Contemplative Renewal Immersions

The Center for Clergy Renewal (CCR) 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 identity, ethnicity, theological training, denominational affiliation, years in ministry, and spiritual practice.

Is this program right for me?

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

  • Two onsite immersions into Holy Wisdom Monastery’s Christian contemplative spiritual practices.
  • Ongoing connections to the monastery, the cohort of pastors and the director of the CCR.
  • The Contemplative Renewal Online website that hosts contemplative resources and opportunities to remain connected to a network of pastors on the contemplative path.

Our goals are four-fold:

  • Support contemplative clergy renewal through spiritual practices and deepening their sense of call to ministry.
  • Form a supportive community of pastors who seek to offer contemplative leadership to congregations.
  • Offer online resources that will strengthen relationships among participants and sustain their spiritual practices and vitality.
  • Cultivate spiritual depth and vitality within the congregations that participants serve.

Program description

2023 Cohort

Starting in July of 2023, the CCR will welcome its fourth ecumenical cohort of 18 pastors to Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Participation in this cohort involves:

  • A one-year commitment to the Contemplative Renewal experience.
  • Serving a congregation located up to an 8-hour drive from the monastery.
  • Attendance at three residential retreats at Holy Wisdom monastery near Madison, WI.
    • Summer 2023 – Opening Retreat – July 10-17, 2023
    • Winter 2024 – January 18-24, 2024
    • Summer 2024 – Closing Retreat – June 17-20, 2024
  • Attending additional offerings of day-long in-person and online gatherings and ongoing Lectio Divina groups and Centering Prayer.

Applications are closed for the 2023 cohort.

2024 Cohort

Participation in the 2024 Cohort will be open to pastors anywhere in the USA and involve:

  • A two-year commitment to the Contemplative Renewal experience.
  • Attendance at two residential retreats at Holy Wisdom Monastery near Madison, WI.
    • Summer 2024 Immersion – July 7-15, 2024
    • January 2025 Immersion – January 23-29, 2025
  • Attending additional online small group and large group gatherings through the summer of 2026.
  • Beginning with the 2024 Cohort, there will be a fee of $500 for participation in the full 2-year program.

Additional program requirements:

  • Currently serve as an ordained pastor of a Christian congregation.
  • Hold a Master of Divinity or equivalent graduate degree from an accredited Seminary or Pastoral Ministry Program.
  • Have approximately 3-15 years of experience in ministry since graduation and ordination.
  • Are able to participate in the full scope of the year-long program – both the onsite and ongoing community.
  • Participants will be asked to assess their experience of spiritual renewal over the course of the year.

Applications will be open for the 2024 Cohort, October 15, 2023 – January 31, 2024.

Contemplative Immersion FAQs

1) What is the focus of the two immersions?


Summer Immersion

The 11-day Contemplative Renewal Immersion offers time for deep sabbath and immersion in the Benedictine rhythms of Holy Wisdom, including praying with the monastic community of sisters three times daily, encountering the restored prairies, and dedicating time for silence. During the course of this residential retreat pastors will develop and deepen their contemplative practices. There will be a balance of group and individual time for renewal. We will leave this time as a deeply connected cohort that journeys together for the next year supporting each other in our spiritual renewal and contemplative leadership goals.

Winter Immersion

For six days and five nights the cohort will focus on forming a Spiritual Rule (or Rhythm) of Life. For some, this may be a new experience and for others, it may involve re-forming a rule of life. Each pastor will present a Rule of Life to the cohort and the sisters’ community of Holy Wisdom near the end of this retreat.

2) Do I need to have been to a monastery and/or know much about Benedictine practices and spirituality?

There are no requirements for prerequisite knowledge or experience in a monastery. However, having an interest in and desire for the experience of silence and contemplative practices are important to the goals of the experience.

3) How much does it cost?

The $500 fee helps off-set the cost of the 17 days of residential contemplative renewal immersions. The reduced cost is made possible through a generous Lilly Endowment Grant and donations made by the communities of Holy Wisdom Monastery.

4) Is there any degree or credit given at the completion of the program?

Participants will receive a certificate of completion that describes the nature of the program. In addition, the CCR will communicate with the congregations at which participants serve to outline the resources and assets that the pastors will be bringing back to their ministry settings.

5) I do not fit in the 3-15 years of experience time frame; can I still apply?

The CCR is designed for early and mid-career pastors. If you are close to the years of experience we list, please do apply.

What pastors are saying about the contemplative renewal experience at Holy Wisdom Monastery

“Not only is my passion for ministry restored, but I now have so much more capacity to fruitfully and faithful engage in that ministry.” –Episcopal Priest

“Knowing I’m not alone, that I have others to practice with, experiment with, to turn to in my struggle, to explore how God is moving in and around me – this is the beginning of a tectonic shift, I sense. Slow, barely perceptible, yet causing ripples that go far beyond my individual personhood.” –Mennonite Pastor

“The gifts of contemplation, silence and a nurturing spaciousness have given way to a renewed confidence in my spiritual life. I feel receptive again to the presence of God. I leave offering a deeper, more holy gentleness to myself than before as well as the assurance of a companioning community of friends for the journey.”
–Episcopal Priest

“I believe the relationships and support I have gained this opening session of CCR has given me the strength and assurance to follow Jesus out beyond the community we formed here – and return to the wider community I serve. I sense the Benedictine practices of stability and hospitality will be particularly important as I return to my congregation. I look forward to seeing where the Spirit leads.”  –UCC Pastor

“Spending time in safe and vulnerable community with others who have had similar experiences in the unique vocation of pastoral ministry has been such a fruitful experience – the hours of prayer together with the sisters, the time being held in sacred conversation and listening, the space for renewing the soul feeding practices of our tradition. Sacred listening and stillness of soul – the intentional quieting of my mind so that I am able to listen – are all practices I will take with me.” –PC USA Pastor

“I felt drained and disconnected from God. God has been faithful and extended grace to me in my journey as a pastor. But I was concerned that at some point in ministry I would run out of the grace and would be lost in my ministry. I was good at putting on a facade that everything was okay. Now (after the immersion) I feel connected to God in different ways. I was reminded that I am beloved by God. Now I have some practical ways to reconnect when I feel disconnected.” –UM Pastor

“I had time this week to “pause”, “reset”, and “remember” who I am, whose I am as God’s beloved, and why I am called to ministry.”…”I needed (underlined for emphasis) this retreat! I was so empty, so depleted in every way. I can now see how a contemplative approach will bear fruit in my ministry, in my parenting, in my marriage. I feel I can step back into life as a renewed and refreshed person.” –UCC Pastor

“The difference in my spiritual life from when I initially applied to CCR to today is marked. After the immersion experience, I have a deeper level of groundedness, a sense of renewal, and practices that I can integrate as tools in my ongoing journey of ministry and humanity. I already feel a shift in my head and heart for my ministry setting – inspiration and a sense of expansiveness and peace fill me.” –ELCA Pastor

“I leave with a renewed sense of the centrality of God’s mercy and love in my ministry and see endless possibilities for how the attitude of contemplation with action will shape how I show up as a pastor and leader for my congregation. The gift of stillness and silence, even in small quantities can impact the outcomes of ministries. I see a clearer “why” to so many things that I am part of as a pastor.” –ELCA Pastor