Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Spiritual Groups & Retreats

Experiences, resources, and encouragement for those called to create and lead contemplative spiritual groups and retreats for personal and social transformation

September 2024 – July 2025

Do you feel a nudge to create and lead contemplative spiritual groups and retreats?

Program runs September 1, 2024 – July 31, 2025

Early Bird Deadline: May 15, 2024
Extended Deadline: July 1, 2024

Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Spiritual Groups & Retreats is designed to equip, encourage, and support those called to create and lead contemplative spiritual groups and retreats. Through experiential learning, seminars, reflection, and a sacred learning community, participants will expand their contemplative awareness of the Mystery of the One some name God and grow in their contemplative leadership.

Free Info Sessions

Join us on Zoom to discern about the rightness of this program for you. Talk with the Director and recent grads. Register in advance by clicking on a date below.

Transforming Community Timeline

We are excited to introduce a new format for the Class of 2025 that includes one in-person residency teamed with class and peer group online sessions. This format is more accessible for those with life schedules that make it challenging to take time away from home. The overall cost of the program has also been reduced due to the elimination of a second in-person residency and travel expenses. Please read on for more information!

At-Home Work: September 2024 – July 2025
Online Class Opening Session: Saturday, September 14, 2024, from 11AM-4PM ET
Online Class Session: Saturday, October 19, 2024, from 11AM-4PM ET
In-Person Residency: Monday, November 4 – Monday, November 11, 2024
Online Class Session: Saturday, January 18, 2025, from 11AM-5:30PM ET
Online Class Session: Saturday, March 22, 2025, from 11AM-5:30PM ET
Online Class Session: Saturday, May 17, 2025, from 11AM-5:30PM ET
2 Hour Monthly Online Peer Group Gatherings: January, February, March, April, and May, 2025 (Dates & Times to be determined by Peer Group)

Program Components

Transforming Community provides spiritual deepening and leadership preparation through online class and peer group sessions, at-home work, and an eight-day residency at a retreat & conference center in the Baltimore/Washington area.

At-Home and Online Components:

  • Reading and engagement with selected texts and resources
  • Participation in online Class and Peer Group sessions
  • Creation and facilitation of a six-week contemplative spiritual group with a short opening retreat in one’s home community
  • Participation in a two-night organized silent retreat of the associate’s choice
  • Preparation of two spiritual practice sessions to be led with one’s Peer Group at the residency and at an online Peer Group session
  • Four short reflection papers responding to specific program components
  • A final integrative paper focused on the design of a contemplative spiritual group or retreat
  • A personal spiritual practice, as well as regular meetings with a Spiritual Director/Guide/Companion.

Residency Components:

Residencies enjoy a daily rhythm of prayer, practice, learning, reflection, rest and renewal, including:

  • Topical Seminars
  • Grounding in a variety of spiritual practices
  • Opportunities for reflection and sharing
  • A guided silent retreat
  • Leadership in a small group setting

Seminar Themes and Practices:

  • Grounding and Intention of Contemplative Spiritual Practices
  • Radical Presence and Identity
  • Contemplative Leadership
  • Creating and Facilitating Contemplative Groups and Retreats
  • Contemplation and Sacred Activism
  • Unity in Diversity
  • Discernment in Leadership
  • Dynamics and Challenges in Groups
  • Sound & Silence
  • Embodiment
  • Creativity
  • Sacred Text
  • External Images
  • Interfaith Practices

Certificate of Completion is awarded upon completion of all program requirements.


The residency will be held at Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center in Marriottsville, MD. You will have a private room with bathroom. Some meals will be included at each residency: dinner on the first day; breakfast and lunch on the last day; and breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the days in-between. The center and grounds have walking paths through woods and fields, in-season swimming pool, and a fitness center.

Bon Secours bridge

“Honestly TCP [Transforming Community Program] changed my life and breathed much needed vitality, creativity, and equanimity into me, a weary mental health provider. I wasn’t exactly clear why God guided me to this particular program but I knew I felt a deep longing to help support the healing of our wounded world in a way that seemed larger than just working one-on-one with clients in my psychology practice. TCP gave me the tools to teach others to access and listen to the transforming and deeply healing voice of God. Through engaging seminars, small group practice, monthly book reading and discussions, modeling by leaders, and collaboration with others I felt like my understanding of contemplative practices and leadership expanded greatly and I became well equipped to guide others into practices of connecting with the Presence. I’m now incorporating my passions for nature, creativity, deep healing, and connection and leading retreats at a local retreat space as well as weekly contemplative prayer groups. This work is life-giving for me and I’m so thankful I trusted that quiet voice that nudged me to start!”

-Laura Kirby, Class of 2023



  • Early Bird price (by May 15, 2024): $4,500
  • Regular price (after May 15, 2024): $5,000

Need-based tuition assistance is available. For more information, contact Katy at



Katy Gaughan is the Registrar for Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Spiritual Groups & Retreats and can be contacted at


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.