Meet the Core Team

Contemplative Outreach Ireland have a growing number of people committed to the practise of Centering Prayer in their daily lives, who are trained to pass on the teachings of Thomas Keating through Introductory Workshops and by facilitating retreats.

From this group of volunteers, a small number of 6-8 people comprise the Core Team of COI. They meet regularly to plan, organise and help serve retreats and workshops. They aim to provide ongoing support to individuals and prayer groups to help deepen their relationship with God through this gentle way of praying.

Niamh Brennan

Niamh was introduced to Centering Prayer in 2006, having had an established daily silent prayer practice for some years. Centering Prayer and the teachings of Thomas Keating have helped her to grow in intimacy with God and have deeply enriched every aspect of her life. Niamh has been a member of the Core Team of Contemplative Outreach Ireland for many years now. Along with her work nationally she coordinates monthly meetings and Soul Saturday gatherings with her local group in Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Niamh feels blessed to have been able to attend four ten-day Centering Prayer retreats at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado over the years and treasures the memories of time spent there in the company of Thomas Keating and Abbot Joseph Boyle.

Niamh’s background is as a primary school teacher, a secondary school chaplain and then as a healthcare chaplain. She is a trained spiritual guide/director having graduated from An Croí Wisdom Institute, Monasterboice in 2023. She is currently undertaking the post-graduate training in Cross-Professional Supervision in the Wisdom Model at An Croí.

Niamh lives in Castlebar, Co. Mayo with her husband. She is a regular hill-walker in Mayo and Connemara with her club and enjoys playing music and singing.

Fr Tom Dalton

Tom is a priest of the Diocese of Ferns. Ordained in 1994 Tom is currently Administrator of St Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy.

Tom has always felt drawn to pray in a contemplative way.  He “stumbled” into Centering Prayer through an organised Diocesan Retreat in September 1994.  It was to be a life changing experience for him.  The following year he was sent by the Diocese to Fr Thomas Keating at St Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, Colorado.  Here he was to learn more about Centering Prayer with the hope of teaching it upon his return in the Wexford area.  Shortly afterwards along with Sr Marie Dolores and a small group of others, Contemplative Outreach Ireland was born.  On his own commitment and faithfulness to the prayer practice he says; “In a busy world and ministry Centering Prayer sustains me daily.  It helps me to stay rooted in a God that loves and accepts me just as I am.  Consequently, I can love and accept others more easily.  I also know that it enables me to be more open to whatever God needs me to do.”

Tom is a trained Introductory Workshop presenter and a Centering Prayer retreat facilitator.  He was awarded a Diploma in the Ministry of Spiritual Direction from The Milltown Institute, Dublin in August 2007.  He teaches Introductory Centering Prayer Workshops and facilitates retreats at retreat centres around Ireland.

Eileen Foley

For the past 16 years Eileen has been drawn to Centering Prayer as her way of prayer. Over the years, praying in this way has had a huge impact on her life, both in her own prayer life, deepening her relationship with God, and extending out into the work she is involved with in daily life.

Eileen has participated in a number of Centering Prayer retreats with Contemplative Outreach Ireland. Both as a retreatant and as a Retreat Facilitator. In 2014 she completed the Vincentian Formation Programme for Spiritual Direction out of The Vincentian Spirituality Centre, Denver, Colorado.She has also had the privilege of attending a number of 10 day Post Intensive Retreats in St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, Colorado.

Eileen is a member of The Core Team and current Coordinator  of Contemplative Outreach Ireland. Eileen lives with her husband in Dublin. They have 3 children, all now embracing their lives with great energy.

John and Kathleen Ormond

John and Kathleen Ormond are a married couple from Wexford. They are parents and grandparents, with four adult children, all now happily living their own lives.

They were first introduced to Centering Prayer in the late 1990s by Sr Marie Dolores in St Aidan’s Monastery in Ferns, Co Wexford. Sr M. Dolores was very committed to Centering Prayer and it was in Ferns that they first met Fr Thomas Keating when he visited Ireland in 2000. This meeting had a profound effect on both of them. He radiated unconditional love and Kathleen remarked that this is how God created all of us to be.

At this stage John was recovering from intensive cancer treatment and both of Kathleen’s parents had recently died of cancer. Looking back, they both believe that this time of pain and uncertainty was a great blessing, although it didn’t seem so at the time. As they developed a regular Centering Prayer practice, supported by Sr M. Dolores and a small group in Ferns they came to believe that God is lovingly leading us at every moment of our lives, even when things appear very difficult.

They helped serve the first retreats in Ferns and later throughout the country as the demand for Centering Prayers retreats grew. For their 30th wedding anniversary in 2009 they travelled to Snowmass to do a Post Intensive Retreat and they have returned there to do the Post Intensive Retreat on two more occasions. They have been involved with Contemplative Outreach Ireland since it was formed to foster and support the practise of Centering Prayer in Ireland, and they are members of the Core Team. Kathleen served as coordinator of C.O.I. for four years.

Alan Lorimer

Alan is a Methodist minister and Counselling Psychologist who was born and bred in Ballymena, Co Antrim. Alan considered himself a Protestant atheist and then a hedonistic agnostic in his teens and twenties until a number of personal crisis led him to Christian conversion and a commitment to following Jesus Christ.  Alan was greatly influenced by the Charismatic/evangelical traditions but found himself looking for something more in the early 1990’s . He came upon the Jesus Prayer and the Orthodox contemplative tradition and this became part of his devotional life. On returning to study Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT), he was introduced to Mindfulness-Based CBT, which was shown to help people with long term depression. Alan trained in Mindfulness- Based CBT while researching it from a Christian perspective as part of a PhD in Pastoral theology. This research led him to explore contemplative spirituality in Christianity and to the discovery of Centering Prayer through the work of Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating and Cynthia Bourgeault.

Alan completed the Servant Leadership programme in Jan 2012 and is a member of the Core Team of Contemplative Outreach Ireland.

Michele Berry

Michele lives in Greyabbey with her husband Chris. They have four children who have created their own families, resulting in 5 beautiful and amazing grand-daughters and 1 very special grandson. Michele retired from and wound up her consultancy business in August 2021. She had provided services in the areas of Psychodynamic and Transformational Coaching, Mentoring, Transformative Mediation, Facilitation, Training, Supervision and Human Resource specialisms across all sectors in Northern Ireland, ROI and the UK.

Approximately sixteen years ago, through a situation of personal and faith transition and transformation when as CS Lewis describes her “internal and external house of cards collapsed”, Michele was seeking how to “BE still and KNOW that He is God.” (Psalm 46 v. 10) and to be in contemplative prayer. Through exploring a number of avenues, she was eventually introduced to Centering Prayer. Attending an Introductory Workshop was the moment when Michele found the way to stillness and knowing God moment by moment, day by day, and in particular of letting go and letting God be God. This way of praying has transformed Michele’s relationship with God and others. As Fr. Thomas Keating suggests a daily commitment to centering prayer practice has resulted in various forms of divine therapy and production of His fruits in Michele’s daily life.

Michele has participated in a number of Centering Prayer Retreats with Contemplative Outreach Ireland. In October 2017 Michele completed her Servant Leadership Training and joined the Core Team of Contemplative Outreach Ireland in September 2018. She delivers Centering Prayer Introductory Workshops in Northern Ireland, is a Retreat Facilitator and facilitates a Centering Prayer Groups in Greyabbey, Northern Ireland. She has served in the ministry of Spiritual Direction since 2017, completing the Ignatian Diploma in Spiritual Direction at the Manresa Jesuit Centre of Spirituality, Dublin.

Siobhan Semple

Siobhán lives in Dublin, is married to Bob and has 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren. Her spiritual search began in earnest in 1994 with the death of her mother. She had always greatly admired her mom’s quiet, but strong, faith. What really struck her was how willingly she let go, with such ease, in her final illness, at a relatively young age. Siobhán decided she wanted to know and experience this God who had been her mother’s companion through life and in whom she had complete trust.

“In order to get to know God I realised I’d need to look at my prayer life. Initially I attended a prayer course with Fr Paddy Cusack S.J. on Ignatian Contemplation. He also introduced me to a form of silent prayer in the late 1990’s, but without a regular group practice this form of prayer did not get grounded in me.”

In 2008 Siobhán went to her 1st Centering Prayer group and was delighted to realise that this was the same method of prayer that she had experienced years earlier and had been yearning for ever since. “Over the years Centering Prayer has become my rock and my main sail. I am slowly coming to know the Divine within and to realise that I am accepted and loved exactly as I am. My life is very slowly being turned around by a God who knows me inside out- my insecurities, my self-doubts, and my resistance to change”.

Siobhán has attended many Centering Prayer retreats and facilitated on occasion. She completed her servant leadership in 2013 and has given Centering Prayer workshops. She joined the core team in 2022.