"This remarkable book is a passionate call for the recovery of the Catholic tradition of passionate spiritual search. With her intensely personal and unflinchingly honest writing, the author encourages the seeker on a journey through suffering and joy, darkness and loneliness, towards enlightenment and union. Her special friends and guides on the difficult yet wonderful journey are the Beguine mystics of the fourteenth century, and other eccentric and (as she says) 'weird' friends, ancient and contemporary. This is a book for now: the author refuses to stick with no longer relevant spiritual metaphors or to accept once revered spiritual practices just because they are old. There is a freshness here, and a delightfully frank humor, but most of all a passionate love." -Rosemary Luling Haughton, PhD (honorary), theologian, author of The Passionate God, The Catholic Thing, Gifts in the Ruins

"Not one more book about Francis!? Yes, but this one with breadth and depth and humor and even practicality. You will not be bored or disappointed!" --Friar Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico "Very highly recommended reading for students of St. Francis of Assisi…a superbly organized and presented introduction to Franciscan spirituality as experienced by lay people who are part of the Franciscan 'Third Order'. Providing readers with practical guidelines drawn from the life of St. Francis and from third-order Franciscans, "Following Francis" invites Christian readers to participate in the passion and joy that so characterized the manner and example in which Francis of Assisi followed the teachings and example of Jesus."--The Midwest Book Review, October 2006.

"Identity Tourism: Imaging and Imagining the Nation" examines how museums and other attractions can be used to tell a people's story, and build a sense of national identity.


If you need a speaker for an adult forum, quiet day or retreat on spiritual topics, especially prayer and how the interior life intersects with issues of social justice, please get in touch (see email link to the right). Past topics include (for a complete list, click on the link below):

Who Needs More Rules? Why Have a Rule of Life

Audio-Visio Divina: A New Take on an Old Prayer

Prayer: The Romance of a Lifetime (a quiet day co-led with Edie Burkhalter)

Francis of Assisi and the Two Faces of Passion

On Not Raping the Earth

A Franciscan Take on Contemporary Slavery

Why Do They Hate Us? America in a Resentful World


Susan Pitchford, TSSF is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington, and a professed member of the Third Order, Society of Saint Francis. The Third Order is a religious community for people who wish to follow the Franciscan way "in the world," that is, within the families and occupations where they find themselves.

As a sociologist, Susan's research examines how marginalized groups use museums and other tourist attractions to tell their stories, to set the historical record straight and (re)construct their identities. She is the author of "Identity Tourism: Imaging and Imagining the Nation" (Elsevier, Fall 2007). Her teaching focuses mainly on issues of human suffering, both within the U.S. and globally. She has also led study abroad programs through the University of Washington, taking students to Zimbabwe, South Africa and Northern Ireland. She currently leads a program in Rome, Italy, every other year (next program is spring 2013). This focuses on the historical and ongoing tension within the Church between the seduction of worldly wealth and power, and the Church's original mission of self-sacrificing love and service.

In the area of spirituality, Susan is the author of "Following Francis: The Franciscan Way for Everyone" (Morehouse, June 2006), and "God in the Dark: Suffering and Desire in the Spiritual Life" (Liturgical Press, March 2011). She also leads classes and workshops on contemplative prayer, having a rule of life, and Franciscan spirituality.

Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, Bob Crutchfield. Her golden retriever, Abby, went to her reward on June 13, 2012. She is greatly missed.

Abby 2010

My work

General Spirituality
A look at the two faces of passion (suffering and desire), and their role in the life of faith.
Franciscan Spirituality
Reflections on Franciscan spirituality and the Franciscan Third Order
Identity Tourism
This book examines how museums and other attractions can be used to tell a people's story, and build a sense of national identity.
Work in Progress: Tourism
Examines how museums tell the stories that are hardest to hear.
Selected social science articles
A selection of articles on the creation and projection of group images and identities in tourist attractions, and on methods for the study of new religious movements.