About us

Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii is the Hawaii chapter of Contemplative Outreach, in Butler New Jersey. 

Contemplative Outreach is a spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel.  The common desire for Divine transformation, primarily expressed through a commitment to a daily Centering Prayer practice, unites our interdenominational community.


Be Sill and know that I am God.
Pslam 46:10

The intent of Contemplative Outreach is
to foster the process
of transformation in Christ in one another
through the practice of Centering Prayer.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your strength, and with all your mind;
and your  neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27

 (an excerpt from the 2012 Annual Fund Appeal Letter)

Because of the donations of supporters like you and the generosity of volunteers who give their time and talent freely, COHI was and is able to provide the following services in 2012.

·         Introductions to Centering Prayer on Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.

·         Mornings of Prayer on Oahu and Kauai.

·         Retreats on Oahu & Kauai - Weekend, 8-Day & 5-Day.

·         5-Day Training for Kauai, Maui, Hawaii & Oahu volunteers in November.

·         United in Prayer Day on Maui and Oahu.

·         Lectio Divina Workshops on Maui and Oahu.

·         Retreat scholarships provided for several people otherwise unable to attend retreats.  They expressed how blessed they were by the experience.

·         Two Centering Prayer group enrichment programs on Oahu.

·         On-going support for over 20 prayer groups on Kauai, Maui & Oahu.

·         Two newsletters, twelve e-News Bulletins, a web-site and Facebook page.

·         Training and resources to local volunteers and groups.

·         Books, DVDs and CDs on the spiritual journey for sale and loan.

·         Representation from Hawaii at the annual conference.

We hope that you participated in some of these events and that they support you in your Centering Prayer practice.


Contemplative Outreach History

History of  the Hawaii Chapter of Contemplative Outreach

Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii (COHI) is a chapter of CO Ltd and was started in 1996 by the late Maryknoll Sister Katherine Theiler (1919-2006) who began teaching silent prayer in the islands as early as 1987.  She led the first Centering Prayer retreat for 25 people on Oahu in 1993.  In the early years support was given to the Hawaii Chapter by CO Ltd for chapter growth and development which included formation of the chapter coordinator, commissioning presenters of the method of Centering Prayer, developing the chapter vision, establishing service teams and a leadership team.

Today COHI has a membership of 500 individuals. There are twenty active groups in Hawaii meeting at various churches and homes on Oahu and over the last couple of years, starting up on Kauai, Maui and on Hawaii Island in the last few months.

In Memoriam: Sister Katherine Theiler, M.M.

(Founder of the Hawaii Chapter)

On July 24th 2006, our beloved Sister Katherine died. In the early 1980s Sister Katherine brought Centering Prayer to Hawaii and in 1996 she started Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii. We are grateful for the gift of the Contemplative Community on Oahu that she created. We cannot imagine it without her.

Sister Katherine’s Corner will be an ongoing column in our newsletter where we can share our stories. In the following piece Sister Joan Chatfield, a long time very close friend and fellow Maryknoll Sister, reflects on Sister Katherine’s last days. We are collecting stories of how Sister Katherine has changed lives. We would love to hear your story; please submit it to us.

An Amplifier of the Work Within Souls

Sister Joan Chatfield, MM, from the Spring 2008 Newsletter

All of a sudden the time for the article about Sr. Katherine has come up on the calendar and I am reminded of one of her common phrases, “Time moves more quickly when we don’t pay attention to it.”

Katherine was a good ‘sleeper,' but never fretted when she would have an occasional night of wakefulness. During that time she often reflected on what a gift God had given her to be an amplifier of the work within souls. She never lost her awe of God’s action and presence, even when she could no longer do as much as she had done in earlier years. Never having been blessed with a strong memory, Katherine made very cryptic notes (if necessary) on index cards if she needed to remember something critical, but otherwise her notes were what Fr. Bill Shannon called “bon mots,” ‘good words’…most often reflective of her gratitude. Katherine never lost the awareness that all that she was as a director was done by this good and great God.

When she had that brief respite of health for the eighteen months before her relocation at St. Francis Hospice she often felt that the “pause on the way to Heaven” was directly connected with Morris Pang. He had been such a good friend, her chauffer, and she was his confidante. She knew him well. When his sudden death shattered or confused some in the Contemplative Outreach/Centering Prayer community, Katherine knew that if she were as sick as she had been, there would not have been the energy to reflect on God’s action, compassion and love for all of us, most especially Morris, as she talked with those who needed that solace. Those conversations were very important to her. It was almost as if she knew that her words would bring a certain comfort beyond the faith that all have in God’s action among us. She would say, “God gave me the time that was needed.”

Time was a friend for Katherine, so when others in our Maryknoll family died and we told her, her words from her bed in hospice were not fretful. “I guess I am on the bottom of the list,” she mused, and during those four months she had to reflect on that mystery six times! But her inner peace was not disturbed. “It is all the same, here or there, I know where I am going and it is all in God’s time.”

Just as her ministry with her reflection on Morris’ death helped those she knew already, her “new friends” on the staff at St. Francis knew Katherine was special, and often she reflected on how devoted they were. They were always amazed that she kept their names straight, not a common occurrence in that facility. Several of the staff, after her death, mentioned that Katherine had shared some insight, some gentle word of comfort to them, most appropriate because of its timely focus. They were amazed at “this quiet woman who was so at peace,” and who was such a help in their very important ministry to those preparing for the most important journey.

Her 167 days in the Nuuanu hospice were a blessing to many. It was a “matter of time” but in God’s plan not ours!

Milestones in the History of Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii
1984 - Sister Katherine Theiler introduced Centering Prayer to a prayer group meeting regularly on Monday evenings at the Spiritual Life Center, located at Marianne Hall on the St Francis High School Campus.     She showed the early Thomas Keating's videos, and taught the group about the Centering Prayer method.    This group formed the first prayer group for Centering Prayer in Hawaii.
July 1989 - Hawaii First Appeared in Contemplative Outreach Ltd., Newsletter listing Sister Katherine Theiler and the Spiritual LIfe Center as the contact.

September 1990 an Introduction to Centering Prayer sponsored by Sister Katherine Theiler and the Spiritual Life Center, given by Father Thomas Keating, more than 200 people attended from various Christian churches.  Since then there have been yearly classes on the Spiritual Journey using the video tapes by Thomas Keating; weekend and week long Centering Prayer retreats; workshops, facilitator meetings and renewal days.  There are nine Centering Prayer Group on Oahu and an Introduction to Centering Prayer was provided on Maui and the Maui group is watching the Spiritual Journey video tapes.  See the Fall 1992 issue of the Contemplative Outreach Newsletter for the full update.

June 29, 1993 - 10 Day Intensive Retreat with Fr. Carl Arico and Sister Katherine Theiler

Summer 1995 - Sister Katherine reported in the Contemplative Outreach LTD Newsletter that there are 12 prayer groups on Oahu and 2 in the Kona area of the Big Island.  Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii is sponsored by the Spiritual Life Center which is now located in St. Stephen Diocesan Center.  Upcoming events at that time included A Taste of Silence; A contemplative retreat; House of Prayer retreat; Ten Day Post-Intensive Retreat with Fr. Carl Arico; What Does it Mean to Love, Forgiveness and Peace Making.  See the Summer 1995 Contemplative Outreach Newsletter for the full Update.

August 5 -12, 1996 - Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, held at St. Anthony's Retreat Center in Honolulu.  Gail also presented an Open Mind, Open Heart Workshop (known as the Welcoming Prayer today).  At this time Sister Katherine reported 11 Centering Prayer groups on Oahu and 1 on the Big Island.  She reported volunteers bringing Centering Prayer to women in Prison and men in the Salvation Army treatment center. and ministering to patients at the hospital for emotionally disabled persons.  See the full update in the Summer 1997 Contemplative Outreach Newsletter.

July 2 - 8, 1998 - Retreat with Fr. William Meninger

January 6-10, 2000 -  Intensive Centering Prayer Retreat with Fr. Thomas Keating & Sister Katherine at St. Anthony's Retreat Center

2001 - Susan Thornett & Cathie Jordan, Co-coordinators of Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii

January 2001 - 3-Day Facilitator Formation Retreat with Bonnie Shimizu

2001 - Starting Mornings of Centering Prayer at Wesley United Methodist Church (3rd Saturday of even numbered months)

December 12 - 16, 2002 - Fruits of the Spirit retreat with Fr. William Meninger

March 29 & 30, 2003 - Susan Komis Facilitated a Visioning Weekend

April 2003 - Mornings of Centering Prayer location moved to Central Union Church to accommodate more people

July 14 - 23, 2003
- 10 Day Intensive Retreat with Fr. Carl Arico

2004 - Cathie Jordan, Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii

2006 - Carol Alevizos becomes assistant coordinator

February 2006 - Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Tim Koock

November 2006 - 20th Anniversary Tour with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, Fr. Carl Arico and Marie Howard

2007 - Carol Alevizos, Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii

September 2007 - Introduction to Centering Prayer on Kauai hosted by Liedeke Bulder at Lihue Lutheran Church

June 2008 - Jean Sherman provided presenters training on teaching Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina and other contemplative practice to youth and young adults

2010 - Marianist Brother Jim Vorndran starts Centering Prayer Groups on Maui

November 2010 - Welcoming Prayer Workshop with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler on Kauai

November 14 - 17, 2010 - Welcoming Prayer Immersion Retreat with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler in Honolulu

2011 Liedeke Bulder becomes contact person for Kauai and Jim Vorndran becomes contact person for Maui

2011 Jean Benfer becomes assistant coordinator

March 21 - 24, 2011 - Centering Prayer Retreat with Fr. Richard Rohr as guest speaker

May 2011 - Hawaii group goes to Snowmass, Colorado  for a retreat

2012 Jean Benfer, Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of Hawaii

November 2012 - Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service with Jean Benfer, Carol Alevizos & Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler via Skype.
April 30 - May 1, 2013 - Enrichment Day with Susan Komis on  Five Common Obstacles to Centering Prayer, Stages of Prayer as related to Faith Development, The Human Condition / Divine Therapy.
May 18, 2013 - Introduction to Centering Prayer in Kona, Hawaii, taught by Jean Benfer, hosted by Farley Jones, held in Kona Unity Church

2016 - Mornings of  Centering Prayer are held every month instead of every-other-month

November 27 - 30, 2017 - Julie Saad from Contemplative Outreach of Denver facilitated a Lectio Divina Retreat: Peter the Imperfect Apostle

December 2, 2017 - Julie Saad facilitated a Forgiveness Prayer Workshop and Wesley United Methodist Church

2018 - Meredith Kimitsuka, Assistant Coordinator

July 5 - 7, 2018 - Chapter Conference which included a day with the coordinating team at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Kailua, a movie night at the Mid-Pacific Country Club where we watch Rising Tide of Silence and a Chapter Enrichment presentation and activities for supporting one another in the practice of Centering Prayer at Wesley United Methodist Church in Kahala.

November 15 - 18, 2018  - Presenter formation at St. Anthony's Retreat Center

2019 - Meredith Kimitsuka became Coordinator