Kathleen McALPIN, Ministry That Transforms: A Contemplative Process of Theological Reflection. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009. pp.147. $15.95 pb. ISBN 978-0-8146-3222-2.
Reviewed by Marie CONN, Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA 19118

McAlpin’s theme is that ministry is a transformative act. She develops this, in a highly readable and clear style, through the lens of the volunteers at Romero House, an organization in Toronto that works with refugees.

The first part of the book deals with theological and educational assumptions. McAlpin defines all the relevant terms, so that the reader can easily follow the progression of the material. For example, she defines theological reflection as “a process used by Christians to become aware of the living God in the context of everyday life.” (7) McAlpin interweaves the theological aspects of her argument with insights James and Evelyn Whitehead and Mary Sheehan, as well as methods gleaned from theories of adult education.

After the first part of the book has developed the theory, the second applies the theory and suggests a design for what McAlpin calls “a contemplative theological reflection model.” (29ff.) In this part we spend quite a bit of time with participants from Romero House, hearing their stories, which the author presents as models. The final chapters explicate her four points: contemplating experience; exploring the context; reflecting from and with the faith tradition; and integrating spirituality into the reflection process.

Although some may find this book too narrowly focused, there is much to commend it. It would serve as a useful resource for anyone involved in the many forms of ministry.


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