Contemplative Outreach of Connecticut -

Greetings and Winter Blessings

Contemplative Outreach of Connecticut Quarterly Update
Winter 2023

With the Holiday Season upon us, we are sending our Winter 2023 Quarterly Update to coincide with the start of Advent. After Advent, celebrating the joy of Christmas and the promise of the New Year, winter will be settling in, which is a wonderful time to seek opportunities for Spiritual Reflection and further growth. 

Upcoming Local Christian Contemplative Programming
December 2022 - April 2023

December 2022:
December 2-4, 2022: A Thrill of Hope: A Contemplative Advent Retreat with Claire Rusowicz, Mercy By the Sea, 167 Neck Road, Madison, CT 06443

December 10, 2022 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Lectio Divina Advent Experience with Frank Pendola and Mike Smoolca, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford, CT 06107

January 2023:
January 28, 2023 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: The Contemplative Spirituality of Icons and Iconography with Marek Czarnecki, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford, CT 06107

February 2023:
February 11, 2023 - 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop with Mike Smoolca, Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470. Contact Cindy Anderau​ for more information.

February 18, 2023 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Body Presence and Contemplative Awareness: BioSpiritual Focusing Day of Presence with Donna O’Connor and Mike Smoolca, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford, CT 06107

February 25, 2023 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop with Mike Smoolca, Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, 31 Colton Street, Farmington, CT 06032

March 2023:
March 18, 2023 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: The Mystical Experience of Everyday Living with Sophfronia Scott, M.F.A., Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford, CT 06107

March 25, 2023 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop with Mike Smoolca or Frank Pendola, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford, CT 06107

April 2023:
April 15, 2023 - 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Fear, Freedom, and Levels of the Mind: Cultivating Interior Freedom in Fierce Times with Mark Kutolowski, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford, CT 06107   

For a full listing of events, visit
The Christian Contemplative Experience at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center is in its seventh season!

Join Frank Pendola and Mike Smoolca for an Advent Day of Lectio Divina Experience!

Take a day for yourself to bring the experience of Contemplative Prayer into your Advent season! Review and experience the method of Lectio Divina for praying sacred scripture. Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest in Scripture to nourish and deepen your relationship with God. During this day, we will experience other Lectio-inspired methods including Visio Divina and Musica Divina. In addition, Lectio methods will be applied to body senses and to noticing God’s action in our daily lives. This workshop will provide an enriching experience that can lead into Contemplation during Advent, Christmas, and the year ahead.

Frank and Mike are both members of the Contemplative Outreach of CT Coordinating team and Contemplative Outreach Commissioned Presenters.

Frank Pendola

Frank Pendola is a commissioned presenter for Contemplative Outreach and serves on the Contemplative Outreach of CT leadership team. He currently serves as music minister at local parishes in Rhode Island. Frank loves to lend his voice in chant or song as an aid to contemplative practice with friends from various denominations and spiritual traditions.

Mike Smoolca

Mike Smoolca is a contemplative group and workshop facilitator and a dedicated teacher and student of contemplative practice and wisdom spirituality. He is a Contemplative Outreach presenter and coordinator for the Christian Contemplative Experience at Holy Family, Contemplative Outreach of CT, and the Northern CT Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society. Mike is a practicing spiritual director and supervisor as well as a BioSpiritual Focusing companion and teacher.

Please visit the retreat web page for further information and to register for this special retreat experience.

The full Christian Contemplative Experience schedule is available online

Contemplative Outreach of CT - Chapter News

Contemplative Outreach of CT Chapter History 
Part 1 The Formative Years

Just as Centering Prayer finds and touches individuals, so, too, the growth of a Centering Prayer community may be found and touched. Such is the history of the inception of the Contemplative Outreach of CT Chapter starting in 2003. Prior to that time, Sister Carolyn Severino, ASCJ, attuned to the encouragement of a fellow religious, invited Fr. Bill Sheehan, OMI, to offer a presentation on Centering Prayer in Hamden, CT. Attendance was over 100 at the Provincialate of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and there was excitement in the air.

Heartened by this event, Sr. Carolyn initiated monthly gatherings at the newly formed Caritas Christi Center at Mt. Sacred Heart Provincialate. Between 2004 and 2008, Sr. Carolyn and Fr. Bill partnered in providing opportunities for practitioners to learn and grow through Fr. Bill’s various weekend presentations of The Welcoming Prayer, Prayer in Secret, Lectio Divina, The Forgiveness Prayer, and The Four Consents.

In October of 2008, Contemplative Outreach of Westchester, NY, sponsored their annual retreat at Graymoor Monastery in New York where Fr. Thomas Keating was presenting. Sr. Carolyn and several centering prayer practitioners from CT attended and met with Fr. Thomas. It was at this time Father Thomas shared his dream of forming a Chapter of Contemplative Outreach in CT.

Then in May, 2009, Fr. Thomas arranged to have a Visioning Day for the eventual purpose of establishing the CT Chapter of Contemplative Outreach. The day was led by Diane Harkin, Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of Westchester and Rosanne Havrid, Regional Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach (CO). The outcome resulted in official recognition of Contemplative Outreach of CT (CO-CT) in October, 2010.

Thereafter monthly meetings were formally held beginning with centering prayer followed by reflections on the theological and administrative principles. The meetings were co-coordinated by Sr. Carolyn Severino and Kenneth Martinelli. The CT Chapter grew assisted by the generosity of a donation of $500 from Westchester’s CO Chapter. Ongoing weekend offerings continued and included Divine Therapy with Diane Harkin, Dark Night of the Soul and Everyday Practices with Therese Saulnier and Centering Prayer Practice as an “11th Step Practice”with Tom S. These along with more from Fr. Bill and Therese laid the foundation for building a well developed chapter.

Sr. Carolyn continued to serve as Co-Coordinator with Pastor George Manukas until the end of 2016 at which time the role was transferred to Mike Smoolca. During these years of growth, many Centering Prayer groups were established. Monthly centering prayer meetings continue to be held at the Caritas Christi Center.

Key Dates:

  • 2003: Fr. Bill offers a presentation on CP in Hamden at Sr. Carolyn’s request
  • 2004-08: Fr. Bill and Sr. Carolyn partner to offer various weekend retreats
  • 2008: Sr. Carolyn and CT CP practitioners meet with Fr. Keating at Graymoor
  • 2009: Fr. Keating arranges for a Visioning Day
  • 2010: CO-CT officially recognized as a Contemplative Outreach Chapter
  • 2010-16: Fr. Bill, Diane Harkin, Therese Saulnier, Tom S provide CP retreat offerings
  • 2016: CO-CT Coordinator transferred from Sr. Carolyn to Mike Smoolca
Contemplative Outreach of CT Centering Prayer Presenter Training

We are in the process of planning our fourth Centering Prayer Presenter Training workshop which will be offered over Zoom in May 2023. 

Our Chapter is becoming recognized for our Zoom Presenter Training which has been offered since 2020. Currently applications are being accepted from members of various Contemplative Outreach Chapters throughout the US, as well as from Connecticut.

To find out more about past participants who attended our Presenter Training and to learn about the process of becoming a Commissioned Presenter of Centering Prayer visit our Presenter Training page

Prayer Group Outreach

Centering Prayer Group Point Persons, Patricia Wildes and Martha DiGiovanni organized our second Quarterly Prayer Group facilitator meeting over Zoom on Sunday October 2, 2022. Members representing different area Prayer Groups joined with Patricia and Martha to discuss issues pertinent to their prayer groups.

You can register your prayer group with us on our Prayer Group web page. If you would like to contact us about your Prayer Group please email:

Patricia and Martha will be reaching out again soon to coordinate the January 2023 quarterly Prayer Group facilitators meeting.
To find a list of local online prayer groups scroll down our web page:

Further opportunities to support your silent prayer practice and spiritual journey go to The Meditation Chapel, a Zoom-enabled, worldwide meditation community. All groups are free and open to all.

Read more about the groups on The Meditation Chapel here.
Feel free to let us know how we can better serve you and the local Contemplative Outreach Community. Contact us to list an event or for any other purpose by filling out the Contact Form at  or simply email us at We would love to hear from you and will respond as promptly as we can.

May this winter be a time of rest and growth!
                                         Mike Smoolca
                                         Coordinator, Contemplative Outreach of Connecticut
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Contemplative Outreach of CT · 8 Tennyson Drive · Granby, Connecticut 06035 · USA

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