Australians are living longer and our society is an ageing society. This unit will explore the ways human ageing has been understood in the Bible and throughout the history of the Christian church(es). Recent theological explorations of ageing will be an important focus of the course unit. Special emphasis will be given to Catholic theology and the ways it contributes to an understanding of human ageing. Closely related to the theological inquiry will be a consideration of the way both Christian and non-Christian spiritualties have tried to understand and live with the reality of growing old.

Unit code: DS8632C

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Demonstrate an understanding of human ageing from theological and spiritual perspectives; a particular focus will be the Catholic theological tradition as well as the range of spiritualities to be found in the Catholic community


Evaluate critically the variety of theological approaches, especially Catholic, that explore the meanings of human ageing


Analyse the role and influence of spirituality in the lives of persons who age; the spiritual traditions within the Catholic life and practice will be a particular concern


Formulate the contribution that a theological understanding and a spiritual perspective bring to the experience of human ageing


Lectures, seminars, tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Coleman, P.G. Belief and Ageing. Spiritual Pathways in Later Life. Ageing and the Lifecourse Series. Edited by J. Phillips. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press 2011.
  • Confoy, M. Welcome, Inclusion, Attentive Presence: The Central Role of Pastoral Care in Catholic Health and Aged Care. Canberra: Catholic Health Australia, 2015.
  • Hauerwas, S., C.B. Stoneking, K. Meador, and D. Cloutier, eds. Growing Old in Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003.
  • Kimble, M.A., S.H. McFadden, J.W. Ellor, and J.J. Seeber, eds. Aging, Spirituality and Religion. A Handbook. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.
  • ———. Aging, Spirituality and Religion. A Handbook. Vol. 2. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.
  • MacKinlay, E. The Spiritual Dimension of Ageing. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2001.
  • ———. Spiritual Growth and Care in the Fourth Age of Life. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2006.
  • ———, ed. Ageing, Disability and Spirituality: Addressing the Challenge of Disability in Later Life. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2008.
  • Nouwen, H.J.M, and Gaffney W.J. Aging: The Fulfillment of Life. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1976.
  • Rohr, R. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. London: SPCK, 2012.
  • Swinton, J. Spirituality and Mental Health Care: Rediscovering a 'Forgotten' Dimension. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2001


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 3000 words

3000 50.0

Short paper 1500 words

1500 25.0

Short paper 1500 words

1500 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000