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Keynote Speakers

Cheryl Holmes, OAM

"Looking back before rushing forward": turning points in the development of spiritual care



Synopsis of keynote presentation

Creating a vision for the future requires knowledge of the past (ensuring that we neither make the same mistakes, nor re-invent the wheel) and a deep understanding of and immersion in the current context. There is a saying that states, “we study the past to understand the present; we understand the present to guide the future”. This presentation will provide insights into the factors and influences that have shaped spiritual care through findings from my current PhD studies. It is proposed that these insights can inform future planning for the full integration of spiritual care in health care.

Cheryl Holmes OAM biography

Cheryl has had extensive training and professional experience in healthcare, spiritual care and organisational change and management. She began employment as a speech pathologist before moving into spiritual care positions at state and national levels. She was appointed Chief Executive Officer to Spiritual Health Association in 2002. She completed a Masters in 2014 focused on management & leadership and commenced a PhD in 2016 exploring the narratives shaping spiritual care in Victorian public hospitals. She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her spiritual care roles in the health sector on Australia Day 2015. Cheryl is married to Scott, and they have three sons, two grandchildren, two spoilt dogs and a geriatric cat..

Professor Tove Giske

Professional formation – a lifelong journey of balancing courage and vulnerability in patient care


Synopsis of keynote presentation

The keynote will address ways to support student learning of spiritual care both at the university and in clinical placements as well as how healthcare professionals can continue to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes related to spiritual care. It is a lifelong learning and maturation process to overcome own boundaries and to balance oneself in the profession in ways so patients feel acknowledges as a whole person.

Professor Tove Giske biography

Tove Giske is a Professor in Nursing and works as a teacher and researcher at VID Specialized University, Faculty of Health Studies, Bergen, Norway, where she also serves as the Director of Research and Development. She has researched and published internationally about spiritual care. She has collaborated with Professor Pamela Cone for almost 20 years, and they have published a Handbook about Spiritual Care together in Norwegian; an English version is on the way. Tove has been a part of a European spiritual care network, which now has developed into the EPICC network ( She has developed an interest in how to serve nurses internationally since 1984. As President of Nurses Christian Fellowship International she seeks ways to teach and serve nurses around the world. Tove is married to Jarl and has three children and one grandchild. She likes gardening, cooking, knitting and travelling.

Dr Stephen J. Costello

Etty Hillesum's spiritual search



Synopsis of keynote presentation

More than just a young Jewish girl who was arrested by the Nazis and died in Auschwitz, Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) is a woman of wisdom, a heroine of the Holocaust, and a modern mystic. She left behind a remarkable testimony - her spiritual diary, and letters which will be the subject of this talk.

Dr Stephen J. Costello biography

Dr Stephen J. Costello is a prominent philosopher and psychoanalyst. He was educated at St. Gerard's School, Castleknock College and University College Dublin, where he gained a BA, MA and PhD degree in philosophy. Dr Costello is founder-director of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland. He is a Diplomate in Logotherapy (US) and holds a Diploma in Logotherapy and Existential Analysis from Vienna. He is a member of the International Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, as well as the Federation for Existential Therapy in Europe which is a member of the European Association of Psychotherapy. He is the author of 11 books including one national bestseller. He has addressed two parliaments - Stormont on human rights and the European Parliament in Brussels on meaning and mental health. He holds a black belt in Aikido.

Professor Bernadette Flanagan

Approaching research with spiritual care in mind


Synopsis of keynote presentation

Although spiritual care has in the past been primarilty viewed within the domain of religious beliefs, a more contemporary perspective is that the capacity for spiritual care is a core part of the human person. Spiritual care involves capacities for attentiveness, awareness, presence, compassion and heartfulness. As we know, the tools available to us for research deeply impact on our findings, a faulty scales will produce faulty weights. If we are to research the spiritual care needs of populations we presume that our own inner capacities for reading, registering and analysing the dispositions of authentic spiritual care have been well developed. How do we prepare therefore to research spiritual care with spiritual care?

Professor Bernadette Flanagan biography

Bernadette Flanagan has led the development of MA and professional doctoral studies in spirituality for the past 20 years. She is the Chairperson of the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE), Dublin, Ireland. She oversees spirituality research on the MA in Applied Spirituality for the South East Technological University, Waterford. Her most recent publication (with Laszlo Zsolnai) is the edited volume, The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions (2019). This collection of essays by professional specialists offers accessible, diverse, and engaging international research on a wide range of fields of spirituality inquiry, including ageing and addiction, psychology, religious studies, sociology, business studies, and philosophy. Bernadette’s research students have explored spiritual dimensions of motherhood; cyber-space; tourism; leadership; and chronic illness.