Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of Centering Prayer in Poland

offered by Tomek Jelinski

At the end of September, Contemplative Outreach celebrated 10 years of its presence in Poland. To mark the occasion, a weekend meeting of members and supporters of the movement was held in Wadowice in the south of the country.

Early on Friday evening, the participants were greeted by a rainbow, a sign of God’s covenant with God’s children. The two days were filled with Centering Prayer, small and large group meetings, reflection on our journey so far and a look at what the future may hold. It was a time filled with gratitude for the journey we have taken so far and with trust in God’s continued guidance for the future. The long-time members of the community shared their memories as well. An online meeting with distinguished guests from the USA (Pat Johnson and Jim McElroy), who spoke about the beginnings of Contemplative Outreach and its current situation, was a very important part of the celebration. There was also time for an Agape and intuitive dance. Wishes for Contemplative Outreach Poland were sent by those representing friendly communities practising silent prayer, e.g. WCCM.

Throughout the 10 years of Contemplative Outreach’s presence in Poland, its coordinator has been Fr Wojciech Drazek, a missionary of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Marianhill, who often says that Poland is currently a missionary country and that it is here that his missionary activities are being carried out. From the very beginning of Contemplative Outreach Poland, the Irishman Seamus Cullen, a long-time practitioner of Centering Prayer and spiritual director, who was also present at the meeting in Wadowice, cooperated with Fr Drążek in the work of spreading Centering Prayer and the teachings of Fr Thomas Keating.

At present there are nearly 20 Centering Prayer groups within Contemplative Outreach Poland, scattered throughout the country. Some of these groups operate online. There are more than a dozen locally trained presenters of Centering Prayer in the country, including one who is also a commissioned presenter of Centering Prayer as an 11th Step practice who has undergone full formation with the 12 Step Outreach. Fr Drążek has translated three books by Fr Thomas Keating into Polish: Open Mind, Open Heart, Invitation to Love and Intimacy with God. The recordings of “The Six Follow-Up Sessions” and Fr Keating’s talks “Spiritual Journey” with Polish subtitles are also available to Centering Prayer practitioners in Poland, with the translation having been done by some community members. Fr. Drążek regularly leads contemplative retreats several times a year, which attract many people, and every Sunday he gives an online teaching called “The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”, which has an increasing number of participants (between 100 and 200 each Sunday). Those who are interested can also take part in the Centering Prayer introductory workshops organised by Fr Drazek and some of the presenters.

The Polish Contemplative Outreach Community is relatively young and has many tasks and challenges ahead, but it is definitely a bright spot on the spiritual map of Poland. May the divine light of love and discernment guide the people of the Contemplative Outreach Poland on their further journey with God.