About Epiphany Association
The Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality is the main subsidiary through which the Epiphany Association fulfills its commitment to promote the teaching, research and publication of formative spirituality and in-depth adult formation. We are committed to ongoing spiritual formation for Christian laity, clergy, and religious — the heart of a transformed world is the transformation of hearts [Adrian van Kaam, CSSp, PhD].
Ours is a formational and an educational ministry in the deepest sense of these terms. Epiphany brings people together to engage with the classics of Spirituality, read the Word of God, and discover the richness of a spiritual journey marked by a true metanoia of heart, which involves a deepening understanding of the dynamics of our human and Christian formation, reformation, and transformation.
The Epiphany Association is an international organization whose prototype began in the 1940’s with the pioneering work of Fr. Adrian van Kaam, CSSp, PhD. We specialize in the field of “Formative Spirituality” — a universally relevant science, anthropology and theology of formation — that is disseminated through our teaching, programming, and publications including books, articles, audio, and video resources.
In addition, we are deeply committed to the promotion of the literature of spirituality, specifically the ancient, medieval, and modern Christian masters, and strive to offer unique opportunities for lifelong, in-depth formation of the human and Christian heart.
Upon the sale of the Academy building in December of 2023, Epiphany has entered a new phase of outreach in 2024 that involves digital programming and course content. Be sure to peruse our online bookstore, which features the writings and teaching of Fr. Adrian van Kaam and Dr. Susan Muto. And we welcome you to learn more about our outreach and mission as you explore our website.
HISTORY AND MISSION
Our mission is dedicated to the facilitation of a lifelong pursuit of ongoing, in-depth spiritual formation and service as the world headquarters for study and training in the field of formative spirituality. Co-founded in 1979 by Fr. Adrian van Kaam, CSSp, PhD (1920-2007) and Susan Muto, PhD, Epiphany is dedicated to dissemination, research, publication, and teaching. The Epiphany Association is registered as a non-profit, 501(c) (3) entity incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
VAN KAAM’S EARLY YEARS
Fr. Adrian was born in The Hague, Netherlands in 1920. He entered the minor seminary of the Holy Ghost fathers in Weert at the age of 12, and professed his vows in 1940. While attending major seminary in Gemert during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, van Kaam was trapped behind Nazi front lines and endured the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944. His humanitarian efforts during this time inspired a model for spiritual encounter and a humane ‘science of meaning’ that served as the seedbed of his life’s work in formative spirituality. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1946, van Kaam became a seminary professor, his health being too frail to accommodate life as a missionary as he had desired. He spent his post-war years in Holland as a professor of philosophical anthropology at the Holy Ghost seminary in Gemert, and also joined the faculty of the Dutch Life Schools of Formation for Young Adults, a nationwide program aiming to serve the social and spiritual formation of young laborers. During this time, Fr. Adrian also attained higher degrees in pedagogy (the education of children) and andragogy (the education of adults), exploring the interactions between learning, the formation of our human character, and personality. At the same time, van Kaam perfected his practices of pastoral counseling and spiritual direction in the Dutch Governmental Psychological Observation Center for Juvenile Delinquents at Kamp Overberg, Veenendaal, Holland. He published his findings in prestigious Dutch journals and gained a reputation for experiential thinking and practice in various therapeutic settings.
DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY ERA
Van Kaam arrived in the United States in August of 1954 and shortly thereafter became an American citizen. Although he had hoped to continue on a full-time basis the work he had begun in Holland, he accepted the challenge to develop a new program in humanistic psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and was appointed as a faculty member in the Psychology Department. In addition, Fr. Adrian pursued his doctorate in psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, completing his dissertation in 1958 which drew upon his earlier Dutch degrees in educational theory and practice. In 1963, van Kaam founded the Institute of Man at Duquesne, dedicated to the graduate-level study of spiritual formation, religious education, and psychology as a human science.
As a professor in phenomenological psychology at Duquesne during the 1960’s, van Kaam brought to light the findings of such European thinkers as Jacques Maritain, Max Scheler, Gabriel Marcel, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and William Luijpen. They probed such existential questions as: Who are we most deeply? How do our situations impact us? Why do some people maintain hope, while others — in the same difficult circumstances — choose a downward plunge into despair? Van Kaam’s approach centered on the formation of the human heart, the dispositions engendered there, and the configuration of dispositions that ultimately constitute our human and Christian character.
Around this time, client-centered approaches to psychological counseling began to flourish, notably under the influence of Carl Rogers and Gordon Allport, colleagues of Adrian’s, who, like him, chose to pursue a humanistic view of counseling that was more encounter-oriented. Adrian himself participated in training programs at the Alfred Adler Institute under Drs. Rudolf Dreikurs and Heinz Ansbacher. He studied personality theory under Abraham Maslow and Kurt Goldstein at Brandeis University, and sharpened his psycho-therapy skills under Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago. Van Kaam also consulted with existential thinkers of the time including Henry Elkin, Rollo May, and Erik Erikson — not only to be apprised of their work, but also to keep his students informed of the rapid developments unfolding in this field. He also served as a visiting professor at Brandeis University, taking the place of Abraham Maslow while Maslow was on sabbatical leave, an honor which spoke to how much he was both accepted and consulted in the mainstream of the humanistic psychology movement. Van Kaam received the President’s Award for Excellence in teaching at Duquesne; remained as the Institute’s director until 1980; and continued his tenure at Duquesne until the closing of the Institute of Formative Spirituality in 1993.
Dr. Susan Muto met Father Adrian in 1966, leaving a career in journalism to serve as Assistant Director of Duquesne’s Institute of Man, which van Kaam had established in 1963. [Eventually the Institute of Man separated from the Psychology Department and was renamed the Institute of Formative Spirituality (IFS)]. A 40+ era of collaboration between van Kaam and Muto was thus initiated. At the Institute, van Kaam was able to return to his original commitment to educate laity, clergy, and religious in fully human, fully Christian, faith-based formation. Fr. Adrian complemented his own teaching, writing, and speaking by serving as consulting editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, the Journal of Individual Psychology, and the Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry. In addition to these publications, the IFS also offered two other journals during its existence, Studies in Formative Spirituality and the Journal of Spiritual Formation. By 1979, Fr. Adrian had initiated a six-semester core curriculum as well as an accredited PhD program within the IFS. In 1980, Fr. Adrian suffered a significant heart attack, and subsequently asked Dr. Susan Muto to assume the directorship of the Institute. She served in this role for the next eight years.
FOUNDING OF THE EPIPHANY ASSOCIATION
With the help of a dedicated group of friends and benefactors, van Kaam and Muto co-founded the Epiphany Association in 1979 while they were still faculty members at Duquesne. The establishment of the independent, non-profit Association served to accommodate van Kaam and Muto’s ministerial work in faith formation outside of the university setting. Under its auspices, Fr. Adrian was also able to complete the “crowning phase” of his body of writing, namely the seven-volume Formative Spirituality series on the science and anthropology of formation, as well as the four-volume Formation Theology series that he co-authored with Dr. Susan Muto. Dr. Muto resigned her full-time tenured professorship at Duquesne when she assumed the role of Executive Director at Epiphany in 1988.
After being housed in various Pittsburgh locales for over twenty years, the Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality opened its doors in 2001 in a beautiful setting on Crane Avenue in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Van Kaam continued to be actively involved in its ecumenical mission. This always joyful and humble man of God died quietly of complications due to pneumonia in 2007, leaving behind as his legacy a visionary body of work from which countless students, scholars, and formators continue to benefit. He was and remained a Christian psychologist, generating a theoretical and practical approach to character and personality formation that from the beginning would be conducive to and compatible with the Christian Revelation. Collectively termed “formative spirituality,” van Kaam initiated the three interweaving approaches (formation science, formation anthropology, and formation theology) that would take into account the psychology of human development while going beyond it, in order to pursue the meaning of the forming, reforming, and transforming relationships that characterize our human and Christian journey from birth to death. Throughout these seminal years of writing and teaching, Fr. Adrian faithfully pursued his life call to generate a theoretical and practical approach to holistic, human, and Christian character and personality formation.
EPIPHANY’S CONTINUED MISSION
Upon the sale of the Academy’s building in December of 2023, the Epiphany Association entered an exciting new phase of its mission, dedicated to the dissemination and teaching of Formative Spirituality in creative and new ways. Epiphany continues to engage students and all of those interested in deepening their study of in-depth spiritual formation, and is committed to serving a community of laity, clergy, and religious in ecumenically sensitive ways. Our online Bookstore features the writings and videos of Fr. Adrian van Kaam and Dr. Susan Muto, and soon we hope to offer a digital platform that will feature many types of courses and content related to the field of Formative Spirituality.
A Message from the dean
Spiritual Formation, or to use our preferred term “Formative Spirituality,” facilitates our openness to the transcendent dimension of life while enhancing our participation in every aspect of personal and shared responsibility. Our purpose is to unfold slowly, methodically, and consistently a basic, universal, and classical approach to the process of Spirit-guided formation, re-formation and graced transformation in accordance with our unique-communal life call in Trinitarian love.
The Epiphany Association offers the kind of ongoing formation that lasts and outlasts life’s many transitions. I invite you to access our unique, in-depth courses in Formative Spirituality here at the Epiphany!