Popularity of contemplative prayer is growing in the Southern Tier, as evidenced by the many opportunities available, including two upcoming special events.
A day of prayer on the beatitudes will take place Saturday, Dec. 6, in the contemplative setting of Mount Saviour Monastery in Pine City. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with prayer in the crypt, followed by Mass at 9 a.m. in the chapel. The program will run until 3 p.m.
In addition, a centering-prayer retreat, “Transforming Beatitudes,” will take place Feb. 12-15, 2009, at Mount Saviour. This retreat will offer talks on the conceptual background of contemplative prayer and serve to deepen a commitment to regular practice of it. The retreat includes three periods of centering prayer three times a day; a contemplative walk; private interviews; and conferences on contemplative practices.
Both gatherings will be facilitated by Sister Therese Dush, CA, who serves as director of the Bethany Retreat Center in Frenchville, Pa. She will be joined at the Dec. 6 event by fellow Anawim Sister Karen Willenbring, CA, a medical doctor from Frenchville who serves the spiritual and medical needs of that area’s poor. Father Philip Billotte, a Rochester diocesan priest who retired earlier this year, is highly active in the Frenchville ministry as well.
Register for either event at Mount Saviour by contacting Deacon George Welch at 607-733-6541, ext. 425, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deacon Welch, chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira, also serves as a leader for a recently formed chapter of prayer groups. Southern Tier New York Contemplative Outreach consists of seven divisions in the Southern Tier area. These groups meet regularly. Calendar and contact information is as follows:
* St. Joseph’s Hospital; Wednesdays, 6 p.m.; Deacon Welch
* Mount Saviour Monastery; Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.; Father Martin Boler, OSB, retired prior (607-734-1688)
* Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Painted Post; Mondays, 5:30 p.m.; Barbara Price (contact Dottie Sempolinski at desempolinski.stny.rr.com)
* St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center, Ithaca; every fourth Thursday, 7-8:30 p.m.; Joan Ludewig (email@example.com)
* St. Mary of the Lake Church, Watkins Glen; Tuesdays, 7 p.m.; Tom Ruda or Sarah Conley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
* Grace Episcopal Church, Elmira; Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., and Fridays, 11 a.m.; Elli Haber (email@example.com)
* Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Vestal (Diocese of Syracuse); Saturdays, 7:30 a.m.; Sue Foley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to Deacon Welch, these seven groups conduct prayer through the example of Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk who has been a leader in reviving the ancient tradition of contemplative prayer. People who pray in this manner open their whole beings to God so deeply, they make a connection by which they’re no longer engaged in their own thoughts.