Renowned US leader for Contemplative Outreach SA Conference
A leading expert on Centering Prayer will guide Contemplative Outreach South Africa’s national conference in April. Rev Dr Cynthia Bourgeault of the Contemplative Society in the US will lead the conference, which will be held from April 27 to May 1 at the Padre Pio Retreat Centre in Centurion.
The conference will revolve around the theme of “An Invitation to the Heart of Centering Prayer”.
Centering Prayer – which is part of contemplative prayer – is a method of silent, meditative prayer that its advocates say prepares Christians to receive and experience the gift of God’s presence.
Members of Contemplative Outreach and others from across the country will be attending the conference, which is fully booked.
Wendy Maree, contact person for Contemplative Outreach’s Pretoria region, said the aim is to bring people together through Centering Prayer.
“Our hope is that each one will encounter God in such a way that their relationship with him is significantly deepened,” she said.
Rev Bourgeault, an Episcopalian minister, writer and internationally renowned retreat leader, is the founding director of the Contemplative Society, and serves as the organisation’s principal teacher and advisor.
She has worked closely with fellow Centering Prayer pioneers such as Abbot Thomas Keating, Fr Richard Rohr OFM and Fr Bruno Barnhart in teaching and introducing Centering Prayer to a vast worldwide audience.
“We are truly grateful to have someone of Dr Bourgeault’s spiritual stature and maturity coming to impart her wisdom with us,” Ms Maree said.
As an active contemplative, Rev Bourgeault travels extensively to educate others about the Christian contemplative tradition. This will be her first time coming to South Africa, which “had been on her radar for some time”, Ms Maree explained.
Rev Bourgeault will be conducting talking sessions to explore the function and spiritual impact of Centering Prayer, using Christian mystic text The Cloud of Unknowing and her latest publication, The Heart of Centering Prayer, as examples.
Following the conference, Rev Bourgeault will lead a contemplative Wisdom School at Goedgedacht Farm in Malmesbury, Western Cape.
She will be working with meditation, contemplative prayer, lectio divina (divine reading), the language of sacred gesture, and the daily practices of mindfulness, inner observation, and surrender in a traditional Benedictine context.