Earth Monastery Mentoring Project & Peer Support (New Program)

In April 2020 Christine Valters Paintner’s book Earth, Our Original Monastery is being published by Ave Maria Press. The book explores concepts like earth as the original cathedral, scripture, saints, spiritual directors, liturgy, icon, and sacrament through wisdom of the Christian mystics and the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Like most of Christine’s books there is a rich array of experiential exercises (both contemplative and creative) included in each chapter that lends itself well to a retreat experience.

We have a companion album of songs being released shortly as well and we are in the process of creating a cycle of morning and evening prayers rooted in these materials with songs, dances, poetry, and visual inspiration. The climate crisis is the most important issue of our time and we would love to offer contemplative and creative resources to help cultivate greater intimacy with the more-than-human world.

An Invitation to Retreat Leaders, Spiritual Directors, Pastors, Adult Religious Educators, & Small Group Facilitators

Christine is looking for folks interested in leading a series of seven (7) retreat days between October 2020 (Feast of St Francis) and April 2021 (Earth Day) on this material locally with your own churches, communities, congregations, and retreat spaces. You would also have some flexibility in adapting the format to your needs both in terms of content and amount of time for each retreat, but Christine’s support will be built around this monthly structure.

What we are imagining:

Each monthly retreat or small group gathering would focus on one of the chapters from Christine’s book (Earth as Original Cathedral, Scripture, Saints, Spiritual Directors, Icons, Sacraments, and Liturgy).  You would be responsible for locating your site and doing your marketing, although we can compile a geographic list of all the programs taking place to our website.

Christine would offer you (the program leaders) 7 monthly live webinars (recorded for those unable to join live) where she would give an overview for that month’s theme and retreat, provide a suggested outline and sequence, and answer any questions you have. We would also have a private discussion forum where the webinars take place, the recordings are available for viewing, and where you would be able to post and share with one another. We are imagining that the peer support you offer to one another will also be a valuable part of this experience.

At the moment we are looking at scheduling the monthly webinars on Mondays at 4 p.m. Ireland time (11 am Eastern time) with the first on October 5th. These will be recorded. It is not required that you attend live, although would be great if many of you are able.

Requirements and Fees

  • Apply now by sending Christine an email indicating your interest, your background in ministry, and where you see yourself leading this series of programs.
  • Commit to joining the mentoring group by July 1, 2020.
  • Once you commit, you register for the 7-week online companion retreat to the book we are offering for the general Abbey of the Arts community in July-August of this summer. All materials there will be available to you forever. Cost will be approximately $150. Partial scholarships are available if cost is a hindrance. Registration will open soon.
  • Everyone in the group you are leading that attends the series of retreats be asked to purchase their own copy of Christine’s book (rather than photocopying pages as handouts). Depending on the group size, you may be able to arrange a bulk discount for multiple copies directly with Ave Maria Press.
  • You are welcome to charge for your program. If you do then we would ask that you give back 10% of your total program fee each month to Abbey of the Arts to help support Christine’s time and this work. This will be on the honor system.
  • If you are not charging for participation in your program, then we suggest a $100 donation to Abbey of the Arts to help support costs for this mentoring program. (This is in addition to the cost to register for the online companion retreat above). If you are unable to pay the suggested fee then we can negotiate whatever works for your financial situation. We do want to make this accessible to everyone who is interested in participating.
  • Complete a one-page evaluation midway and at the end of the program to see how things went, how participants engaged, etc. to give us feedback on how the process is going.

Because this is an experiment we may shift how things work as we go along if there seems to be a better way to support all of you. We are excited about the possibility of this mentoring model as a way to bring our resources to more people.

You might also enjoy