Welcome to the Hollister Institute

The Hollister Institute provides opportunities for stimulating discussion and thoughtful exploration for everyone, whether or not they are members of a church.  Courses are offered at St. Benedict’s Church in Los Osos.  For more information about Hollister courses, contact Donna Ross at donnaross@charter.net .

Winter-Spring 2015 Program

book jacket

Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love
Thursdays at 10 am, resumes April 16

To register for this discussion, email donnaross@charter.net To participate online, go to http://faithmatters.us/category/beasts/

This series of discussions at St. Benedict’s will encourage a fruitful dialogue between science and faith, discussing themes presented by Sister Elizabeth Johnson in her newest work, ASK THE BEASTS. Dr. Johnson outlines Darwin’s theory of evolution in a way that non-scientists can understand, and then builds a theological foundation for a Christianity that can work with – not against – science.  For a taste of Johnson's book, go to http://faithmatters.us/category/beasts/

A plea from scientists: As long ago as 1990, a group of scientists led by the atheist Carl Sagan issued a public appeal to religious groups, asking them to join scientists in a dialogue committed to preserving and cherishing the earth. Sagan wrote on behalf of the scientists, Problems of such magnitude and solutions demanding so broad a perspective must be recognized from the outset as having a religious as well as a scientific dimension… As scientists, many of us have had profound experiences of awe and reverence before the universe. We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred.

Join the dialogue: In the past century religious institutions have proved themselves very influential on issues of peace, human rights, and social justice. Now scientists have called religious groups to make the same bold commitment, this time to safeguard the earth. Elizabeth Johnson invites us to join this critical conversation. Discussions led by a team of scientists and theologians, artists and environmentalists, clergy and laity.

The first part of this course ran from January 15 through February 19. We will cover the second half of the book between April 16 and May 21.

ASK THE BEASTS: Darwin and the God of Love – PART II April 16-May 21

Topic                                                               Discussion date


Ch 5,  The Dwelling Place of God                     Apr 16            


Ch 6, Free, empowered creation                       Apr 23


Ch 7    All creation groaning                             Apr 30


  Ch 8    Bearer of great promise                         May 7


Ch 9    Enter the humans                                   May 14


Ch 10,  The community of creation                  May 21

For more information contact Donna Ross at donnaross@charter.net or Carol McPhee at slofitz@charter.net To purchase your copy of Ask the Beasts, go St Ben's shopping page, click on the Amazon icon, and search for ‘Johnson Ask the Beasts’.

Continuing Programs

Dream/Spirituality Group
first and third Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm

St. Ben's Drop-in Dream Group meets every first and third Thursday at St. Benedict's. The format is similar to twelve-step meetings: confidentiality is required regarding any dreams shared with the group, and sharing is not required (everyone supports by their presence). The group is "open" to newcomers but there is no commitment to attend on a regular basis. There are no instructional or workshop-related activities unless noted in advance. The interpretative assumptions and language are Jungian (see Robert Johnson's Inner Work).

Anyone who would like to be notified of future meetings should send an email address to Bob Pelfrey (bobpelfrey@charter.net).

For those interested in a year-long study

see the Education for Ministry program