2019 & 2020 Retreats Schedule


Contemplative Living

October 20–24, 2019 (Sun. to Thurs.)
— FULL w/waiting list

Presenter: Mary Dwyer

This five day retreat will explore how our Contemplative Practices shape our daily life. Contemplative Living is the call to bring the contemplative dimension of the Gospel into our every day, ordinary lives filled with ordinary activities.

How do we lead ordinary lives with extraordinary love?

We will share in community extended periods of Centering Prayer, Silence, and conferences exploring the Welcoming Prayer, Forgiveness Process/Practice, Lectio Divina, and other prayer practices. Our hope is that each of us commits to a personal ‘rule of life’ that supports and sustains our deepest desires. “… centering prayer is a life to be lived. Not just a method.” Thomas Keating.

Prior Centering Prayer experience is helpful.

Mary Dwyer is a long-time student of Fr. Thomas Keating and has been practicing Centering Prayer since the 1980s. In the early 1990’s, she lived at Chrysalis House, a contemplative live-in community experiment blessed by Fr. Thomas. Her housemates included Mary Mrozowski, David Frenette and Cathy McCarthy. The community lived according to a rule of life, and became an incubator of practice and programs in the early years of Contemplative Outreach’s growth. It was her experience at Chyrsalis House – what she refers to as her “inpatient” or “residential treatment time” – that proved to her that a life of prayer, consent and practice is real, stable and deeply rewarding. Mary Mrozowski taught her that a devoted life of prayer was the real work of life; what we did the rest of the time was just how we made a living.

In 2008 she met her beloved Juan through the Living Flame program. She moved to Miami, FL in 2009 and they married. Juan recently retired and they moved back to Erie, PA in July, 2018.

Mary is currently serving as a member of the Gift Committee of Contemplative Outreach. She previously has served as Chairperson of the Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. Governing Board; member of the Contemplative Outreach Faculty; Member of the Welcoming Prayer service team, and Coordinator for the Living Flame program. Mary now devotes her time to giving retreats and workshops on behalf of Contemplative Outreach throughout the US and internationally.

Offering: $275 per person (includes overnights & meals)
Deposit: $75 (nonrefundable)

Arrival: Anytime after 3pm and supper 5:30pm
Departure: Noon

Register Now

Icon Writing Workshop

November 3-9, 2019 (Sunday – Saturday)

Presenter: Mary Kay Laplante Mary Kay Laplante will return to Bethany Retreat Center to share her love of icons and the spirit-filled process by which they are created. Come join us and spend a week immersed in prayer while you paint an image of one of the most beloved Western Saints: St. Francis of Assisi. As we each paint his image we will share Francis’ story and his unique witness to a living and acting God present in all creation.

Painting an icon is as much a contemplative form of prayer as an artistic discipline, Previous artistic experience is not a pre-requisite. Just bring a willing desire to participate in the process and an openness to a new experience. Students will receive step-by-step instructions and all necessary materials will be provided. The underlying theology of each step will be emphasized.
The days will include class instruction and painting, personal prayer time, optional Centering Prayer, daily Mass and home-cooked meals provided by the Bethany staff.

For more information about the workshop itself contact: Mary Kay Laplante at mklaplante11@gmail.com


“I found the experience of learning to write an icon with Mary Kay Laplante to be a rich and rewarding experience, spiritually and artistically. I was struck by the way Mary Kay was able to meet each student where they were in their own artistic knowledge. This is spiritually meaningful work for her, and she was able to demonstrate that importance through the seriousness and intensity with which she conveyed what she knows. But that seriousness was coupled with her evident delight too–particularly in the painting act itself. Mary Kay loves to paint icons and her delight and commitment to this art is an inspiration to those who have the opportunity to study with her.”
Barbara Campbell Thomas, 2017 Icon Workshop participant

“I came to the Bethany Retreat Center and the Icon Writing Workshop knowing not a thing about either. Mary Kay’s passion and knowledge, not just for the art but for the faith lived out through art, continues to inspire me. As I gaze at my icon each morning, as I start my day and I pray my morning prayers, I know that I have grown deeper in faith because of the time I spent at Bethany Retreat Center. It was a privilege to have been taught by her and to have been touched by her grace.”
Reverend Christina Perkins, 2017 and 2018 Icon Workshop participant

Partial scholarships available based upon need

Arrival: Sunday after 3pm & Supper at 5pm ~ Departure: Saturday around Noon

Tuition & Offering:
$550 for class instruction & ALL icon materials
$375 for lodging (private rooms) and meals
Deposit: $250 (non-refundable)

Register Now

Personal Days of Renewal

November 4-8, 2019 (Mon. to Fri.)

You are invited to take a day or days of personal retreat to focus on your “self care”. How am I taking care of myself spiritually, physically, and emotionally? Bethany Retreat Center is offering days of renewal for those who want to come for a day, overnight, or a few days to join the Sisters for prayer and daily Mass, walk the grounds, opportunity for reconciliation, and home-cooked meals.

Offering: $80 per night (includes meals)
Deposit: $25 (nonrefundable)

Register Now

Drum Making

Saturday, November 9, 2019 ~ 9am to 5pm
Presenter: Thomas Long

In this workshop we will gather to make our own unique traditional-style hand-drums. Everything you need to build your own sacred instrument is included! Building a drum is a sacred ceremony, and, as it is with all things, it should be done in a good way. When we are finished (see photo) we will have a nice Wopila (wo-pee-lah) or Thanksgiving. Each of the elements used in making these sacred instruments has specific meaning for their use, and will be shared during the workshop. These “lessons” provide each retreatant with an experience rich in tradition, and takes them beyond just the basic skill of assembling a drum.

Thomas Long attended a workshop at which he built his first traditional style hand drum. During the workshop the instructor announced that she was not going to offer the workshop any longer, and was looking for an apprentice. His hand went up immediately – that was 20 years ago! This rich “journey” has taken him from an intimate workshop in York, PA to the Black Hills of South Dakota, and back, studying the varied designs and stories of drum from native elders, and tribal drum makers. These “lessons” he has learned, are instrumental in the evolution of the style of drums that he builds today. Mitakuye Oyasin! We are all relatives.


$190 per person ~ includes meals & ALL drum making materials
$240 per person ~ Friday Supper & Overnight, workshop Saturday, Breakfast & Lunch and ALL drum making materials
Deposit: $75 (Non-refundable)
Arrival: Saturday ~ 8:30am – Coffee available, workshop begins at 9am

Register Now – You must register early in order to give Tom enough time to order all the required materials.

Advent Centering Prayer Weekend

December 13-15, 2019

Theme: Advent & Christmas Series ~ Bridges to Contemplative Living with writings from Fr. Thomas Merton

Take some time during this Holy Season of Advent and journey with us! This retreat for Advent and Christmas opens the writings of Thomas Merton into easily digestible pieces and eloquently pairs them with the words of other great spiritual thinkers.

The weekend will include conference, prayer, personal time, meals, Mass in an environment of silence. This retreat is designed for those with an established daily practice of centering prayer who wish to deepen the transforming love of God in the midst of silence and solitude.

Offering: $190 per person (includes overnights, meals, & book)
Deposit: $75 (nonrefundable)

Arrival: After 3pm and Supper at 6pm
Departure: 11am, Sunday

Register Now

Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service

Including Presenter’s Training
January 26-31, 2020 (Sun. to Fri.)

Facilitators: Therese Saulnier, Sr. Ruth Ann Madera & Nancy Cord Baran

What is Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service?

The purpose of Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service, including Presenter’s Training, is to provide an intensive Christian community experience in order to better understand and grasp the essentials of the Centering Prayer method and thus be able to share it appropriately with others.

The theory is “Good practitioners make good presenters, facilitators, and administrative helpers.” Because the group spends four days focusing on the Centering Prayer practice itself, they better understand the essentials of Centering Prayer and the many nuances of the practice. This deeper understanding helps them to better recognize that contemplative service is service freely offered without expectation of return.

Contemplative Service is not tied to roles or only those willing to function in a specific way. Rather one sees a need and fills it. Contemplative Service is God in us serving God in others.

The schedule includes:

  • One and a half hours of Centering Prayer daily
  • Presentations by the staff of one conference of Session one of An Introduction to Centering Prayer each morning.
  • Participants present portions of the same material to a small group in the afternoons.
  • Discussion of Issue

Criteria for Register for: Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service

  • Participated in “An Introduction to Centering Prayer”
  • Established Centering Prayer practice – minimum of daily two twenty-minute periods ~ for three years.
  • Participated in an 8- or 10-day Centering Prayer Intensive Retreat, either before attending Formation or within one year after attending Formation, and before becoming fully commissioned. If intensive retreats are not geographically available (or) Participated in a 5 or 7 day Centering Prayer Intensive Retreat (or) Participated in four weekend silent Centering Prayer Retreats over previous 3 years
  • Studied Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating. Preferably has also read/studied Invitation to Love, Mystery of Christ, and/or Spiritual Journey materials by Thomas Keating (Tapes, CDs, DVDs or transcripts).
  • Has been recommended by a Chapter Coordinator or Contact Person, or (in an underdeveloped chapter) by a commissioned presenter who is willing to mentor and recommend him/her for full commissioning after serving a minimum of one year as a presenter-in-training.

To register fill out the online reservation form. We will then email you an application form and reference form to fill out and send back for approval to attend the training.

Offering: $625 per person – Room & Board, Private Room
Includes Retreat Materials & Presenters Handbook
Deposit: $150 (nonrefundable)

Arrival: Sunday anytime after 3pm, Supper at 5:30pm
Departure: Friday around 1pm.

Register Now

11th Step Retreat

March 20 – 22, 2020

Presenters: Nancy Cord-Baran, Carolyn Yankovitz & Michael Gidlewski

11th Step – “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

This retreat is for people who participate in any 12-Step Recovery program to introduce or expand and deepen the experience of Contemplative Prayer as part of a daily 11th Step practice.

Centering Prayer is a simple method of prayer rooted in ancient Christian practice that opens us to God’s presence and divine healing. It is simply moving deep within ourselves, in silence, saying nothing, asking for nothing, just being and allowing our Higher Power to be with us.

The retreat will offer an environment of solitude and silence in community with time for reflection, fellowship, and a 12-Step Meeting. For those new to Contemplative Prayer, the retreat is an Introductory Workshop on Centering Prayer in the context of 12-Step recovery. For participants who have been with us before, there is an optional Track II program and an extra retreat day and night, beginning Thursday.

Please let us know of your interest in Track II and/or the extra day when you register.

Retreat staff have been active in 12-Step programs for many years. They have completed the Formation for Contemplative Service process of Contemplative Outreach as well as the Formation Training for Presenting and Leading Retreats for Contemplative Prayer and the 12-Steps. Brochures available.

Offering: $200 per person
Deposit: $75 nonrefundable
Arrival: Friday 4:30pm registration
Departure: After lunch on Sunday

Register Now

Drumming & Native American Spirituality

~ A unique Drumming Experience ~
Presenter: Tom Campbell
Saturday, April 4, 2020 ~ 10am – 4pm

Our Drums will echo again at Bethany on April 4th! Our 7th drumming retreat will include lunch, group drumming, storytelling, ritual, ceremony, prayer and an experience of Native American culture. If you attended previously, there is always something new and if you haven’t experienced the power of group drumming, join us for this daylong retreat.

Drumming connects you to a deeper part of yourself and the Great Spirit – God.

No experience necessary
Drums will be provided OR bring your own.

Tom Campbell has led the last six drumming retreats at Bethany; close to 50 people attended each of the last two years! He has been leading retreats for 35 years, and he has been drumming over 30 years; leading drumming workshops/retreats in homes, churches, community centers and businesses. Tom has studied Native American spirituality for 30 years. Its Creator-centered approach to life with a reverence toward the Earth and all creatures on it, resonates with his Catholic upbringing.

Offering: $30 per person
Deposit: $15 (nonrefundable)

Arrival: 9:30am
Departure: 4pm

Friday Overnight Accommodations: $90 per person

Register Now

Outdoor Stations of the Cross
Good Friday, April 10, 2020
10am – regardless of weather

Everyone is welcome!


7-Day Intensive Contemplative Prayer Retreat

June 14 – 20, 2020 (Sun. to Sat.)
July 26 – Aug. 1, 2020 (Sun. to Sat.)

Facilitators: Sr. Rita Panciera, Sr. Ruth Ann Madera, & Fr. Philip Billotte

Bethany Retreat Center is providing an in-depth retreat for those with experience with Centering Prayer who wish to enter into a more profound level of spiritual practice. The retreat enables the participants to deepen their contemplative journey in the contemporary world. Integration of contemplation and activity are cultivated in the silence, solitude, community support and guidance in the time at Bethany.

Requirements for Making the Intensive Retreat:
Contemplative Outreach, under whose auspices these retreats are given, require that those who participate in the Intensive Retreat be regular practitioners of Centering

(Massage Therapist available – not included in the cost.)

Limited Scholarship Available

Arrival: Sunday after 4pm & Supper at 6pm
Departure: 11am, Saturday

Offering: $490 per person (private room)
Deposit: $150 nonrefundable

Register Now

7-Day POST Intensive Contemplative Prayer Retreat

June 14 – 20, 2020 (Sun. to Sat.)
July 26 – Aug. 1, 2020 (Sun. to Sat.)

Facilitators: Sr. Rita Panciera, Sr. Ruth Ann Madera & Fr. Philip Billotte

The purpose of the retreat is to assist the participants in entering into a more intimate silence in a nurturing, supportive environment that combines both solitude and community. The Post Intensive is a next step into a profound silence and stillness in order to facilitate a more intimate union with God.

Requirements for Making the Post-Intensive Retreat

  1. Be regular practitioners of Centering Prayer
  2. Have made a 5 day or longer Intensive Retreat prior to making the Post-Intensive Retreat

(Massage Therapist available – not included in the cost.)

Arrival: Sunday after 4pm & Supper at 6pm
Departure: 11am, Saturday

Offering: $490 per person (private room)
Deposit: $150 nonrefundable

Register Now

Contemplative Outreach of Central Pa Presents:

Welcoming Prayer Retreat

September 25-27, 2020

Presenter: Sr. Rita Panciera, RSM

The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in the events and situations in daily life. It provides a method of being aware of our physical and emotional reactions and a method of dealing with them prayerfully in the midst of daily life.

The Welcoming Prayer helps to dismantle the emotional programs of the false-self system and to heal the wounds of a lifetime by addressing them where they are stored – in the body. It contributes to the process of transformation in Christ initiated in Contemplative Prayer.

The time together will be both retreat and workshop, with opportunity for silence and Centering Prayer in community. Also, participants will be introduced to the actual method of the Welcoming Prayer and provided with opportunities to practice. Discussions will include the human condition and the false-self system as the conceptual background of the Welcoming Prayer practice. There will be time for focusing, working with what is happening in our bodies and practicing the prayer.

Sr. Rita Panciera, RSM is a Sister of Mercy and Director of the House of Prayer in Erie, PA. She has been an experienced practitioner of Centering Prayer for many years and has facilitated many Centering Prayer retreats and programs, both at Bethany Retreat Center and elsewhere.
Brochures available.

Offering: $200 per person
Deposit: $75 nonrefundable

Arrival: Friday 4:30pm registration
Departure: After lunch on Sunday

Register Now

5-Day, 4-Day, and Weekend Contemplative Prayer Retreat

Dates to be announced

Bethany Retreat Center is providing an opportunity for Centering Prayer practitioners to deepen their practice and relationship with God by joining with others in a silent community and the experience of immersion in Contemplative Prayer apart from our ordinary life. This retreat will include three periods of prayer, daily Mass and one video conference each day. The rest of the retreat will be in deep silence and solitude.
Prior Centering Prayer experience is required.

Arrival EACH day is after 4pm in time for 5:30pm Supper.


Holy Week Personal Days of Renewal

2020 Dates to be Announced

Bethany Retreat Center is offering days of renewal during Holy Week for those who want to come for a day, overnight, or a few days. Each day there will be Mass, opportunity for reconciliation, walking the grounds, personal prayer and home-cooked meals. On Tuesday night at 7pm we have indoor Stations of the Cross and on Friday we will have outdoor Stations of the Cross at 10am (regardless of the weather).


Departure for all retreatants is on Friday by Noon.
There is no breakfast or lunch served on Friday – it is observed as a day of fast.

Pondering Our Hearts with Mary
2020 Dates to be Announced

Presenters: Sr. Ruth Ann Madera, C.A. & Monica Nachman

You are invited to spend a day praying with Mary who leads up to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A wonderful gift for Mother’s Day; bring your mother, daughter, sister, or a friend. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.


Contemplative Outreach of Central Pa presents:

Contemplative Attitudes Through the Practice of Centering Prayer

Nancy Cord-Baran & Roberta White

A Retreat Based on the work of David Frenette
Dates to be announced
Presenters: Roberta White and Nancy Cord-Baran

In the teachings of Jesus, there are prayers, and then there is prayer—the silent, loving communion with the divine, beyond words or ritual. With Father Thomas Keating’s book Open Mind, Open Heart, hundreds of thousands discovered the transformative power of Centering Prayer as a form of Christian meditation. Now, with The Path of Centering Prayer, Keating’s senior student, friend, and adviser, David Frenette, reveals the profound depths of this practice, facilitating a deepening of intimacy with God.

The retreat will focus on the contemplative attitudes, as reflected upon in David’s book. It will also include silence and Centering Prayer.

Contemplative attitudes, the fruits of contemplative prayer, are revealed in daily life and we will explore how to foster them. Such qualities as simplicity, gentleness, letting go, resting in God, embracing, and finally integrating one’s experience of prayer into one’s daily life, are paired with David’s Guided Meditations.

This retreat is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned practitioners.

Roberta White has been involved with Contemplative Outreach since 2001. She has led retreats throughout the country on Centering Prayer, the Forgiveness Prayer, Lectio Divina, the Welcoming Prayer Practice and Centering Prayer as an 11th Step Practice. She has served on the Formation Team for those preparing to become commissioned Centering Prayer workshop presenters. Roberta formerly served as co-coordinator of the Atlanta Chapter of Contemplative Outreach and is currently a member of the Contemplative Outreach of Atlanta Leadership Team.

Nancy Cord-Baran is a Spiritual Director and Co-Coordinator for Contemplative Outreach of Central Pa. She is a commissioned presenter for the Introduction to Centering Prayer workshop and has served on the Formation Team who has been practicing Centering Prayer since 1998.

Check in is from 3:00 to 5:00 Friday afternoon. There will be an optional video on the method of Centering Prayer (recommended for those new to the practice) at 4:00 PM.

A reception and welcoming at 5:30 begins the retreat, followed by dinner.