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Annual Fall One-Day Workshop

Each year, Chicago-area contemplatives gather on one fall Saturday to share friendship, insight, and the search for spiritual depth and meaning. All are welcome. We sincerely invite you to be part of our sixth annual One-Day Fall Workshop!

Saturday November 4: a special day of awareness and exploration…

Contemplative Outreach Chicago’s sixth annual One-Day Fall Workshop will take place Saturday November 4, 2017 at Goodwin Hall, Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois.

This year, you may choose to participate in an all-day, in-depth introductory workshop on Centering Prayer, or you may choose instead to attend half-day sessions on two of the four other topics on our agenda: sacred chant, the perennial wisdom, Taize spirituality, and a look at Thomas Merton’s quest to revive Catholic contemplation.

Information about the sessions and the session-leaders follows, below.  Hope to see you there!

Go to Registration Form

Agenda: Workshop Sessions

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Registration begins 8:30am / Workshop begins: 9:00am

Lunch provided at mid-day / Workshop ends: 4:00pm

NOTE: The workshop location is Goodwin Hall at Benedictine University, Lisle.  This link takes you to a page featuring a campus map that also allows you to get directions from your location to the university.


ALL DAY: Morning Workshop 1A & Afternoon Workshop 1B


This is an all-day program, so please enter 1A & 1B on the registration form.

In the early 1970s, Trappist monk and priest Thomas Keating and two other Trappists, Fr. William Meninger and the late Fr. Basil Pennington, worked to bring people living outside monasteries a form of silent prayer now known as Centering Prayer. With roots in the fourteenth century book, The Cloud of Unknowing, this kind of prayer allows people to sit silently and become receptive to God’s gift of contemplation.  Of course, contemplation has been an important part of Christianity from the beginning; Centering Prayer presents the teachings of earlier times in an updated form.  This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.  This all-day workshop offers an opportunity to learn the method of Centering Prayer or, for those already practicing, an opportunity to deepen the practice.  Presenters:  Heath Missner and Phil Jackson

Morning Workshop 2A


From the moment of his conversion, Thomas Merton spent his life in relentless pursuit of his Beloved, the God deeper in us than we are ourselves.   He found the presence of his Beloved in the lean of a rake against the wall, or the sighing of the wind in the trees, but centrally in the celebration and adoration of the Eucharist.  He tracked the presence of the transcendent through the paths of other traditions, most famously Buddhism.  Where would he have taken his relationship with God if he had fulfilled his wish and become a hermit in Alaska?  Where is the intent and pursuit of his life’s passion pointing each of us? Presenter: Tony Sorgi

(Note: If you registered for David Belcastro’s presentation “Merton on Yoga,” David had to withdraw due to illness. You have automatically been signed up for the replacement presentation described above.  If you would prefer to attend “Sacred Breath, Sacred Chant,” instead, please send an email to and we will be happy to make the change for you.)

Morning Workshop 3A


Explore contemplative chanting through guided group practice as a means of: expanding attention and presence; deepening embodied spiritual awareness; and freeing body, mind, and emotions from habitual ‘blocked’ energies and conditioned attitudes.  Whether you’re a confident singer or a hesitant one, a person who’s always enjoyed singing in choir, or one who hopes no-one will hear you, yet longs to join the music, this workshop will bring you closer to your true voice.  Anyone seeking a deeper, more embodied spirituality, will have the opportunity to discover, in a supportive group setting, how sacred chanting can enliven your practice of prayer and meditation, and enrich its outward expression in service to the world.

Our practice together will draw from the chants of the ancient tradition of psalm antiphons, and a growing body of newly-composed Christian interspiritual chant being used in Wisdom Schools worldwide.  Prior experience or training in singing may enrich the group experience, but is absolutely not necessary for participation, and may even get in the way.  Presenter:  Darlene Franz

Afternoon Workshop 2B


In this interactive session, Rabbi Rami Shapiro will offer an opportunity to explore the “Perennial Wisdom” that serves as the foundation of all true religion.  He will also introduce us to the practice of “Passage Meditation,” using the World Wisdom Bible as our text.

Rabbi Rami feels that humanity stands at a crossroads between horror and hope.  For the first time in history the spiritual wisdom of all humanity is available to all humanity. For some, this is frightening, and fuels an ever more violent “circling of the wagons” in defense of the parochial. For others this is exhilarating, calling us to reclaim and proclaim the Perennial Wisdom found in every religion.

Since 1984, Rabbi Rami has been a friend and student of Father Thomas Keating, first through his Snowmass Group of gathered contemplatives, and then more intimately teaching with him and learning from him one-on-one. Rami produced a short video with Father Thomas and Reb Zalman Shachter–Shalomi entitled Kiss of God.  The video and more information about Perennial Wisdom can be found 0n Rami’s website (The video can be accessed via a link on the “Holy Rascals” page.)  Presenter:  Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Afternoon Workshop 3B


This session will focus on contemplative practices inspired by the thought and experience of Brother Roger, the Founder of the Taize community.  We will explore some of Brother Roger’s writings on how we can encounter the God of love; we’ll pray with Taize songs, Scripture, and silence (no music expertise is needed); and we’ll discuss together some of the experiences that become possible through Taize modes of contemplative prayer and community encounter.

Taize is an ecumenical monastic community located in Burgundy, France.  It currently includes about 100 brothers—including Catholics and members of various Protestant denominations coming from about 30 countries. Taize wants to be a sign of reconciliation among Christians and among all kinds of separated people.  Since its founding shortly after World War II, the Taize community has developed a style of contemplative prayer characterized by the sung repetition of short and simple phrases, in many different languages, excerpted from the Bible and varied classics of Christian spirituality. Every year, thousands of young people visit Taize, attracted by this simple and beautiful worship and by the joy of making new friends and discovering that Christ can destroy every separating wall.  Taize hymns and music have been adopted and are loved today in Christian churches all over the world.

At the heart of the Taize community’s contemplative practice is Brother Roger’s vision, and his focus on our modern experience of God’s presence and absence. For Roger, Jesus is consistently the risen Jesus, who loved us first. If we don’t always seem to know or hear Him, if what is essential about him sometimes seems hidden, it is because the humble and poor Jesus never imposes himself. He is always calmly “just there,” respectfully, whether we know or feel anything or not. On one level, Jesus is the Gospel Lord who takes on our burdens, takes charge of everything, and transfigures us. Christ loves me and gives his life for me. On another level, though, He is “alien” to us: he is “clandestine,” a stowaway in our hearts. He is the one we do not know. His presence is mysterious and incomprehensible, but it also burns—imagery of light and love, but also of searing pain. This God invites us again and again through song and silence: will you dare to move forward in trust? Presenter:  Karen Scott

Presenter Information


Heath Missner is a Spiritual Director, as well as a Commissioned Presenter of Centering Prayer. Heath recently retired from serving as Deacon at Christ Episcopal Church in Winnetka. She is an Oblate of the Order of Julian of Norwich, which has the intention to bring contemplative practice to The Episcopal Church. Heath also is a member of the Ceile De, a Celtic Christian contemplative tradition based in Scotland. She is the mother of five, and she loves yoga and being outdoors in the beauty and rhythms of the natural world.

Phil Jackson is a Commissioned Presenter of Centering Prayer and former Coordinator for Contemplative Outreach of Chicago.  He has attended Thomas Keating’s two Advanced Studies, 16 and 10 days in an invitation-only monastic setting, spending other weeks in Snowmass. He is also a member of Richard Rohr’s Men as Learners and Elders (MALEs), a Spiritual Director and graduate of Catholic Theological Union. Recently returned from India, Phil is a father of four and a new grandfather. His hobbies include backpacking and he has spent weeks in the wilderness.


Tony Sorgi has been a lifelong student of contemplative practice, under the teachings of Jesuit and Benedictine mentors and spiritual directors, as well as a student of 17 years under a Tibetan Buddhist master.  He recently completed a doctorate in clinical psychology, with a practice emphasis on mindfulness training in the treatment of trauma, and a research emphasis on the potential for contemplative practice to support wellbeing through advances in brief, online mindfulness training.



Rabbi Rami Shapiro, PhD, is a Jewish practitioner of Perennial Wisdom and an award–winning author of more than thirty books on religion and spirituality. He received rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, and holds a PhD in religion from Union Graduate School.  A chaplain with the USAF for three years, a congregational rabbi for 20, and a professor of religious studies for 10, Rabbi Rami currently helps direct the One River Foundation (, writes the Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler column for Spirituality and Health magazine, and hosts the magazine’s weekly radio show, Essential Conversations with Rabbi Rami. His newest book is The World Wisdom Bible (Turner Publishing, 2017).


Darlene Franz, D.M.A., is a freelance oboist, singer, music educator, and chant composer residing in Seattle Washington. Her chants are used in Wisdom Schools throughout the United States and beyond. She facilitates sacred chanting and chant workshops in the Pacific Northwest.  One of Cynthia Bourgeault’s colleagues in the Sacred Chanting work of Wisdom Schools, Darlene is “a master at spiritual inquiry and healing.”  Recordings of a sampling of her work may be found at



Karen Scott, PhD, is Associate Professor of History and Catholic Studies at DePaul University, where she teaches courses in Church history, Medieval and Renaissance history, Medieval mysticism, and Catholic art, liturgy, and spirituality. She is the author of numerous articles on St. Catherine of Siena and is currently working on a book about St. Catherine as a lay preacher in 14th century Italy. She gives talks and retreats on St. Catherine, medieval mysticism, and women’s spirituality.  She has visited Taize often and has also published an essay in the collection entitled Brother Roger’s contribution to theological thought (2016).



Advance registration is now closed; however, you may still register at the door on Saturday November 4 for $65, or $10 for students with ID. 

SPECIAL – Students: $10
When you register, enter the code STUDENT and you will see the $10 price after clicking the PayPal button.  Please bring your student ID on November 4.

Scholarships are available. (Please email scholarship requests to<

Prices include lunch (please note dietary restrictions in the comments section, below).  No tickets or credentials will be sent – just give your name when you arrive.  Questions?  Call 847-698-5298.

Scroll down for secure online registration, or download this mail-in registration form.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Introduction to Centering Prayer is an ALL DAY workshop.  Please do not sign up for any other sessions if you are registering for the Introduction to Centering Prayer.

The workshop location is Goodwin Hall at Benedictine University, Lisle.  This link takes you to a page featuring a campus map that also allows you to get directions from your location to the university.


Bookings are closed for this event.

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