than twenty as a supervisor and trainer of spiritual directors.

In addition to her work with Together in the Mystery, Maria serves as the co-director of supervision in the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction Program at San Francisco Theological Seminary and teaches in both Fairfield University’s Spiritual Direction Formation Program and CenterQuest School of Spiritual Direction.

Maria maintains a private practice in both spiritual direction and supervision in person in Morro Bay, California, and via telephone and Skype.

Maria has contributed essays to such publications as Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging Holy Mystery; Sacred is the Call:  Formation and Transformation in Spiritual Direction; and Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry.

Dr. Gloria Burgess

Dr. Gloria J. Burgess is a leadership consultant, executive coach, speaker, author, educator, and mentor. She also designs unique, innovative learning experiences, including Music for Transformation™, which is designed to inspire and equip leaders to reimagine their organizations, institutions, communities, and nations to achieve new heights of inclusion, innovation, and excellence. Her work is positioned at the nexus of leadership formation, spiritual formation, social and racial equity, and the arts. In her practice and work with clients, she draws on her expertise in theatre, music, poetry, dance, visual art, and design. Her focus is singular: individual and collective transformation.

A former business and human services executive, Dr. Burgess has served as interim college president; lead faculty; program lead; and visiting faculty at University of Washington’s (UW) Executive Leadership Program; UW’s Non-Profit Executive Leadership Institute; University of Southern California’s Executive Leadership Program; Seattle University’s Transformational Leadership Program; and numerous Executive Leadership Institutes designed for diverse corporate clients. She also leads leadership forums, seminars, and workshops on Sanctuary for Servant-leaders, UbuntuLeadership, and Transformational Leadership in spiritual, health care, educational, corporate, arts, government, civic, IT, and financial contexts.

A dynamic, sought-after speaker, Gloria has presented keynotes and forums in over 30 countries on six continents in diverse contexts, including Paraguay’s Office of the President, South African Embassy, Kenyan Parliament, Sankofa Leaders of Color Institute in Ghana, Boeing, Microsoft, AT&T, Starbucks, Women’s International Network, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IEDC’ – Bled School of Management, Fetzer Institute, and Center for Courage & Renewal. She weaves insightful commentary with personal engagement, integrating the arts into her presentations to foster courage, creativity, healing, hope, perseverance, possibility, and renewal—qualities we all yearn for and need.

Born in rural Mississippi, Gloria came of age during the turbulent Civil Rights era. Not unlike South Africa’s Apartheid system, the bigotry and cruelty she experienced made her better. “Growing up in the dehumanizing, horrific conditions in the US formed me into the leader I am today. Integrating moral, spiritual, and social justice into my work is not an option. It is an imperative—to inspire and equip leaders to serve in our interconnected, global community.”

Dr. Wendy Farley

A leading theologian, Wendy Farley has written extensively on women theologians and mystics, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices.

Professor Farley received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988. Her teaching and research interests include women theologians, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, spirituality and social justice, classical texts, and contemplative practices. Her first book, Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy (Westminster John Knox, 1990) considers the problem of evil by focusing on suffering rather than sin and abandons the forensic model of God in favor of one emphasizing compassion as a dominant metaphor for the divine. A second work, Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World (Penn State: 1996), also takes up the relationships between ethical and philosophical issues in religion. In 2005, she published The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth (Westminster John Knox), which combines attention to contemplative practices, folk traditions, and inter-religious dialogue to reflect on suffering and transformation. Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation (Westminster John Knox, 2011), reflects on the meaning of Christian faith and tradition for women, queers, and others that the church has had difficulty recognizing as part of the body of Christ. She also recently edited (with Emily Holmes) a collection of essays called Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion.

Her latest book, “The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics” (Westminster John Knox, 2015), explores the spirituality of medieval mystics Marguerite Porete, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Julian of Norwich. In Farley’s words, “These women have important things to tell us about our faith, the same as contemporary contemplatives, with the emphasis on divine love.”


Rev. Roberto (Berto) Gandara-Perea

From a young age, Berto has engaged in the quest for transformation through the practice and study of Christianity, as well as through his avid exploration of other spiritual and religious traditions.  A keen student of the arts, he uses and teaches photography as a means of contemplation, as a way to see creation with newly appreciative eyes.  With an open heart and mind, Berto enjoys encountering God in surprising places.
Berto was born in Puerto Rico and served for twenty years as a Redemptorist missionary in the Roman Catholic Church before becoming an Episcopalian in 2006 and being received as an Episcopal priest in 2009. He ministered as a priest in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Spain, Honduras, Ecuador, and New York City. He also worked for four years as a mental health counselor in an AIDS service organization in New York City.
He received a B.A. in Philosophy from the Universidad Central de Bayamón in Puerto Rico, a Licenciatura en Ciencias Religiosas from Seminario Pontificio Santo Tomás de Aquino in the Dominican Republic, a Diplôme de Catéchèse et Pastorale from L’Institut International Lumen Vitae in Belgium, a S.T.B. and S.T.L. from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca in Spain, and a Diploma in Anglican Studies from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He is currently the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Parish on Orcas Island in Washington state, where he lives with his spouse, Hugh M. Grant, and their dog Ava.

Rev. Hugh M. Grant, LICSW

With an attentive ear and compassionate heart, I seek to help people thrive and find peace and wholeness.  My learning and experience primarily come from three interwoven threads of study and exploration, as a clinical social worker, Episcopal priest, and wilderness guide.  The spiritual practices of deep listening, contemplative prayer, and immersion in nature ground and inform my work.  I am especially curious about the interplay between soul and spirit and the ways a human being embodies these, with each person living out a unique story that is bound inextricably to a larger, timeless story.  My educational background includes a B.A. degree in economics from Davidson College in NC, a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia, a Master of Theological Studies from Emory University, and a Master of Divinity from the General Theological Seminary.  Before seeking ordination, I practiced as a psychotherapist in Atlanta for ten years, working for AIDS service organizations, a county mental health clinic, and in private practice. After my seminary studies, I worked for five years as an assisting priest in an urban parish in New York.  I now serve as an assisting priest at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Orcas Island in Washginton State, where I have lived with my spouse Berto since 2014,   In addition to parish ministry, I offer spiritual direction, wilderness retreats, and psychotherapy.

Dr. Beth Liebert

Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, Professor of Spiritual Life and Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality (retired) is a pastoral theologian with a special interest in Christian spirituality. Her writing and teaching has focused on engaging pastoral leaders in spiritual practices in such a way that they can foster them in their congregations and organizations. She collaborated in the founding of the MDiv Concentration in Christian Spirituality, the Diplomas in the Art of Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation Studies, several emphases in the DMin including Pastor as Spiritual Leader, and the Certificate in Trauma and Spiritual Care. She continues to teach in these programs as time permits. She also serves on the doctoral faculty in Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Dr. Liebert is a past president of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. A member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a religious congregation dedicated to the full development of the human person through various educational and social ministries, Sr. Liebert was the first Roman Catholic to hold a tenured faculty position at SFTS and the first Roman Catholic to serve as Dean of a Presbyterian Seminary. She currently serves in formation for her religious congregation. Read more about Dr. Liebert here.

Dr. Susan Phillips

Susan S. Phillips has served as Executive Director at New College Berkeley since 1994, and prior to this role was the Academic Dean. Dr. Phillips is keenly interested in how we live our faith in daily life, drawing insight from the diverse fields of the social sciences, biblical spirituality, and practical theology. She is a sociologist and meets regularly with individuals for spiritual direction. She teaches in a wide range of contexts, serves as supervisor for spiritual directors, and consults for Christian organizations. In addition to being a regular contributor to summer classes at Regent College, she teaches at the Graduate Theological Union, Fuller Theological Seminary (Northern California), and San Francisco Theological Seminary (Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction). Dr. Phillips sat on the Board of Governors at Regent College for eight years and on the editorial boards of Radix, Presence, and Reflective Practice. Her most recent book is The Cultivated Life: From Ceaseless Striving to Receiving Joy. With her husband Steve, she worships at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, and has served there as an elder.

Dr. Daeseop Yi

Daeseop Daniel Yi, faculty advisor for Korean students at San Francisco Theological Seminary, is dedicated to understanding how humans can be their authentic selves and live their lives fully through various contemplative practices. This wholistic transformation and growth is interconnected with communal and social change. His main desire is to help people who are hungry for spirituality to find themselves and their vocations through spiritual direction (individual and group), supervision, various spiritual classes, and retreats.

Yi earned a Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality at Graduate Theological Union. He has been on the staff of SFTS’s Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program since 2008. He has also worked for many years as a pastor and chief of staff at a local church and in a campus ministry for young adults. His pursuit to integrate the discipline of psychology and other traditions (Buddhist mindfulness and body movement) with Christianity has helped others to be whole and to live their lives in an integral way.

Aside from giving spiritual direction and supervising spiritual directors, Yi has been teaching classes in lectio divina, centering prayer, spiritually informed pastoral care, spiritual formation, clearness committee, discernment and prayer, Spiritual Exercises, and other subjects at SFTS, Oikos University, New College Berkeley, and Journey Groups. He is interested in living ‘in between’ so that he can be a bridge between America and Korea and be creative in both cultures.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Wendy Farley, Director, Program in Christian Spirituality, Rice Family Chair in Spirituality 

415.451.2867 | wfarley@sfts.edu