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Living Theology 2023

Living Theology 2023

Friday 30th June – Sunday 2nd July

What is Living Theology?

The Living Theology Summer School has been organised by Jesuits and their associates in venues across the country for over 50 years. The courses continue to provide opportunities for Christians of all denominations to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and develop their personal reflection on Christian living and belief. No prior theological knowledge is required, just an open mind and willingness to engage.

At the moment, there are no available residential places for this course. However, we are still accepting bookings for non-residential places. If you’re interested in making a residential booking, we do have a waiting list in place.

The Courses

All participants follow the three lectures given by Michael Smith SJ, our Key Note Speaker. His Friday evening lecture is also a Public Lecture, to which everyone is welcome, even if not attending the rest of the weekend.
Participants then choose two other courses, one for Saturday and another for Sunday. Each course will consist of three presentations throughout the day. This makes it possible for those who are only able to attend on one day, to complete a full course.

Bench overlooking the sea from the Great Orme


Friday 30th June

(6 pm Supper for resident participants)
6.30 pm Registration begins for non-residential participants
7.15 Introduction to the Weekend
7.30 First Key Note Lecture
8.45 Tea/coffee

Saturday 1st July

(8 am Breakfast for resident participants)
8.30 am Registration for new participants
9.30 Morning Prayer
10.00 Lecture 1
11.00 Tea/coffee
11.30 Lecture 2
12.30 Lunch
2.00 Lecture 3
3.00 Tea/coffee
3.30 Key Note Lecture
5.00 Mass for Sunday
(6 pm Supper for resident participants)

Sunday 2nd July

As Saturday, finishing with
tea/coffee at 4.45 pm.


What is the Church for?

Lecturer:  Michael Smith SJ

Michael Smith SJMany people belong to a church or a particular faith. Jesus did – he was a faithful member of an ancient faith which even in his time was thousands of years old – the Jewish faith. Within twenty years or so of Jesus’ death, his followers began to group themselves into what we would now call a church. Over the centuries that followed this church spread and became what we might call a multi-national organisation, and split into groups which were often hostile to each other. But what is a church for? Our view of that question has changed over the centuries. We need to know what it’s for to make sure it is doing its job and to play our part in its work and its progress into the future.

Michael Smith is a Jesuit priest who works in the Jesuit Refugee Service and in adult education. His particular interest is the way in which our understanding of science and economics together works alongside God’s creation from the beginning and still continuing, and God’s continuing presence and action in the world.


There are four courses offered. Courses A and C will be taught on Saturday and repeated on Sunday. Course B will be taught on Saturday only, and Course D will be taught on Sunday only. So on Saturday, you have a choice of one course among A, B and C, and on Sunday you choose another course from A, C and D.

COURSE A Christ – Word and Image of God

Lecturer: Michael Barnes SJ (Saturday or Sunday)

How do we speak of the God who is beyond form without turning our words and representations into idols? The Fourth Gospel speaks of the Word of God dwelling amongst us, made flesh in our everyday world. In the liturgy we expect to listen to the Word, to read and pray over words that are inscribed in written texts. But what of other ways of encountering the Divine Mystery? To answer that question, maybe we need to remember that being human means responding to our world not just through hearing but through sight and touch – and maybe even taste. We should expect to use all the senses, as painters and sculptors do, in order to learn from and speak of our experience of God’s revelation in human form.

Mike Barnes SJ

Mike teaches theology and inter-religious relations at the University of Roehampton and the Margaret Beaufort Institute in the Cambridge Theological Federation. 

COURSE B Reading Galatians

Lecturer: Josette Zammit-Mangion IBVM (Saturday only)

Josette Zammit-Mangion IBVMOne of the earliest writings of the New Testament, the Letter to the Galatians is Paul’s response to a crisis in the early Christian community in Galatia. We will engage with the text to uncover the nature of the community and the dispute, thereby exploring some of the emerging theological and pastoral issues which were central to Paul and the early Christian church.

Josette is a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She works as a spiritual director and has an interest in New Testament Studies, particularly the letters of Paul.


God, Nature and the idea of a connected Nature

Lecturer: Fiona Ellis (Saturday or Sunday)

Fiona Ellis

What does it mean for nature to be connected? What kinds of living things within nature can make meaningful connections? What are the different modes of connection? And how are we to comprehend their values? The relations in which we stand to things are an obvious starting point. The questions here are whether a concern for nature should be centred upon human beings, whether things can be valued for reasons that go beyond human interests, and how exactly we move beyond a narrowly anthropocentric perspective. These are some of the fascinating questions we shall be exploring, and a central issue will concern the role played by God and religion in their resolution.

Fiona is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Roehampton.

COURSE D Inspiration

Lecturer: Michael Smith SJ (Sunday only)

From the time of Moses for thousands of years, there was one God. But hovering over everything, from the moment of creation onwards, was the Holy Spirit.
We are all, every human being, inspired and motivated by the Holy Spirit. In three great ways, holiness, prophecy, and virtue, the Holy Spirit directs the world to achieve through each of us the kingdom that God intended, of justice, love and peace. We seem to be far from that world, so this is a course about the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit proceeding from God the Father, how the Spirit works in each of us, and motivated and inspired by the Holy Spirit, how are we getting on? 

(For a photo and short biography please see Key Note Speaker)


Suggested Donation: £70 for the whole weekend. £35 for Saturday or Sunday only.  A non-refundable deposit of £10 is asked for when booking.

If attending the Public Lecture on Friday only, we ask for a donation of £5. If you are attending any other part of the weekend, this lecture is included in your donation.

Residential Places: Please enquire about the availability of residential places if required. Suggested donation: £170 (this includes course fee). Please make it clear on your booking form if you require accommodation, and include a £50 non-refundable deposit to secure your room. All accommodation is en-suite.

Please Note: It is important to us that nobody is excluded from our programmed events for financial reasons. Please speak to us if you would find difficulty in meeting the suggested offering. If on the other hand, you feel able to make an extra contribution towards a bursary fund, this would enable others to participate in our programme.

Catering: The suggested donation includes tea/coffee and a light lunch.

Parking: A car park is available at the Centre.

Bookings: Please fill in the booking form below and we will be in touch with how to pay the deposit, etc.

For further information: Please phone us on 01492 878031 or message us via our Contact Us page.

To book a place please complete the form below and we will be in touch to finalise your booking:

    Booking Form

    I wish to attend on the following days (please select):

    (No booking is needed if attending the Friday night lecture only)

    I wish to book the following courses:


    Please note: Courses A and C are repeated on Sunday. They are not a continuation of Saturday's courses.