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Diane Schmitz introduces Celtic spirituality, educates on racism

Diane Schmitz, a UCC minister, consultant and educator, offers workshops and retreats on Celtic spirituality to help people connect to their physical surroundings, to people they encounter and to their daily lives.

Diane Schmtz
Diane Schmitz

She believes Celtic spirituality has been reviving over the last 20 years to counter the culture that separates the physical and spiritual, and that excludes and marginalizes some people.

Ordained in 2006 to do an outreach ministry of the divine feminine with University Baptist Church and University Congregational UCC, she does spiritual direction with individuals and organizational consulting with higher education, corporations, congregations and nonprofits.

She believes a holistic approach of reflection and action can help people become change agents for social justice in their communities and the world.

For Diane, Celtic spirituality affirms creation theology, women’s spirituality and racial equity.

In October 2009, she visited Wales and Ireland, the roots of Celtic spirituality.  There she solidified what she had read in books by being on the land and learning about Celtic history and spirituality.

Diane spoke of the rhythm in Celtic spirituality and healing that “comes by recognizing the body is sacred,” she said.

“In every encounter there is a third person, something magical.  Trusting in the sacred spirit means there can be healing even if the friendship goes awry.

Because senses are important in this spirituality, she arranged a workshop room with photos of Irish country, candles and natural objects for people to feel and smell.

“In our bodies, we feel the changing seasons, cycles of life, and rhythms of the earth,” said Diane, “but we have grown up in a culture that degrades the physical. 

“The holy, however, is imbued in everything—biting an apple, jumping in leaves, everything we touch and smell.  All nature is alive, holy and animate.

“A few minutes of experiencing such things can bring joy every day.  Celtic spirituality calls us to be attentive to each gift, especially to the concept of a soul friend—Anam Cara,” Diane said.  “Celtic spirituality is about how people encounter each other in a circle of belonging, recognizing that love of others depends on love of self. 

“We are so busy, it’s hard to attend to ourselves or our friends.  We need to use the blessings in our daily lives to spread gratitude for being alive.  In Celtic thought, there is no separation of the visible and invisible, between earth and sky,” she explained.

Diane, who has been director of commuter and transfer student services at Seattle University for 12 years, grew up unchurched until her family moved to Spokane and the pastor of Westview UCC invited them to church.

She became the church organist, but in high school grew disillusioned because not all church people are perfect. 

After marrying, she studied journalism at Eastern Washington University, finishing in 1979.  Moving to Seattle, she felt at home with the diversity of nature and people. 

Until 1983, Diane worked as a manager with Hewlett Packard.  Then she helped family in New Mexico start a computer business.

There Diane had a “spiritual awakening,” exploring Buddhism, Sufi, New Thought and Native American spirituality.  

When she moved back to Seattle in 1988, she sought a church community, in which she could discuss faith.  Her involvement at University Congregational UCC led her to studies at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University in 1993, initially to be a spiritual director. 

Eventually, she decided to complete a master of divinity degree.   After graduating, she served a year as minister-in-transition in Monroe UCC, and then returned to her work at Seattle University.

She started a doctoral degree in educational leadership in 2005 at Seattle University, developing an outreach ministry to help the white community to overcome racism by “moving from privilege to partnership.” 

Her work in higher education and as a self-employed consultant includes creating professional development in multicultural competencies, understanding power and privilege, and becoming inclusive organizations.

Diane connects with Allies for Change, founded by Melanie Morrison—one of the keynote speakers for the 2009 PNC Annual Meeting—to facilitate social change through anti-oppression education and resources to promote working as allies across differences.

For information, call 206-365-4392 or email

Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © September-October 2010





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