Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler is a founding member and the current president of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. Led by her desire to make transformation through Centering Prayer available to others like herself, Gail has served Contemplative Outreach in many ways throughout the years. Since 1984, Gail has served on the Board of Trustees. In 1985, she balanced her position as an art therapist/special educator in a private school setting with her new role as part time executive director of Contemplative Outreach. In 1987, she resigned from her teaching position to serve full time as executive director, a position she held until she was appointed president in October of 1999. She is an international speaker and retreat director, and has overseen and participated in the production of many Contemplative Outreach programs, including the Contemplative Life Program, for which she currently is serving as both a contributor and an editor. Gail also serves as a faculty advisor for the formation of the essential teachings for the Introduction to Centering Prayer Workshop. Currently, she along with Fr. Carl Arico and others, comprise the Gift Committee, which is dedicated to ensuring the legacy of Fr. Thomas Keating.
Gail's journey to contemplative Christianity is rooted in the ritual and mystery she experienced in the Catholic Church as a child in the '50s and early '60s, and is informed by her study of Tibetan Buddhism in the '70s and early '80s. She found the convergence of her Christian background and her Buddhist contemplative experience in the contemplative Christian heritage and the practice of Centering Prayer. Gail attended the first intensive Centering Prayer retreat that Fr. Thomas Keating offered at the Lama Foundation in San Cristobal, New Mexico in 1983. As a result, she became a devoted Centering Prayer practitioner and a founding member of Contemplative Outreach. As a laywoman, Gail represents the essence of the community that Contemplative Outreach serves: Christians wishing for a deeper relationship with God through transformation lived out in ordinary life, outside the monastic cloister. Gail is a mother, grandmother and had a private psychotherapy practice from 1982-1992, all at a time when she was engaging more deeply in the practice of Centering Prayer and laying the foundations for what would become the worldwide community of Contemplative Outreach. She understands the difficulties of balancing the activities of an ordinary life with the attraction to silence, solitude and service.
Commenting on her journey to a contemplative life and her involvement in Contemplative Outreach, Gail observes, "Looking back, I can see that all my life experiences was God's way of leading me; I realize that I was called and sent to serve God. Through my dedication to the practice of Centering Prayer, God activated a deeper consent in me. I learned to wait, stay awake, and listen deeply for how God was calling me to take the next step."
Gail is the author of an article entitled "The Spiritual Network of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.," which she wrote for the Sewanee Theological Review (Pentecost 2000) and was also published in the book The Divine Indwelling. She has also been published in the Annual Merton Journal (Winter 2004).