Ecumenical Center
for Clergy Spiritual Renewal

Renewal for mid and early-career pastors through the gifts of Benedictine monastic community and spirituality.

What is the ECCSR?

The Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal (ECCSR) offers spiritual renewal to Christian pastors through immersion experiences into the life of Holy Wisdom Monastery, and an ongoing community of monastic resources and support that extends beyond the walls of Holy Wisdom. The program offers early and mid-career clergy the opportunity to nourish their spiritual center by developing life-long, covenantal relationships between clergy peers.

These deep connections will 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, ethnicity, theological training, denominational affiliation, years in ministry, and spiritual practice.

Is this program right for me?

The ECCSR welcomes people from all Christian faith backgrounds into sacred space to pray, study and nourish one another through two experiences:

  • Two onsite immersions into Holy Wisdom Monastery’s Christian contemplative spiritual practices.
  • An online monastic experience that transforms lives and communities through the rituals and teachings available at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Our goals are three-fold:

  • Support clergy renewal through spiritual practices and deepening their sense of call to ministry.
  • Form a monastery without walls that will strengthen relationships among participants and sustain their spiritual vitality.
  • Cultivate spiritual depth and vitality within the congregations participants serve.

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 an Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual 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 saw that at this point in its history Holy Wisdom Monastery is uniquely experienced and equipped to create and facilitate an Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal (ECCSR).

Rooted in the Rule of Benedict

“The Rule of Benedict is not concerned with a single time and place, a single view of the church, a single set of devotions or a single ministry. The Rule of Benedict is concerned with life: what it’s about, what it demands, how to live it. And it has not failed a single generation.” -Joan Chittister, OSB

Exploring the blessings of life together in community and practicing the rhythms of Benedictine monastic life provide the program’s foundation for helping clergy thrive in ministry.  The Rule of St. Benedict is the spiritual foundation that guides the understanding of pastoral ministry and leadership of the Benedictine Women of Madison and the communities of Holy Wisdom Monastery.

The Rule, written over six centuries ago as a guide for living in community, teaches that ministry and leadership are lived out, by the grace of God, in and through community. The leader, who is chosen by the community and given the grace of the office does not lead in isolation. The Prologue to the Rule begins with the word “listen.” This listening is best done in and through community. Following the Biblical command to love God, love neighbor, and love self, pastoral leaders are to listen to and love God, people both in and outside their local congregations, and themselves.

Building on this understanding of the nature and purpose of pastoral ministry, the Rule of St. Benedict grounds and guides the people and programs of the ECCSR. The Benedictine values of beauty, balance, simplicity, silence, and respect for the whole creations shape the clergy cohort’s daily experiences of prayer, hospitality, justice, and care for the earth.