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Thursday, 31 October 2019 04:36

2019 All Maryknoll Contemplative Retreat

Written by Bertha Haas
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Bertha Haas – Portland Chapter

My week in an all-Maryknoll contemplative retreat, held at the Lake House of Prayer in Mwanza, Tanzania, was special and very beneficial. The view of Lake Victoria was conducive to silent prayer and refreshment. Members of each of the four Maryknoll entities participated, coming from the US, Japan, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Attendees, l to r: Fr. Jim Eble MM, Bertha Haas - Portland Affiliate and returned MKLM, Fr. Tim Kilkelly MM, Sr Janet Srebelas MM, Fr. Russ Feldmeyer MM, Fr. Alfonso Kim MM, Judy Walter MKLM, Dee Dungy MKLM, Adventina Kushanbala - Affiliate, Sr. Kathleen Reiley MM
In addition to the great experience of meditating with other Maryknollers, I have been personally led forward in my spiritual journey. Fr. Alfonso Kim and Sr. Kathleen Reiley, our two Zen-trained guides, offered suggestions that will enrich my own practice of Centering Prayer. As always, the Holy Spirit was very active. Prior to the retreat, I knew only Jim, Judy, and Adventina; I had met Alfonso at a church talk. I was thrilled to have Tanzanian neighbors join us for a contemplative “sit” and Mass on our final day.

I am grateful for the simplicity of Centering Prayer and the ease with which one can access this method. I’m sure that the retreat fueled my time at Huruma, making it exceptionally fruitful as well as helping me to peacefully resolve a personal conflict at my house of residence. One of Fr. Keating’s teachings is that contemplative prayer is a gift for the community rather than the individual and that its fruits will be noticed in our life of service. To me, this teaching was clearly evident in my month in Tanzania as it had been in my nine years as a lay missioner. [As a lay missioner, Bertha started Huruma School for children with disabilities in Mwanza, Tanzania, which she continues to support. See tasteoftanzania.x10host.com.]

To quote from Fr. Russ Feldmeier’s report,

Our stated vision was to help foster a more contemplative way of being Maryknoll Missioners that would empower us to be Contemplatives in Action in our broken world at this time in history. We are well aware that Maryknoll has been committed to engaging in both contemplation and action from the beginning. It is important to renew this commitment in the light of the present challenges of living and working in a globalized world of climate change, inequality in all its forms, ethnic conflict, racism, reactionary nationalism, religious fundamentalism, terrorism and poverty, which create an environment that demands an ever deeper contemplative approach.

On the final evening, we gathered to brainstorm our options for fostering this “more contemplative way of being Maryknoll Missioners.” As a certified presenter for Contemplative Outreach, I am available to present “An Introduction to Centering Prayer” to Affiliate groups, to the extent that my time allows. If your chapter or region is interested, please contact Bob Short (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


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