How Contemplative Outreach of South Africa came into being

Our founder was Winnie Young, and in 1995 Fr Carl Arico (on his first of 4 visits) helped her establish an ad-hoc national committee. This was replaced in 1997 by a formal National Steering committee representing Chapters that had been established in Johannesburg, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Subsequently, chapters were established in Pretoria and the Eastern Cape and these were also represented on our NSC. Today the structure is only slightly different, with the Eastern Cape and Johannesburg being regions with contact persons (there are no local steering committees there) and with the addition of a regional group with a contact person in the Free State. Further details about each of our chapters and regional groups is available on our website,

In December 2000, Contemplative Outreach had a kiosk at the Parliament of World Religions held in Cape Town, one of only two Christian groups represented.

We have been privileged over the years to have been visited by Fr Thomas (in 2001) – he visited all our chapters – Bill Fickle, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, Madeleine Su and Susan Komis, as well as Fr Carl.

More recently some of our members have been able to travel outward to the greater Contemplative Outreach world: Hilary Tyghe, Kit McLoughlin, Janie Potgieter and Tony Butcher have all made retreats in the US; I attended the International Conference in Denver in 2017 and visited groups in Ireland and the UK.

Last year I was asked to join the Global Team, responsible for English-speaking Centering Prayer groups outside of the United States, and am excited to be serving on this along with Lesley O’Connor and Niamh Brennan from Ireland, Jill Benet from London, and Rose-Anna Trestrail from Trinidad and Tobago.

I think Winnie Young would be thrilled to see how the seeds she planted years have grown and borne fruit!