The 'return of religion' in the past few decades to public and political discourse demands a coherent and structured framework from the academic community within which current debates can be aired.
As the discourse of faith has demanded ever more urgent expression the scholarly community at St Mary's University decided in 2009 that the interaction of faith, belief and reconciliation needed to be expressed through resources available to the community at large, this prompted the formation of InSpiRe: the Centre for Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation.
The Role of St Mary's University
As a Catholic foundation, St Mary's takes seriously the necessity of serving the 'social' or 'common' good. From Pope Leo XIII's document, Rerum Novarum (1891) onwards the Catholic church has stressed the need for all people to understand that a vocation for good is not just for the individual, but for society as a whole. As the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales stated in their Common Good document of 1996:
'The general purpose of the Church's social teaching is to contribute to the formation of conscience as a basis for specific action… (this teaching) is not limited to a collection of official texts. It is an oral tradition as well as a written one, and it is a lived and living tradition' (CG 27)
St Mary’s takes this formation of a ‘social conscience’ seriously emphasising the dignity of the human person. As well as the creation of a social conscience in individuals St Mary’s stresses through its education the formation of the whole person: mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Thus the founders of InSpiRe felt that the work of the centre should explore all aspects of spirituality especially where it promotes social justice, sustainability and both the personal and common good. In fostering a unique research environment the centre promotes excellence of research at all levels of academic achievement.