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Dr. Tom Neal

Academic Dean and Professor of Spiritual Theology, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans, LA

Dr. Tom Neal presently serves as Academic Dean and Professor of Spiritual Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana and has a particular passion for exposing the unlimited potential of theology to offer the faithful a deeper sharing in the mind and heart of Jesus Christ. He has worked for twenty years in adult catechesis, retreat ministry and teaching theology in various contexts trying to make present for others the "Word made fresh." Tom received a Masters in Systematic Theology from Mount St. Mary's University and a PhD in Religion at Florida State University. His Masters studies focused on the Orthodox theology of salvation known as theosis, and his doctoral studies concentrated on the socio-historical contexts within which late medieval mysticism flourished in Spain. His dissertation was on the Teresian Carmelite reform and the construction of ascetical identity in the writings of St. John of the Cross.

While he loves to continue his work on general topics of spiritual theology, especially inasmuch as they relate to priestly formation, Tom has dedicated much of his energy more recently to theological reflection on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful to be "secular saints" whose essential labor is to consecrate the world itself to God by faithfully living out their personal vocations in the world. He believes that the Church has yet to produce a proper theology of "lay secularity" and, consequently, a robust vision of spirituality that is suited to those whose primary path to perfection is to be found in engaging in temporal, secular affairs. His hope is to make a small contribution to that development.

Originally from Rhode Island, Tom has lived over the years in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Florida, Iowa and (presently) New Orleans, Louisiana. His wife and four children live in Metairie, LA and they love being called to be saints among Saints.

Find more of Tom's writing at his blog, Neal Obstat.

Dr. Tom Neal Latest Blog Posts

Why You Should Crave Holy Fear

by Dr. Tom Neal . March 08, 2018 . 2 Comments

The desert father Abba Poemen once said, “These three things are the most helpful of all: fear of the Lord; prayer; and doing good to one’s neighbor.” Fear of the Lord is a largely unappreciated&n...

Mercy Is Free, But Never Cheap

by Dr. Tom Neal . February 15, 2018 . 1 Comments

A friend wrote me and asked me to respond to a question about mercy being considered a “cheap” way out of sin, as being forgiven seems just too quick and easy. Here was my email back: Mercy, like grace (x&aa...

Frittered Away by Detail

by Dr. Tom Neal . January 26, 2018 . 1 Comments

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify. — Henry David Thoreau My New Year’s Resolution is to cut away all the fat, all the excess, all the frivolous or directionless investments of...

Symphonic Faith

by Dr. Tom Neal . January 04, 2018 . 0 Comments

In the story I am recounting here, while I am preserving the core narrative and conversations, enough details about the actual person have been altered to make certain no particular person is identifiable. Over 20 ...

St. John of the Cross' Advice on Conquering Self-Love

by Dr. Tom Neal . December 14, 2017 . 2 Comments

Pope Francis has cautioned that the biggest enemy of mercy is “self-love.” St. John of the Cross agrees, and teaches that the greatest work of Divine mercy in us is God’s work of overcoming our distorte...