The Cleveland
Ecumenical Institute

Religious Studies

Spring Courses 2009

The Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies

All Creatures of Our God and King: Animals in the Bible and Theology

George Matejka, Ph.D.

Four Tuesdays, April 21 and April 28, May 5 and May 12, 2009 | $60 | 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

First Baptist Church | 3630 Fairmount Boulevard | Cleveland Heights, Ohio | 44118

The traditional interpretation of the Bible has been that God created the animals for humans to use. This course will

explore the rich diversity of biblical and theological texts regarding animals. We will explore several minority voices in

the history of Christian theology — writers such as St. Basil and St. Francis of Assisi, whose writings about animals have

been given scant attention over the centuries by the mainstream theological tradition. Does the Bible support a more

compassionate treatment of animals that the Christian tradition has overlooked? How does Jesus’ nonviolent behavior

challenge our attitudes concerning violence against animals?

George S. Matejka, Ph.D., a popular instructor for CEIRS, has served as the Chair of the Philosophy

Department of Ursuline College since 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Duquesne University and a License in

Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy where he specialized in biblical studies. He is the 2005

recipient of The Ursuline College Teaching Excellence Award.

St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises for Life and Every Day Living

John Ropar, Ph.D.

Lenten Retreat Workshop: Saturday, March 21, 2009 | $40 | 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Add $10 for lunch)

Ursuline College | Mullen Room 213 | 2550 Lander Road | Pepper Pike, Ohio | 44124

The approach to prayer and meditation developed by the 16th century founder of the Jesuits has remained alive and

current as a way to experience the sacred and improve everyday living. Dr. Ropar will present the history of St. Ignatius

and his “Exercises,” explaining their structure and how they are used today in the traditional 30-day retreat. Then he will

explore how concepts and practices such as “discernment,” “the examen,” “Magis, or bringing ‘more’ to our faith and

loving relationships,” “praying with fantasy,” ”praying with Scripture” and others can be used for daily prayer and self

care. There will be time for private reflection and peaceful meditation this first day of spring on Ursuline’s beautiful campus

with lake and labyrinth.

John S. Ropar, Ph.D., Director of the Counseling Center at John Carroll University, has taught in a prison,

has been clinical director for group homes for delinquent and chemically dependent adolescents, and has led immersion

experiences to Ecuador for 8 years, living and working in impoverished communities. He has also worked with the homeless

in Chicago and has done relief work in New Orleans. After a two-year education in the Ignatian Spirituality Institute, he

is certified as a spiritual director using the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. His Ph.D. is in counselor education. He is

married and has three young adult stepdaughters.

Three Easy Pieces–Spiritual Vitality in Our Contemporary Lives

Alison M. Benders, Ph.D.

After Easter Retreat Workshop: Saturday, April 25, 2009 | $40 | 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Add $10 for lunch)

Ursuline College | Mary Beaumont Dining Room | 2550 Lander Road | Pepper Pike, Ohio | 44124

The relationship of faith and reason has been a difficult one through the centuries, but Dr. Benders makes it easier to

understand through the three themes she will explore with you on this retreat day: She will draw upon St. Augustine’s

approach to understanding faith in the 5th century, then jump to the insights of theologian Karl Rahner to help us integrate

our faith with a contemporary worldview, and finally rest in the possibility of personally experiencing the grace of God,

as provocatively intimated in the writings of Teilhard de Chardin.

Alison M. Benders, Ph.D., who co-presented a well-attended workshop last spring on Women Mystics,

returns this spring with this retreat on Spirituality. Dr. Benders is the Dean of the Graduate and Professional School

at Ursuline College and a faculty member in the Graduate Ministry Program. She holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology

from Boston College where she specialized in comparative theology. A frequent presenter at local churches, Dr. Benders’

interests include spirituality, theological anthropology and moral theology.

Abrahamic Traditions–An Interfaith Dialogue on Faith Practices

Four Thursdays Remaining: March 5, April 2, May 7, and June 4 | Locations: March 5 and April 2: Fairmount

Temple | 23737 Fairmount Boulevard | Beachwood, Ohio | 44122 | May 7 and June 4: The Islamic Center of Cleveland

| 6055 W. 130th Street | Parma, Ohio | 44130 | $25 per session (includes dinner), or $80 for all four sessions.

A series of kosher supper sessions, supported by a grant from the Valparaiso Religious Practices Project. A panel consisting

of a Christian Minister (Rev. Clover Beal), a Jewish Rabbi (Rabbi Steve Segar and Rabbi Melinda Mersack) and

an Islamic Scholar (Ramez Islambouli), moderated by Sister Donna Wilhelm, Executive Director of Interact Cleveland,

will discuss religious practices from their own perspectives: Almsgiving/Compassion on March 5, Prayer on April

2, Sacred Study on May 7, and Holidays & Festivals on June 4. Each presentation will be followed by table

dialogue. This is a unique opportunity to participate in supportive interfaith dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual respect

and trust. Email or call Bernadette LaGuardia at 216-283-1507 for more details.

Make checks payable to Cleveland Ecumenical Institute. The cost of text books is not included in the registration fee. Deadline for

registrations is one week prior to the date the course begins. Scholarship aid is available for courses and special events.

To register for CEIRS courses, please use the registration form or contact Joe LaGuardia at 216-283-1507; email


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