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DENISE  STARKEY is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and the Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at The College of St. Scholastica. She is the recipient of the 1st Benedictine Professor of General Education Award. Her academic interests include Feminist, Liberation and Political Theologies; Spirituality and Mystical Theology; Christian Ethics and Social Justice; Feminist Theory/Philosophy/Ethics; and Theology and Psychology. Denise received her Ph.D. in Constructive Theology (with highest honors) from Loyola University-Chicago. She is the author of The Shame that Lingers: A Survivor-centered Critique of Catholic Sin-talk (2009) and a contributing author to Religion and Men’s Violence Against Women (2015). Her current research explores practices of pilgrimage and multiple religious belonging in order to construct a nomadic spirituality of home for survivors of violence. She is also president of the Board of Directors of the FaithTrust Institute, a national, multifaith organization working to end sexual and domestic violence.


Ph.D. Constructive Theology

Loyola University Chicago

Work Shared in CORE

Book chapters

Other Publications

The Shame that Lingers: A Survivor-centered Critique of Catholic Sin-Talk

Blog Posts


    A Nomadic Spirituality of Home: An Alternative Map for Survivors of Violence

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies UK

    December 2017

    A Nomadic Spirituality of Home: Pilgrimage as Homemaking
    “The sense of being lost, displaced, and homeless is pervasive in contemporary culture” (Walter Brueggeman). It is the cost of survival for many women survivors of interpersonal violence. Spiritual homelessness is the way that I name the lingering experience of displacement that persists even when physical shelter is found. Many survivors mime normalcy and religious narratives in order to find belonging in a place not their own. At the same time, many women on a healing journey find they are unable to adapt to dominant, mostly masculine, metaphors for God or explanations of suffering or salvation that do not illuminate their experiences. So, they search elsewhere. This is a healing, and I would argue, a holy quest that is often misunderstood and judged. A false stability is prized over what is misnamed as instability. My project constructs a nomadic spirituality of home that requires traveling beyond conventional metaphors and notions of home as destination in an afterlife while also mining resources and practices within religious traditions not readily available to the person who wanders or the one in the pew. In this paper I suggest that the universal and ancient practice of pilgrimage reveals liberative ways to “make home” that transcend problematic gendered understandings of home (using Simone de Beauvoir) while also constructing healing meanings and practices. The practice and metaphor of pilgrimage (informed by the classic work of Edith and Victor Turner) opens up imaginative ways to explore the liminality of one’s self “on pilgrimage,” as Dorothy Day expressed it. Pilgrimage as homemaking offers ways to explore that God travels with us and makes her home within us. This work offers a constructive proposal that draws on mystical theology, feminist philosophy, and qualitative studies of pilgrimage.


    American Academy of Religion

    Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality


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