The Contemplative Network was formed following a visit to New Zealand by Cynthia Bourgeault – Episcopalian priest, hermit, author and retreat leader – to give a series of talks and lead retreats having at their core the practice of Centering Prayer. Following Cynthia’s initial visit in March 2009 she returned to New Zealand in October 2010 to provide training for those interested in developing their practice of Centering Prayer and also providing teacher training for contemplative practice. Cynthia continued to offer retreats and wisdom schools in NZ until 2018.
Other teachers that the Contemplative Network have invited to NZ include Christopher and Heather Page (2010) from the Contemplative Society in Canada, and Darlene Franz (2012) from Seattle, Washington who is a teacher of contemplative chant. In the spring of 2020, James Finley, a core faculty member of the Centre for Action and Contemplation, offered teaching via zoom.
Over this time, members of the Contemplative Network have developed a range of retreat and wisdom school offerings which are regularly offered in in various retreat centres around NZ and via zoom.
While firmly grounded in the Christian tradition the network is supportive of all contemplative practices wherever they are found. Individuals using a number of different approaches to contemplative prayer regularly participate in retreats organised by the Network. Currently the coordinators of the Contemplative Network are Agnes Hermans (Whangarei), Pat Neuwelt (Auckland/Ontario, Canada), Mary Ebyarimpa (Auckland), and Lucy Hastings (Palmerston North).
Coordinating the work of the Contemplative Network has been shared by a team from diverse parts of NZ and membership of the coordinating team has changed over time. The founding members of the Contemplative Network were Pip Nicholls (Wellington), Bev and Tony Silvester-Clark (Helensville), Kevin Gallagher (Christchurch) and Agnes Hermans. Kaia Ariel (Dunedin) joined the team later.
We are grateful for the financial (or “in kind”) support from the Coromandel Christian Trust, individuals, and retreat centres.