Select a link to read presenter’s bio

Fionnula Quinn — October 21, 2023 / Deepening Our Centering Prayer Practice
Nancy Stimac and Curt Paddock — November 18, 2023 / Lectio Divina
Cherry Haisten — January 20, 2024 / Soul Friending
Richard Bonacci — February 17, 2024 / The Human Condition
Jenny Adamson — March 16, 2024 / Divine Therapy
Denis Gleeson — April 20, 2024 / Dark Night of the Soul: Night of Sense
Mary Dwyer — May 18, 2024 / The Welcoming Prayer

Fionnuala Quinn

Fionnuala is a Dominican Sister of Cabra, Dublin. Ireland. While living in New Orleans, Louisiana with her community, she met Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O. and Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. And so began her journey into Centering Prayer in 1988. In 1995 Fionnuala trained as a Presenter of Centering Prayer with Gail Fitzpatrick Hopler and Susan Komis. In 1996 Fionnuala opened Contemplative Outreach of New Orleans. In 2006 she opened Contemplative Outreach of Dublin. From 2014 – 2018 Fionnuala served as International Coordinator for Contemplative Outreach. During this time she traveled to England, Poland, and Trinidad training new presenters.

Since lockdown in March 2020, Fionnuala has continued using Zoom to hold Centering Prayer meetings, to train presenters and to offer retreats. In 2021 Fionnuala became a commissioned presenter of Lectio Divina.

Nancy Stimac and Curt Paddock

Nancy Stimac, a longtime contemplative prayer practitioner, serves on the Contemplative Outreach Organization’s Lectio Divina Service Team and is a commissioned presenter of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. While winding down careers in education and advertising, she received Hartford Archdiocesan certification in the New England Catholic Bible School and Lay Ministry programs. She uses her gifts to serve the Catholic community of Windsor Locks. She and her optometrist husband, George, reside in Windsor, CT with seven animal companions. They have one son.

Curt Paddock resides in Plainfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Following a career in higher education and governmental service, Curt received training and certification as a Spiritual Director and Coach. After practicing Centering Prayer for many years, he became a member of the Leadership Team for the Chicago Chapter of Contemplative Outreach (CO). Curt has been commissioned by CO as a Presenter of Introductory courses in both Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. He is a member of the CO Lectio Divina Service Team that has recently completed a thorough update of all curriculum materials for the organization’s Introduction to Lectio Divina program.

Curt is an active parishioner at St. Edward and Christ Episcopal Church in Joliet, Illinois. He serves the parish as a Verger, Eucharistic Minister and Coordinator of Adult Formation. He has been responsible for obtaining multiple grants from diverse sources to extend the range and scope of the parish’s outreach programs. Curt is also extensively involved with local and regional interfaith programs, activities and relations. Finally, Curt is a contributing author for the award-winning book, Everyday With Saint Joseph, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.

Cherry Haisten

Cherry is a longtime presenter of workshops on Centering Prayer and Welcoming Prayer, which she has regularly practiced for three decades. She has led workshops and retreats in many places around the U.S. and in British Columbia. With her colleagues on the Welcoming Prayer Service Team, she worked to revise the 2016 Welcoming Prayer Contemplative Life Program booklet and to write materials for the Spirituality and Practice online Welcoming Prayer courses. A leader in Contemplative Outreach Northwest since 1996, she remains involved with the local chapter though now from a backseat. A former writing instructor with a B.A. from Emory University and an M.A. from the University of Georgia, both in English, she received a Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality in 2005 from Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry, where she was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society. For fifteen years, she was program director of The Center at St. Andrew’s, a healing and lifelong learning ministry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Seattle, where she also served as a Eucharistic minister, healing minister, licensed lay preacher, and for two years, as lay pastor, had the privilege of coordinating and presiding at the Sunday evening Taizé service. Her retirement from these duties coincided with the beginning of the Covid pandemic and launched her into the unknown of a big lifetime transition and more adventures traveling on life’s journey, both geographically and spiritually.

Richard J. Bonacci

Richard’s interest in contemplative prayer has roots in both his academic career as well as his training in spiritual direction, having earned his certificate from the Center for Christian Spirituality at the University of San Diego in 2009. It was during that training that he began his Centering Prayer practice. Subsequently, Richard has completed the two-year “Living Flame course.” He has expanded his understanding of contemplative traditions other than Christianity through the study of Buddhism and Jewish mysticism and spirituality.

In addition to his involvement in the San Diego chapter of Contemplative Outreach, Richard is active at both the local and regional level of Illuman (previously MALEs), the men’s spiritual movement founded by Franciscan Richard Rohr.

Richard holds a BA and MA from Georgetown University, where he grounded himself in church history and Ignatian Spirituality. His advanced studies at the University of Toronto and in Europe expanded his interest and knowledge of Desert, Carmelite and Eastern Orthodox spirituality.

Richard presented a half-day workshop on the spirituality of the desert at the 2016 Spiritual Directors International (SDI) conference held in San Diego. He has also presented workshops, forums, and Lenten retreats on the Desert Mothers and Fathers to local churches and the San Diego Spiritual Directors Association.

Jenny Adamson

Jenny Adamson has practiced Centering Prayer since 2000 and served as a prayer group facilitator and a chapter coordinator in Iowa. She served on the Presenter Formation Service team for 4 years, and on the Governing Board for 6 years. She has served retreats in the Midwest, at Snowmass, in Ireland and in Iceland. She has been part of the 12-Step Outreach Service team since it started in 2005. She is currently a member of the Planning team for the 2024 40th Anniversary Conference and an ad hoc member of the Introduction to Centering Prayer team. She and her husband John live in Carbondale, Colorado near Snowmass.

Denis Gleeson

I have been involved in Contemplative Outreach now for over 20 years having a trained as a presenter in St. Aidan’s Monastery, County Wexford, Ireland in 2010. During the time I have been a very active member of the Contemplative Outreach Chapter Dublin and have served continuously on the Advisory Council. I have also prepared many resources based on the writings of Fr. Thomas Keating and have given a great number of introductions to Centering Prayer as well as a wide variety of retreats and workshops. Sr. Fionnuala Quinn and myself have released a double CD introducing Centering Prayer and the Welcoming Prayer. We have also collaborated in the training of new presenters and in the production of PowerPoint resources that can accompany the work of Fr.Thomas. As a member of Spiritual Directors Europe (SDE), I have presented on Centering Prayer at the annual conference which was held in Romania and more recently I have given a masterclass on Zoom on Centering Prayer and spiritual direction. Finally, for at least the last two years, I have presented during the United Day of Prayer held by Contemplative Outreach.

Mary Dwyer

Mary Dwyer is a long-time student of Fr. Thomas Keating and has been practicing Centering Prayer since the 1980s. In the early 1990’s, she lived at Chrysalis House, a contemplative live-in community experiment blessed by Fr. Thomas. Her housemates included Mary Mrozowski, David Frenette and Cathy McCarthy. The community lived according to a rule of life, and became an incubator of practice and programs in the early years of Contemplative Outreach’s growth. It was her experience at Chyrsalis House – what she refers to as her “inpatient” or “residential treatment time” – that proved to her that a life of prayer, consent and practice is real, stable and deeply rewarding. Mary Mrozowski taught her that a devoted life of prayer was the real work of life; what we did the rest of the time was just how we made a living.

Mary received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in economics and spent some time as a banker and college administrator. After a few years at Chrysalis House, she went back to school and became a licensed clinical social worker and practiced this vocation for the next 15 years, all while maintaining her commitment to the contemplative life and to the mission of Contemplative Outreach. In 2008 she met her beloved Juan through the Living Flame program. She moved to Miami, FL in 2009 and they married. Juan recently retired and they moved back to Erie, PA in July, 2018.

Mary is currently in private practice as an LCSW in the Erie area. She also is serving as a member of the Gift Committee and the Welcoming Prayer Service Team of Contemplative Outreach. She previously has served as Chairperson of the Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. Governing Board; member of the Contemplative Outreach Faculty; and Coordinator for the Living Flame program and Coordinator of the Miami Chapter. Mary now devotes her time between private practice and giving retreats and workshops on behalf of Contemplative Outreach throughout the US and internationally.

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