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Welcome to ICCD

If you’ve come to this website because you too are in search of new ways to bring about change, permit me to introduce you to this site and the mission and work of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. Founded in 2002, ICCD seeks new ways of engaging the impasse that many persons experience as they struggle to bring about systemic change in societal and ecclesial arenas. Since its beginning ICCD has recognized that all the usual ways of addressing such “no way out situations” are inadequate. ICCD believes that the only way to address these situations is to bring them to the deep inner resources of contemplation. ICCD believes we are living in a critical time for the evolution of our planet—a chaos point where breakdown or breakthrough occurs. ICCD’s work has brought hundreds of people to a new understanding of how to be and act in responding to the growing injustices within our world. On this site you will find a rich library of reflections on key areas helpful to your work of transformation. I’d invite you to click on the tabs Contemplation, Impasse, Dialogue, Reflections and Readings. When you do you will find a number of short reflections under each of those areas. Those you will want to click on as well. All the reflections have a picture and some poetry to enhance your personal reflection on the topic. At the end of a reflection there is often an annotated bibliography for your use. Some of the reflection under are also in Spanish and French. You will find the Spanish and French words “Impasse” and “Dialogue” linked.  Click on each link Under the Contemplation tab you will also see Contemplate This which is the series of articles that I have written for the National Catholic Reporter’s blog: Global Sisters Report. ICCD’s initial program, Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue®  invited participants to look at impasse from the perspective of communal contemplation and dialogue and to imagine another way of being and doing. Evolving from those experiences, the focus for ICCD’s second decade is Exercising Contemplative Power (ECP). Continuing the work of the engaging impasse process we now provide opportunities, processes and reflections so as to accelerate the growth in consciousness needed for transformation through a process of communal contemplation and dialogue. Click on the Exercising Contemplative Power tab and you will find a series of reflections on justice issues from the perspective of ECP as well as a summary of the first ECP conference. We were joined by Cynthia Bourgeault for the 2013 or second ECP conference. Under this tab you will be able to download the major presentations for a very small fee. Another way in which we exercise contemplative power is the ICCD Contemplative Sitting Network. We are growing an international community of those willing to commit to sit in contemplation for 20 minutes daily between 6:00-7:30 am in whatever time zone you are in. We hope to be present in all time zones focusing our intention for personal, social and ecclesial transformation. Click on the Contemplative Sitting Network tab to read more about it and to join in! ICCD programs include Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue® and Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty. We periodically convene national gatherings to deepen our experience around our key focus. Other programs are tailored to meet the needs of groups interested in engaging impasse, the transformation of consciousness, listening and speaking from a contemplative heart and exercising contemplative power. We know the task of transformation does not happen in isolation. We hope that this web site will be a source of support, enrichment, networking, and creativity for those of us who believe deeply in communal contemplation and dialogue as a way of evolving our consciousness. We hope you like this website and if you do would you tell your friends. Would you click “Like” on FACEBOOK and ask your friends to do the same. Nancy Sylvester, IHM Founder and President Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue © 2015 Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue Reprint with permission

Engaging Impasse

Impasse might not be a familiar word for you. But see if the following questions resonate with you. As you reflect on your life on this planet do you experience a sense of powerlessness, a feeling that things have gotten so complex that you don’t have the answers anymore? Do you feel a sense of futility as you continue your work of transformation, a realization that all the ways you know for effecting change and influencing others are not enough–they are not adequate–they just aren’t working? Do you experience a low-grade anger or a grief that never leaves you?   Read More

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Behold, the Body of Christ

May 26, 2016                          Global Sisters Report                 Nancy Sylvester, IHM

Because of my ministries I have never lived near relatives or my grade school friends as their children grew up. Recently my cousin moved to Lansing, Michigan, not too far from Detroit. One of her many grandchildren was making his first Holy Communion, and I was invited to attend. I accepted, and as I drove on this beautiful Saturday morning I found myself filling up with tears.  Read More


Contemplate This

Proclaiming the Gospel
By Nancy Sylvester, IHM

I have to admit I am dismayed by what has been happening on the campaign trail. Primarily spurred by Mr. Trump, I witness the anger of my brothers and sisters who, over these past decades, feel that they have been left behind. They say that their jobs are being taken by newly arrived immigrants and their opportunities for advancement stolen by women and persons of color. They feel the moral basis of our country is undermined by legalizing same-sex marriage. They want to build walls to keep people out. They believe U.S. strength is in our capacity to bomb the enemy. Listening to much of the rhetoric, which is highly vitriolic and inflammatory, I feel as if the trajectory of evolution has stopped. I find myself judging them. And I know that is not my best response. Read More

Contemplative Sitting Network

…We are reminded of Dorothy Soelle’s words: “Contemplation sees things as God sees them and leads to an active resistance to evil.” We recognized that although we each exercise our own contemplative power, we want to grow in our capacity to exercise it together. The Contemplative Sitting Network gives us an opportunity to move more deeply into both of these realities….. Read More

villa-mariaContemplative Exploration into Evolutionary Christianity

Retreat offered by Nancy Sylvester, IHM
at the Villa Maria Center (located between Youngstown, OH and New Castle, PA)
Sunday, June 12, 2016, 7:00 PM to
Friday, June17, 2016, 12:00 PM

Click here to learn more

ShalomContemplative Exploration in Evolutionary Christianity

Retreat offered by Nancy Sylvester, IHM
at the Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, IA
Sunday, July 17, 2016, 7:00 PM to
Friday, July 22 2016, 12:00 PM

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A prayer for the dawning of Easter

In the mid-1980s I traveled to Bolivia to visit a friend who was completing a term as a Maryknoll Associate. It was still the era of travel agents, and mine booked me from New York to Florida to Panama, then on to Bolivia — first Santa Cruz and then Cochabamba, my final destination. The further south I traveled, the less I was able to communicate adequately as my Spanish was pretty shaky.

My mind however, was skipping around like a jack-rabbit. My first thought was that could not have been what Jesus meant. The second followed almost unwillingly: All the goodwill not withstanding, what good is preaching if no one is around to listen? My favorite line from Paul VI’s 1975 letter On Evangelization in the Modern World, was ringing in my ears: “What matters is to evangelize man’s cultures not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots. . . ” (20). I wondered: Was their effort, though no doubt filled with faith, naive and of itself doomed to failure? I wondered what my friend and her Maryknoll colleagues would say about this.  Read more

OnthegroundFrom Ecuador to Nigeria; Selma to Vietnam, Catholic sisters engage the world through Gospel values and make countless contributions to human development, including Nancy Sylvester, IHM’s Contemplation: A Call to All On the Ground is a compilation of 23 of the finest reports and columns published during Global Sisters Report’s first year. These stories, written by and about sisters, highlight the diversity of projects and people to which Catholic sisters have dedicated their lives. Through this lens, we learn about solutions to critical issues facing humanity.

Click here to find out more.