Last year, Father Richard Rohr officially stepped back from active duties at the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC), retiring as both Dean of our Core Faculty and as a voting member of the CAC’s Board of Directors.
While preparing for Fr. Richard’s transition, part of what we recognized is that no individual could be the “successor” for the role of our founder. Simply put, there is no single person who could fill those particular shoes in our lives and organization. Instead, what we saw is that it’s going to take something from all of us — the community, our staff and board, and especially our faculty — to carry Fr. Richard’s vision and message forward into the future.
Our contemplative tradition holds space for the unique role of prophetic teachers, and I believe that for the CAC to stay true to our mission, we must continue to affirm Richard’s message and vision in our organizational life. Though the CAC’s programs serve as a gateway to the contemplative path, it’s our faculty who provide a direct connection to a living tradition. That is why as part of this transition process we are focused on growing not only the scale of CAC’s faculty partnerships but also their role in our organizational life in three concrete ways.
First, we are making it a top priority to significantly expand and diversify the teachers we partner with. Our incredible Core Faculty is comprised of individuals who have devoted their lives to the contemplative path with faithfulness. Each carry a valuable reflection and articulation of Fr. Richard’s core message — in their words as well as their lives, and they are all uniquely equipped to serve as elders, teachers, and spiritual leaders. A more expansive and diverse faculty will build on Fr. Richard’s founding vision of the CAC as a “school for prophets,” helping to bring his message forward for both our current community and future generations.
Second, we have invited our faculty to become partners for the whole CAC, rather than just our Living School or other programs. As Fr. Richard Rohr steps aside, CAC’s Core Faculty are playing an increasingly important role ensuring that all our programs, teachings, and ongoing faculty development continue to serve the vision and message of our founder, his values and theological lineage, and his commitment to fostering a Christian contemplative path and practice that serves the healing and transformation of our world.
Finally, we are expanding the role of Dean of our Core Faculty in a manner that honors both the independence of our teachers and their integration into our organizational life and decision-making processes. Accordingly, the Dean role now includes overseeing the continued expansion of our faculty and working with CAC Staff and Faculty on the development of our contemplative learning strategy and the Living School program curriculum. Additionally, the faculty nominate their own Dean, who is approved directly by our Board of Directors.
In the next few years, we have the opportunity to expand and diversify our faculty and to honor Richard’s legacy in profound ways. Most of all, we want to emulate Richard’s example, caring about what he has cared about for all these years: integrating contemplation and action, rooted in Christ, for the good of our beloved, fragile, fractured world.Brian McLaren
I am thrilled to share that Brian McLaren was nominated by the faculty last year and unanimously approved by our Board of Directors as our new Dean of the Core Faculty earlier this year! Brian’s presence and leadership have already had a significant impact as we begin working within our new structure. Brian was a college English teacher before becoming the founding pastor of an ecumenical congregation in the Washington DC area in the 1980’s (crcc.org), where he served for 24 years. During that time, he began writing books such as A New Kind of Christianity and A Generous Orthodoxy and was a leader in the Emerging Church conversation. He and Richard met about twenty-five years ago and realized they had been walking on parallel paths. “There are few people I know who bring such learned wisdom, tried faith, and pastoral hope to the present world and church situation than Brian McLaren,” Richard says. After Brian was invited to speak at several CAC events, he was invited to join the Core Faculty in 2019.
“It has been one of the great joys of my life to work alongside Richard Rohr, Jim Finley, Dr. Barbara Holmes, and Cynthia Bourgeault these last few years, and I have come to deeply love our amazing, creative, and dedicated colleagues on the CAC staff,” Brian says. “In the next few years, we have the opportunity to expand and diversify our faculty and to honor Richard’s legacy in profound ways. Most of all, we want to emulate Richard’s example, caring about what he has cared about for all these years: integrating contemplation and action, rooted in Christ, for the good of our beloved, fragile, fractured world.”
I look forward to sharing more with our community in the coming weeks about all the great work our Core Faculty and staff are doing to affirm Richard’s vision and message in the new Living School.
Peace and every good,
Center for Action and Contemplation
Watch Richard and Michael reflecting together on our faculty and their role carrying Richard Rohr’s vision and message forward into the future (video).
The Center for Action and Contemplation, its Core Faculty, and Board of Directors invite you to accompany us on this journey of transformation as we do the challenging work of reclaiming our founder’s vision for action and contemplation in a time of global change and contemplative renewal.
Returning to the Center will be an opportunity to reflect together with our community on our discoveries and growing pains as an institution on the path of praxis and prayer, action and contemplation. You can expect regular updates on our progress in this work as well as institutional history, community stories, staff essays, videos, and even opportunities to contribute. You will find the latest posts on our website as well as social media and in the News from New Mexico, the CAC’s monthly newsletter. We welcome your feedback!