53 Mill Street, Westfield, MA 01085 • 413.562.3627

Genesis School for Contemplative Living


"Contemplative communities are more than ever necessary to counterbalance the deep resistance to maturity and evolution as a species. As Jung said in 1960, 'our technology is outpacing our consciousness'; we are at a crossroads and the coming together for contemplative practice and action is essential." 

~  Brother Don Bisson


Genesis School for Contemplative Living - 2021-2022 Cohort



Genesis’ fourth incarnation of the School for Contemplative Living will begin in September 2021. With five residential weekends, and in-person or online group meetings between sessions, the school is a formation program for the contemplative journey, rooted in the Christian wisdom tradition in an emerging interspiritual, ecological, and socially engaged framework.

The GSCL qualifies for CEU credits through Our Lady of the Elms College. 


Theological Approach

This program will be taught through Christian, Contemplative, Evolutionary, Prophetic, and Interspiritual lenses.


Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a daily contemplative practice
  • Create a Rule of Life
  • Integrate skillfulness in daily life and dealing with difficult emotions; cultivate embodied spirituality
  • Aquire an intellectual framework for understanding this moment in history
  • Understand and apply the School lenses to your life circumstance: Christian, Contemplative, Evolutionary, Interspiritual, Prophetic.


Dates for the On-Site Sessions 

  • September 23-26, 2021       
  • November 19-21, 2021       
  • January 14-16, 2022       
  • March 18-20, 2022       
  • May 19-22, 2022

During the five residential weekends, learning is both intellectual and experiential, nourishing both the head and the heart for the transformational journey. Each residential weekend will have specific learning outcomes related to the content for that weekend.



Weekends consist of:

  • Communal silent practice
  • Presentations with Question and Response
  • Individual reflection and journaling; small group process; large group gleaning
  • Ritual and liturgy
  • Contemplative movement
  • Opportunity for one-on-one mentoring related to your contemplative practice

Between residential weekends, learning continues through a commitment to daily practice, group meetings or video calls, and study.


Intended Audience

This program is designed for beginner and experienced meditators and spiritual seekers. People from any faith tradition, or none. All are welcome. 


Core Faculty

Fr. Norman Comtois, OMI, MA is an ordained Catholic priest and member of the Missionary Oblates.  His experience in Pastoral Counseling, Intentional Eucharistic Communities and Renewal programs for women religious continue to inform his ministry as a current retreat director. Since the year 2000 he has devoted his interest and education toward developing retreats and courses that bring the Universe Story to life in a spiritually relevant and meaningful way. Father Norm encourages those attending his presentations and retreats to ponder the wisdom of their religious tradition in the context of the Universe Story and of contemplative ecology. 

Christina Leaño brings over 12 years of experience offering spiritual programs and guidance to diverse audiences. From weekend retreats to spiritual direction, nature-based experiences to meditation classes, her passion is to create opportunities to facilitate people's spiritual growth and integration while highlighting the seamlessness between personal and social transformation; contemplation and action.

Christina's work is grounded in her Catholic contemplative background, her Buddhist studies and practice of 20 years, training as a mindfulness teacher, and lifelong commitment to ecological and social justice.  She holds a BA from Yale University and an MA from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

Liz Walz, ASP, Executive Director of Genesis, draws on her experience as a Catholic Worker, Plowshares activist, non-violence trainer, yoga teacher and massage therapist.  She is trained as a Spiritual Director and BioSpiritual Focusing Facilitator.

Rev. Matthew Wright is an Episcopal priest, writer, and retreat leader working to renew the Christian Wisdom tradition. He serves as priest-in-charge at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, NY and is a teacher for Northeast Wisdom and The Contemplative Society, non-profits rooted in the teaching lineage of Cynthia Bourgeault.  Matthew lives with his wife, Yanick, alongside the brothers of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY.

Br. Don Bisson, FMS is, first and foremost, a spiritual director and is widely respected as a specialist in the training, formation and supervision of spiritual directors. 

A Marist brother based in Esopus, New York, he has graduate degrees in liturgy, spirituality, and transpersonal psychology, and earned his Doctor of Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion specializing in Spiritual Direction and Jungian Psychology.  With more than 90 live audio recordings available, Brother Bisson is internationally recognized for his lectures, workshops, and retreats on the interrelationship of Christian spirituality and Jungian psychology.

His soulful humanity makes Don attractive to the hundreds of people who find their way to virtually everything he offers.  He is a man committed to “walking the talk.”  From this commitment comes a grounded wisdom and an authentic humility.  His gems of wisdom have been formed in the heat and pressure of the deep underground passage of his own healing journey in God.  Compassion for what it means to be human is the result, alongside clarity about the compelling call of the Spirit to “wake up” and participate consciously in God’s purposes in our world.  This waking up is not an achievement but a process that invites him–and us–into a transformation that is ongoing.


What Former Students are Saying

"It wasn’t one part, but all the parts integrating with each other. Great variety in helping me let go of things in my faith that no longer serve me. Also, so many options were presented as prayer to help me pick and choose what I wanted to use as my practice."


"The interaction with others, the guidance of staff, all of the above contributed to my practice and understanding of a more mature theology."


"I thought that the flow of topics from weekend to weekend was well planned. My favorites were compassion and ecology. I felt a growing personal connection with the Divine Presence as the program progressed."


"The Rule of Life assignment really helped me to pull it all together. I am glad that I was exposed to many ideas and with the help of my home group support, I have established daily prayer, embodiment, mindfulness and social action practices."


Fee Structure

Tuition for the nine-month program, materials, and room and board for five weekend sessions is $2,800 if paid in two or more installments, or $2,500 if paid in full by September 1, 2021. Financial aid is available.



Download the application for the 2021-2022 cohort here.

For more information on the 2021-2022 Genesis Contemplative Living School, please contact lizw@GenesisSpiritualCenter.org 
413-562-3627 ext. 104.


Faith makes all things possible, and love makes them easy. Faith in God is never out of season. Faith justifies the believer, but love justifies his faith by the works which it produces. Faith believes God to be true; love proves faith to be true.
- Charles H. Spurgeon