Development of Centering Prayer
During Fr. Keating’s term as abbot at St. Joseph’s and in response to the reforms of Vatican II, he invited teachers from the East to the monastery. As a result of this exposure to Eastern spiritual traditions, Fr. Keating and several of the monks at St. Joseph’s were led to develop the modern form of Christian contemplative prayer called Centering Prayer. Fr. Keating was a central figure in the initiation of the Centering Prayer movement. He offered Centering Prayer workshops and retreats to clergy and laypeople, and authored articles and books on the method and fruits of Centering Prayer. In 1983, he presented a two-week Intensive Centering Prayer retreat.
This proved to be a watershed event. Many of the people prominent in the Centering Prayer movement today attended this retreat. Contemplative Outreach was created in 1984 to support the growing spiritual network of Centering Prayer practitioners.
Fr. Keating became the community’s president in 1985, a position he held until 1999.
Fr. Keating is an internationally renowned theologian and an accomplished author.
He has travelled the world to speak with laypeople and communities about contemplative Christian practices and the psychology of the spiritual journey, which is the subject of his Spiritual Journey video and DVD series.
Since the reforms of Vatican II, Fr. Keating has been a core participant in and supporter of interreligious dialogue. He helped found the Snowmass Interreligious Conference, which had its first meeting in the fall of 1983 and continues to meet each spring.
It was at Snowmass that Thomas Keating established a programme of Ten Day Retreats and Post-Intensive Retreats in the practice of Centering Prayer.
Retreats are now held worldwide by those who have been trained by Contemplative Outreach.