For many people working on humanitarian causes, spirituality is the force that compels them to be engaged with the world. They may have a ministry to serve the poor or be an activist fighting for human rights. They may be Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or not adhere to any particular tradition. What they share is an engaged spirituality.
From our first project following the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles, CRCC’s research and training programs have sought to understand and support faith leaders committed to improving their communities. CRCC continues this work today by studying the lives and work of exemplary people committed to advancing human flourishing across the globe. The following page includes stories of such people, created by CRCC’s researchers and journalist fellows. From the individual stories, CRCC aims to define and establish a field of “spiritual exemplars” and understand how engaged spirituality operates in their lives. This endeavor is supported by the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust.
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Above, Maggie Gorban ministers to children in a slum on the outskirts of Cairo.
- AnnouncementNominate a Spiritual ExemplarDo you know someone who is changing the world? Is their work inspiring but not widely known? The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture is launching a global project on spiritual …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars
- CommentaryWhy They Cross the Mediterranean: Italy’s ‘Guardian Angel of Refugees’ in Conversation with a Survivor of the 2013 Lampedusa ShipwreckFor nearly 20 years, Eritrean Catholic Priest Mussie Zerai has fielded thousands of distress calls from refugees and migrants on shipwrecked vessels in the Mediterranean Sea. “I’ve heard the voices. I’ve heard …Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Engaged Spirituality, Europe, Immigration, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa
- VideoFather Mussie Zerai: The Migrant Priest
- VideoPassing on the Kindness: A Conversation on Faith and Social Entrepreneurship
- CommentaryStones that Have Weathered Many Storms: A Reporter’s Notebook from a Human Rights Defender’s Place of SolaceIn the rugged landscape of the Kotayk Province of Armenia, Geghard Monastery rises from an amphitheater of steep cliffs like a revelation. Even the long trek to the monastery complex, surrounded by …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Meditation and Prayer, Middle East and North Africa, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleLara Aharonian: Advocating for Armenia’s Vulnerable WomenThis article was originally published by Religion News Service, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. YEREVAN, Armenia (RNS) — Home for Lara Aharonian is this capital city whose architecture …Topics: Christians and Christianity, Engaged Spirituality, Gender and Sexuality, Middle East and North Africa, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleCaroline Bundy: Finding Grace for Homeless Youth and LGBTQ+ in AlabamaThis article was originally published by Alabama Political Reporter, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. Alabama’s governor recently signed a pair of bills—one criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth and …Topics: Christians and Christianity, Economic Inequality, Engaged Spirituality, Gender and Sexuality, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleTeresa Forcades: A Catholic Nun who Complicates the Abortion ConversationThis article was originally published by The Independent, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. It’s time to reimagine the debate around abortion. We are trapped in the tyranny of …Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Engaged Spirituality, Gender and Sexuality, Healthcare, Nuns and Women Religious, Public Health, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleRuth Messinger: The New York City Politician’s Long Second Act Honors ‘an Obligation to Respond’This article was originally published by Religion News Service, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. (RNS) — New Yorkers of a certain age remember Ruth Messinger as a city …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Gender and Sexuality, Jews and Judaism, Political Attitudes and Values, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleZannah Mustapha: Teaching Boko Haram’s kidsThis article was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA — One morning in May, Zina Mustapha stood before her 20 …Topics: Education, Engaged Spirituality, Muslims and Islam, Spiritual Exemplars, Violence
- ArticleFouzia Azizi: Refugee to Refugee, Afghan Resettlement Worker Draws from Faith and ExperienceThis article was originally published by Religion News Service, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. CONCORD, Calif. (RNS) — Sayed Hashmi, an Afghan citizen, did not want to leave his …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Immigration, Muslims and Islam, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleTom Catena: Choosing Joy Over HappinessThis article was originally published by Religion Unplugged, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. GIDEL, Sudan — The media is filled with articles on how to achieve happiness, including in …Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Engaged Spirituality, Healthcare, Public Health, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa, Violence
“Pessimism, cynicism, despair—these words are not in the vocabulary of spiritual exemplars such as Sister Rosemary and Jean. Instead, I kept hearing the words hope, compassion and love. What really struck me was their entrepreneurial spirit in the face of poverty and trauma. Perhaps visionary action is an antidote to paralyzing anxiety and fear.”
— Donald E. Miller, Countering Pessimism and Despair: An Encounter with two Spiritual Exemplars
To schedule an interview with one of our experts, please contact CRCC:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-743-1611
- Hebah FarragAssistant Director of ResearchHebah Farrag manages the center’s research and evaluation projects while engaging in research focused on religion, social change and new spiritualties.
- Donald E. MillerDirector of Strategic InitiativesDonald Miller focuses on global religious trends, genocides of the 20th century, and the role of religious NGOs in addressing issues of moral concern.
- Arpi MillerContributing FellowArpi Miller is a sociologist who studies secular and faith-based immigrant advocacy and accompaniment.