Center for Clergy Renewal at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Renewal for pastors through the gifts of Benedictine monastic spirituality and community.

What is the Center for Clergy Renewal?

The Center for Clergy Renewal is located at Holy Wisdom Monastery, an ecumenical monastery rooted in Benedictine spirituality and nestled on 130 acres of prairie, oak savanna and pine woods on the north edge of Madison, Wisconsin.

The Center’s purpose is to renew the spiritual heart of pastors who are facing profound and exhausting challenges amidst the fast-paced shifts in their Christian congregations of all denominations. The Center for Clergy Renewal (CCR) offers pastors residential immersions into the monastic, contemplative life of the people, place, and spiritual practices of Holy Wisdom Monastery.

The CCR offers opportunities for pastors to experience contemplative renewal through two paths:

CONTEMPLATIVE RENEWAL IMMERSIONS – Extended cohort experiences over two years.

DEEP BREATH – Individual opportunities for spiritual renewal.

Contemplative Renewal Immersions

Pastors apply each year to participate in an ecumenical cohort of 18 pastors who experience two deep residential immersions into the rhythms of Holy Wisdom Monastery. The experience of contemplative renewal continues beyond the walls of Holy Wisdom through ongoing participation in contemplative community.

The program was created using the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry Fund. It is designed to offer early and mid-career clergy the opportunity to nourish their spiritual center by developing life-long, covenantal relationships between clergy peers. These deep connections create spiritual companioning, renewal of calling, and revitalization within the congregations they serve. Participating clergy cohorts will be diverse in many ways including but not limited to age, gender identity, ethnicity, theological training, denominational affiliation, years in ministry, and spiritual practice.


Deep Breath

Deep Breath merges the current opportunity for personal retreats at Holy Wisdom Monastery with the resources and support of CCR. Pastors come for self-guided retreats that offer space to take a deep breath and rest in the rhythm of the monastery and the beauty of the prairie.

This new offering for Pastors being offered in partnership between the Center for Clergy Renewal and Living Compass Spirituality and Wellness Initiative. (In addition to creating resources for congregations, Living Compass offers vocational and wellness coaching, as well as spiritual direction for clergy.) It is open to all clergy, regardless of where you are in your career or where you are currently serving. Your deep breath experience will be flexible to work with your schedule and your needs.


History and Context

In October 2018 the Benedictine Women of Madison received a $1 million grant from The Lilly Endowment, Inc.’s “Thriving in Ministry” initiative for the purpose of establishing the Center for Clergy Renewal at Holy Wisdom Monastery. The Benedictine Women of Madison is an ecumenical Christian monastic community of sisters, rooted in Benedictine spirituality, whose home is Holy Wisdom Monastery. Together with the associate communities of the monastery our mission is to weave prayer, hospitality, justice, and care for the earth into a shared way of life.

Since opening the retreat and guest house more than 50 years ago, the Benedictine Women of Madison have been welcoming people from all faith backgrounds to pray, study, and nourish one another. After years of experience with the many pastors, ministers, spiritual leaders, and theological and biblical scholars who have come to Holy Wisdom Monastery for spiritual renewal, they realized that at this point in its history Holy Wisdom Monastery is uniquely experienced and equipped to create and facilitate the Center for Clergy Renewal (CCR).

For the first five years the Center for Clergy Renewal was called the Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal (ECCSR). We have a new name, but the same important work – renewing the spirits of pastors.

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We are seeking support to continue the work of the Center for Clergy Renewal at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

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