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In Memoriam - Rev. Thomas Keating

Rev. Thomas Keating
March 7, 1923 – October 25, 2018

The Rev. Thomas Keating was a Trappist monk and a pioneer in the worldwide Christian contemplative prayer movement. He played a major role in popularizing what is now known as centering prayer, a method of silent prayer that allows one to rest in the presence of God. Over
the years, his thoughts crystallized into what friends said became one of his favorite sayings: “Silence is God’s first language. Everything else is a poor translation.”

Father Keating was born into affluence and privilege in Manhattan, but walked away from it all when he entered an austere monastic community in Rhode Island. In 1961 he was elected abbot at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, and he served in that capacity for
the next two decades.

In 1971, after the Second Vatican Council at which Pope Paul VI encouraged priests and religious scholars to renew the Christian contemplative tradition, Father Keating was invited to Rome. This led him, along with William Meninger and Basil Pennington, to develop the practice of centering prayer.

After leaving his position as abbot he began organizing conferences with representatives of other religions, including imams, rabbis, and the Dalai Lama. During this period he focused more on centering prayer, holding workshops and retreats to promote it to clergy and lay people. In 1984 he helped found Contemplative Outreach, a network of people who practice centering prayer, and was its president from 1985 to 1999.

Father Keating had been in declining health for several years. He was 95.