Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ

Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ

Email: g.simmonds@heythrop.ac.uk
Telephone: 020 7795 4216


Gemma Simmonds is a sister of the Congregation of Jesus. After a career in teaching she worked as chaplain in the University of Cambridge and at Heythrop, where she also co-ordinated student support services. Since her return from study and work among women and street children in Brazil in 1992 she has been a volunteer on the chaplaincy team in Holloway Prison. She has worked in spiritual direction as a teacher and retreat-giver after training in the Jesuit Centre for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville, USA, and has been involved in religious and priestly formation internationally since 1993. Her work as a conference facilitator and simultaneous translator has also led her into translating theological works in French, Spanish and Portuguese. She re-joined the staff at Heythrop in 2005 and is a Senior Lecturer in Pastoral and Social Studies and Theology. She is Director of the Religious Life Institute, Co-ordinator of the Erasmus Exchange Programme and Vice-President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain.

Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, A Contemporary Re-reading of the Jansenist Crisis in Conversation with Henri de Lubac and the Ressourcement Movement, Thesis Supervisors: Prof. Peter Bayley, Prof. David Ford, 2006
M.Th., Heythrop College, University of London, 1993-5
P.G.C.E. (Postgraduate Certificate in Education), University of London Institute of Education, 1980-1981
M.A., University of Cambridge, Newnham, Modern & Medieval Languages (French and Spanish), 1977-80, (M.A. 1983)

Further Studies

University of London Extra-Mural Diploma in Theology, 1983-1986
Instituto Teológico Franciscano, Petrópolis, RJ, Brazil, 1991-1992

Current teaching




Spirituality and Society
Foundations of Christian Spirituality
Spiritual Direction in the Tradition of Ignatius Loyola
Theology of Religious Life


Recent publications

(2012) French Studies . [Book review]

(2012) Theology . [Book review]

(2012) Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu . [Book review]

(2012) In: Gabriel, Flynn, Paul, Murray, (eds.) Ressourcement: a Movement for Renewal in Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 23-35. [Book section]

(2012) Dublin: Columba Press. [Edited collection]

Additional Professional Experience

Radio and Television appearances:

Woman’s Hour, Radio Five Live, Radio Berkshire, Radio 2, BBC 1, Newsnight, Esther, ITV2, Radio Cambridge, The Sunday Programme, Beyond Belief, Good Morning Sunday, Prayer for the Day, Sunday Worship, Pause for Thought, Prayer for the Day, BBC R4 Lent Talk, April 2012

Consultant Theologian to:

Catholic Bishops of England and Wales Colloquium on Church and Family Life, Home is a Holy Place, London, 2007

Sisters Survivors of Communism project, Catholic University of Ukraine, 2006 and for film of Interrupted Lives: Catholic Sisters under European Communism

Who were the Nuns? A Prosopographical Study of the English Convents in Exile in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Queen Mary, University of London.

Advisory Board

Centre for Catholic Studies, University of Durham, 2012-

Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, 2002-

Jesuit Media Initiatives, 2008-

Teaching on Ministerial Training Programmes: 

Salvation Army

Cambridge Theological Federation

Lincoln  Diocesan Programme

International Jesuit Training Programme

Research Networks: 

Founder member of the Ecclesiological Investigations Research Network, editorial board and committee.   

Papers/Seminars/Presentations and Talks

Conference of Religious of Scotland, ‘Religious Life and Vatican II: 50 Years On’, 2013

National Conference of Major Religious Superiors, Harare, Zimbabwe, ‘Religious Life and Vatican II: 50 Years On’, 2013

‘Where We Dwell in Common: Pathways for Dialogue in the 21st Century’, Ecclesiological Investigations Research Network International Conference, Assisi, 2012     

‘The Rehabilitation of Mary Ward’ (The History of Women Religious in Britain and Ireland Annual Conference, University College Dublin)

International Symposium on Mary Ward, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo, Brazil, Harare, Zimbabwe, 2012

National Catholic Education Convention, Adelaide, Australia, 2011

Symposium on Ignatian Spiritual Direction, Tasmania, Singapore, 2011

University of Malta Lent Lectures, 2011

Ignatian Symposium, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2011

200th Anniversary Conference of Sisters of the Holy Faith, Dublin, 2011

Annual conference: Sisters of St. Louis, Presentation Sisters, Daughters of Wisdom, Sisters of Mercy (Ireland, 2011)

Conference of Religious in Ireland (CoRI) 50th Anniversary conference, Dublin, 2010

Annual conference of Diocesan Vicars for Religious UK, 2010

Annual conference of religious, archdiocese of Birmingham, 2010

Symposium on Mary Ward and Ignatius of Loyola, Sapientia School of Theology, Budapest, 2010

International Conference on Mary Ward, Education and Culture in Speyer, Germany, 2010

 ‘Le projet éducatif de Mary Ward et la Compagnie de Jésus’, in Femmes entre Wallonie et Italie Symposium, Academia Belgica, Rome, 2009

Keynote Address, International Mary Ward Symposium, Augustinianum, Rome, 2009

International Conference, Ecclesiological Investigations Research Network, Dublin 2007

International Colloquium, Ecclesiological Investigations Research Network, UK 2007

‘Finding a Voice: the Rehabilitation of Mary Ward’, Mary Ward Lecture, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge, 2009

‘Mary Ward and Education for Tomorrow’, Loreto Australia Schools Advisory Council, 2007, 2008

 ‘On the Way to Life: Faith and Culture in a Changing World’, Catholic Educational Leadership Conference, Adelaide and Board of Catholic Education of Western Australia, Fremantle, 2008

Mary Ward Symposium, Kenya and Mauritius, 2008, 2009

 Edmund Rice Network, Auckland New Zealand, 2007, St. Lucia, 2006

 Presentation Family Conference, Ireland, 2007

 ‘Mary Ward and the Jesuitesses’, Gregorian University, Rome, 2006

Page Updated: Thursday, June 20 2013