Robert Béla Wilhelm My Story

I was born of immigrant parents, and heard my first stories from my Slovak mother, and also my father's mother from Hungary. And though I tell tales from around the world, I am a traditional teller both in my style of telling, and in my choice of traditional folktales, myths, and legends for my repertory. I am not an actor, nor a writer, but a traditional Storyteller shaped by my Central European cultural heritage and my Catholic religious tradition.

And, I am deeply grateful to my two mentors: Wayne Rood of the Pacific School of Religion, and Jorge Rosner of the Gestalt Institute of Toronto.  It is a wonder and mystery to me, a Catholic, how a Seventh Day Baptist and a Secular Jew became my primary teachers. God works in mysterious ways.

I have been telling stories professionally for many years, and have been honored as a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival. Over the years, I have narrated stories in many settings -- to as many as 5000 people in American convention halls. I have also spun tales with a few snow-bound Canadian Ojibway over a shared hunter's stew. I have woven stories for the storytelling Irish in their own land -- by the sight and sweet smell of an Irish cottage turf fire. And, most importantly, I have shared favorite stories with my nieces and nephews here at home.

I received my doctorate (Th.D.) in the performing arts from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. My M.A. was in religious education from the Catholic University of America. My dissertation was on the craft & philosophy of storytelling. I held appointments at various colleges & universities, including the College of St. Catherine, Niagara University, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. I was the founder and director of the School of Sacred Storytelling from 1994 to 2011.

While deeply influenced by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, I recognize the important contribution of Gestalt psychology and therapy to my work in storytelling.

I am a religious artist, folklorist, and travel guide. My spirituality, rooted in his Catholic heritage, is broadly ecumenical, anchored in the classical humanism of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and atuned to other sacred storytelling traditions.

© Robert Bela Wilhelm 2013