53 Mill Street, Westfield, MA 01085 • 413.562.3627

Genesis School for Contemplative Living

Genesis School for Contemplative Living


To offer a formation program for the contemplative journey, rooted in the Christian wisdom tradition and an emerging, interspiritual, ecological and socially-engaged framework.


The Genesis School for Contemplative Living is a nine-month immersive formation program for the contemplative journey, rooted in the Christian wisdom tradition. Over the course of five residential retreat weekends, we will explore contemplative vision and practice within an emerging ecological, interspiritual and socially-engaged framework. Learning will be intellectual and experiential, seeking to nourish both head and heart for the transformational journey. Residencies will include teaching, periods of practice, ritual, and group process. In between residential weekends, formation will continue through study, conference calls, and online community. While rooted in the Christian tradition, we welcome participants from all and no faith background.

 The School qualifies for 8 Religious Studies CEUs through Our Lady of the Elms College!

"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


Don Bisson, FMS; Jane Comerford, CSJ; Dr. Robert Jonas; Christina Leano; Liz Walz, ASP; Rev. Matthew Wright

Brother Don Bisson is a national and international presenter on spirituality and transpersonal psychology. He holds a Doctorate from the Pacific School of Religion, a Post Graduate Certificate from the University of San Francisco in Pastoral Ministry, a Masters in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University with emphasis in Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction, and a Masters in Theology from University of Notre Dame. He is beloved for the depth of his presentations and story-telling.

Jane Comerford, CSJ is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who has served as the director of spirituality centers in Seattle, Spokane, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. With degrees in education and spirituality and a certificate in expressive arts therapy, she is known for innovative and creative programs and retreats. Jane has taught in several spiritual direction training programs and for the Methodist Formation Academy. She has also designed and led pilgrimages to sacred sites in Nepal, India and Ireland. She is the Director of the Sabbatical Program at Genesis, a spiritual director and retreat leader.

Dr. Robert A Jonas is the founder and director of the Empty Bell, a contemplative sanctuary in Northampton, MA, with a special emphasis on Buddhist-Christian dialog and on the arts. He holds an MA in Theological Studies from Weston School of Theology, and a Doctorate from Harvard in psychology and education. Jonas is an author, musician and retreat leader. A Christian in the Carmelite tradition, he has also received spiritual formation with Buddhist teachers. He is on the Board of the Henri Nouwen Society and co-founded with the Wilderness Society, Project Noah, an effort to connect people of faith with wilderness protection.

Christina Leano has experience which spans more than 10 years of spiritual guidance and program leadership to diverse audiences. Her work is grounded in her Catholic contemplative background (Benedictine and Cistercian), 18 years of Buddhist studies and practice, 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. Christina is on staff with the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Rev. Matthew Wright is an Episcopal priest, writer, and retreat leader working to renew the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider interspiritual framework. 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.  Matthew lives with his wife, Yanick, alongside the brothers of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY.

Theological Approach

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

Learning Outcomes

To develop a daily contemplative practice

To develop a Rule of Life

To integrate skillfulness in daily life and dealing with difficult emotions; to cultivate an embodied spirituality

To have an intellectual and theological framework for understanding this moment in history.

To understand and apply the School lenses to your life circumstance: Christian, Contemplative, Evolutionary, Interspiritual, Prophetic.

Each residential weekend will have specific learning outcomes related to the content for that weekend.

Dates for the On-Site Sessions

September 27-30, 2018 (Thurs – Sun) Methods of Practice and Roots in Christian Tradition

November 30 - Dec 2, 2018 (Fri – Sun) Holy Trinity, Contemplative Practice and Interspiritual Dialog

Jan 11 – 13, 2019 (Fri – Sun) Embodying Practice in Daily Life

March 21 – 24, 2019 (Fri – Sun) Human and Divine Suffering

May 16 – 19, 2019 (Thur – Sun) Living from the Heart of Love in the World



Five residential weekends

Reading assignments

Small group video conferencing between residential weekends

On-line message board / Q&A forum

15 minute mentoring session with faculty at each residential session



We will teach and experience a variety of contemplative practices including but not limited to:

Silence Practices Centering Prayer, Christian Meditation (John Main), Mindfulness, Loving Kindness, Teacher/family/Ancestors/benefactors, Prayer of the Heart, Mantram meditation, Practicing Presence/folk prayer; Lectio Divina.

Body Practices: BioSpiritual Focusing, Shinrin Yoku/Forest Air Bathing, Chanting, Qi Gong

Intended Audience

For beginners and experienced meditators alike.

For people from all and no faith background who are interested in the Christian contemplative tradition.

Fee Structure

Tuition for the nine-month program, materials, and room and board for five weekend sessions is $2,800.


Tuition & Materials* $1,245  
Room and Board or Five Weekends/12 nights; 36 meals $1,555
Total $2,800

 The School qualifies for 8 Religious Studies CEUs through Our Lady of the Elms College!


For more information or to receive the application for the Genesis School for Contemplative Living by mail, contact
413-562-3627 ext. 105

You may download the application at the bottom of the page linked here: GSCL Application. Applications are due by midnight on Saturday, June 30 with a $35 nonrefundable application fee.   

From its beginning the earth is a spiritual as well as a physical reality.
-Thomas Berry