Spiritual Directors International

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John O'Donohue (1956-2008)

John O'Donohue was a poet, priest, philosopher, and scholar from Conamara, Ireland. Born and raised in County Clare, he was awarded a PhD in philosophical theology from the German University of Tubingen in 1990. A prolific writer, he authored Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (an international bestseller), Echoes of Memory (a collection of poetry), and Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong, among other books. As a Catholic scholar whose acclaimed writings revealed an original thinker rooted in an unorthodox blend of Irish heritage, German philosophy, and an intimate relationship with the wild, luminous landscape of his Conamara home, his writings were particularly helpful to spiritual directors and those involved in formation and training programs.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir agus beannacht.

On the death of the Beloved

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

—John O’Donohue

Tributes from the Community


John O'Donohue, in Anam Cara, introduced me to the concept that the body is only a small part of the soul. The soul is much larger and, consequently, overlaps and intersects with the souls of others, the grandeur of creation, and the heart of God.  I'm indebted to this corrective to the individualistic and compartmentalized society we live in and those whose attitudes and practices make it that way. I'm indebted to this insight because it helps me to be more aware of my relationship with God and with all God creates. 

Dave Ferner


I was first introduced to the writing of John O'Donohue but a few weeks ago in the book The Invisible Embrace-Beauty. I was, am, deeply stirred by the depth and breadth of his perceptions, his manner of putting into words many things I have deeply felt but could not explain. In these times his thoughts and manner of seeing are vastly needed. I believe they can serve to transcend the tremendous difficulties of our times: the darkness as seen in The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot by Naomi Wolf; the clearly possible movements of planetary intervention in The Allies of Humanity by Marshall V. Summers; and the world environmental delimmas in The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery. O'Donohues words and thoughts if placed into action as directed by the heart will coalesce with all the forces of Light that are abundant as well on this planet and can move life and humanity toward its spiritual destiny. Thank you and bless you, John O'Donohue, for the gift of your insights, clarity, inspiration, and pathways to beauty, truth, and goodness. I for one will use your gifts from my heart, for this world.

James Rose-Foreman


A friend had just sent me a beautiful poem titled, "A Blessing," written by John O' Donohue. I was truly touched by its spirituality. Only a beautiful soul could write like John O' Donohue did, and as his spirit lives on. May his works surround many with his warmth and beauty.

Michelle Rossi


As many of you, probably, reading John O´Donohue's books, I found him to be my kindest guide. His evocative thoughts, richness of his images, and his gift for sharing the intimate journeys of the soul introduced me into my own inner landscapes I would not so easily find way to by myself. For these gifts he so generously transferred to me, and in spite of not knowing him in person, I established very close relationship with him. I was moved by his death. I am deeply grateful for his writings and believe there is much more in his legacy to be received by next generations in our aching world.

Iva Fišerová, Czech Republic


I did not know John, but he died in my country, I am sharing the hope of those who believe in the loving and merciful God who opens his arms to John. RIP.

Marie-Geneviève Renaud

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