The Four Women Doctors of the Church: Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen

A Spiritual Formation Elective



Oct. 25 - Nov. 20, 2020


Until 1970, the Vatican had never recognized a woman as a Doctor of the Church. There are now four: Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen. Despite living in different countries, centuries, and cultural contexts, these four women are boundless sources of wisdom and faith. During this class, we will explore the stories of these visionaries: the groundbreaking writings of Teresa of Ávila; the compassion of Catherine of Siena; the heartfelt "Little Way" of Thérèse of Lisieux; and finally, the expansive wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen.

This class is open to all regardless of their participation in the Spiritual Formation Certificate Program. If you are interested in learning more about the certificate program, please e-mail us for details  or visit the Spiritual Formation website.


Sister Kathleen Flood, OP, has been a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa for more than 35 years. She holds a D.Min. in Christian spirituality. Sr. Kathleen served as director of campus ministry at Edgewood College, Madison, Wis.; as pastoral staff at Loyola University, Chicago; and as chaplain at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. She is the co-founder of Stillpoint Inc., offering programs in spiritual direction and contemplative prayer, and ministered as the administrator there for 19 years before retiring in 2014. She has taught extensively with several Academy of Spiritual Formation classes through The Upper Room Ministries. Currently, Sr. Kathleen is doing research for a book on Saint Catherine of Siena, OP, a 14th-century Dominican.


Please do your best to read the required books before the class begins. Participants in the Spiritual Formation Certificate Program should prepare a one-paragraph reflection for each required book; these should be uploaded the before the first day of class. Guidelines for reading and writing your reflections can be found in the program's handbook.

If you are taking the class for personal enrichment and do not plan to seek the certificate, the reflections are not required. However, we strongly encourage you to read the texts to get as much as possible from the class time. 


Mary T. Malone. Four Women Doctors of the Church: Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of Lisieux. Orbis Books, 2017.

Elizabeth A. Dreyer. Accidental Theologians: Four Women Who Shaped Christianity. Franciscan Media, 2014.


The fee for this class is $250.


At the beginning of each of the four-week sessions, we will upload new material to the class website. Participants should watch the instructor video and review reading material as outlined in the syllabus. On Wednesday of each week, there will be a prayer practice to participate in and questions provided to reflect upon before Friday. On Fridays from 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET, Sr. Kathleen will be available in a live webinar to answer questions prompted by your reflections.


2.0 continuing education units are available upon request. To ask for a certificate, e-mail the Continuing Education Office.


E-mail or call 412-924-1345 with questions.