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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

Eat Books

by Dr. Tom Neal . June 15, 2018 . 0 Comments

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and descri...

The Art of Dialogue

by Dr. Tom Neal . May 22, 2018 . 0 Comments

Discussion is impossible with someone who claims not to seek the truth, but already to possess it. (Romain Rolland) My youngest daughter and I were studying together the other evening for an exam she had the next da...

You Want It Darker

by Dr. Tom Neal . April 17, 2018 . 0 Comments

So this week while I was out of town staying at a hotel, I happened on an article about singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewishness and how it impacted his music. Knocked my socks off. I had heard his famous ...

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...