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~ 2021 Presenters ~



We welcome Catherine back to AwakeningSoul. Catherine Meeks, PhD, is Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta. She is a sought-after teacher and workshop leader. The core of her work has been with people who have been marginalized because of economic status, race, gender, or physical ability as they pursue liberation, justice and access to resources that can help lead them to health, wellness and a more abundant life. This work grows out of her understanding of her call to the vocation of teacher as well as her realization that all of humanity is one family which God desires to unite.

Catherine is the retired Clara Carter Acree Distinguished Professor of Socio-Cultural Studies from Wesleyan College and Founding Executive Director of the Lane Center for Community Engagement and Service. She characterizes herself as a midwife to the soul of her students and workshop participants. She has spent many years sharing the insights that she gained from her pursuit of the truth. She has had many great teachers including her sons, the Bible, Jungian psychology, cross cultural stories, and other books of wisdom. But her greatest teacher is rheumatoid arthritis because it has forced her to learn new ways to listen to her body and to pay attention to the messages from her heart. She is frequently asked to present commentaries on Georgia Public Radio and other radio and television programs. She is the author of six books and one inspirational CD and is the editor of the bestselling book, Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America and co-author of Passionate for Justice: Ida B Wells as Prophet for Our Times. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University and PhD from Emory University.

Photo credit Mary Arose


Irish poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work centers around themes of language, power, conflict, and religion. From 2014-2019 he was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community. He is the author of four books of poetry and prose: Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community, In the Shelter, Sorry for Your Troubles, and Readings from the Books of Exile.


Pádraig believes language is the original sacrament. Working fluently on the page and in public, he is a compelling poet, teacher, process facilitator, and a profoundly engaging public speaker. He works with groups to explore story, conflict, their relationship with religion and argument, violence, and reconciliation. Using poetry, group discussion and lectures, his work is marked both by lyricism and pragmatism, and includes a practice of evoking stories and participation from attendees.

He presents the podcast Poetry Unbound with On Being Studios, where he also has responsibilities in bringing art and theology into public and civic life. Poetry Unbound dives deep and immerses the listener into one poem every week. In 2011, with his partner Paul Doran, Pádraig co-founded the storytelling event Tenx9 where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their lives.


His book In the Shelter weaves everyday stories with narrative theology, gospel reflections, mindfulness, and Celtic spirituality with poetry, ultimately revealing the transformational power of welcome. Sorry for Your Troubles, arose out of a decade of listening to stories of people who have lived through personal and political conflict in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, and other places of conflict. One poem, ‘Shaking Hands’ was written when Padraig witnessed the historic handshake between Queen Elizabeth II and former IRA commander, Martin McGuinness.


Pádraig is a regular guest on radio speaking on topics such as poetry, religion in the public square, loneliness, conflict and faith, LGBT inclusion, the dangers of so-called Reparative Therapy, and the value of the arts in public life. He is based in Ireland.

Photo credit Trevor Brady

Past presenters:

Ed Bacon, Jennifer Bailey, Judy Brown, Barbara Brown Taylor, Diana Butler Bass, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, Serene Jones, Heidi Kim, Jacqui Lewis, Larry Maze, Catherine Meeks, Brian McLaren, John Philip Newell, Becca Stevens, Valerie Tutson, Lauren Winner, and Jerry Wright

John Philip Newell at AwakeningSoul 2014
Walter Bruegemann at AwakeningSoul 2015
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