The John Main Seminar has been an annual event since 1984. It was established to honour John Main’s memory and his legacy. As the WCCM’s Constitution states: One of the goals of the Community is: “to organize events such as the annual John Main Seminar to broaden and deepen the teaching of Christian meditation …”
The first seven Seminars were held at the former Benedictine Priory of Montreal and were relatively small-scale events. The presenters were all prominent members of the Community, including Sanskrit scholar Isabelle Glover, Professors Robert Kiely, Derek Smith and Charles Taylor, publisher John Todd, Palliative Care pioneer Dr. Balfour Mount and Sr. Eileen O’Hea.
The 1991 Seminar was a transformative event in many ways. It was held in New Harmony, Indiana. The 150+ participants were truly representative of the growing worldwide Community. The presenter was Dom Bede Griffiths, OSB Cam, also known as Swami Dayananda, on the theme of The New Creation in Christ. Immediately following the Seminar the leadership of the Community entered into a three-day discernment process out of which the Community’s organizational and structural parameters were established as they exist today. A follow-up Seminar on the teaching and legacy of Fr. Bede was held in 1993 with a panel of three speakers.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was the speaker at the 1994 Seminar on the theme of The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teaching of Jesus. The resulting book, by the same title, of his talks and the dialogue sessions between his talks became an international bestseller and was translated into many languages. His Holiness also headlined the roster of speakers for the millennium Seminar held in Befast, Northern Ireland. That event and the multiple events around it involved well-over 3000 participants making it the biggest organizational effort of the Community to date.
Other Seminar presenters include: Jean Vanier, Fr. William Johnston, S.J., Dom Laurence Freeman, OSB, Fr. Raimon Panikkar, former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, Abbott Thomas Keating, Prof Huston Smith, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowen Williams, Bishop Kallistos Ware,
Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, composer and singer Margaret Rizza, Fr. Robert Kennedy, SJ, Fr. James Alison, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, Philosopher and Theologian Leonardo Boff & Frei Betto, OFM, Fr. Joseph Wong, OSB Cam, Fr. Daniel Madigan, SJ, and Professor David Tacey.
Still Present: The Life and Legacy of John Main was the theme of the 2007 Seminar to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of his transitus. It featured a panel of speakers headed by Fr. Laurence. Cardinal Walter Kaspar was the keynote speaker at the 2008 Seminar on the theme Unity: Local and Global.
The Seminar follows a set format whereby the talks are framed in between four periods of meditation per day and appropriate liturgical celebrations. The WCCM’s Annual General Meeting is an integral part of this annual event. A three-day silent retreat led by Fr. Laurence precedes or follows the Seminar.
|2015||David Tacey||Spirituality and Religion in a Secular Age||Hamilton, New Zealand|
|2014||Daniel Madigan SJ||Muslims and Christians - listeners to the Word||Chicago, USA|
|2013||Joseph Wong OSB Cam||Desert Wisdom & Oriental Spirituality: Inner Silence||Hong Kong|
|2012||Leonardo Boff & Frei Betto||Spirituality and Environment||São Paulo, Brazil|
|2011||Timothy Radcliffe OP||Alive in Christ||Cork, Ireland|
|2010||James Alison||The Shape of God’s Affection||Canterbury, UK|
|2009||Robert Kennedy SJ||When God Disappears||London, UK|
|2008||Cardinal Walter Kasper||Unity: Local and Global||Mainz, Germany|
|2007|| Laurence Freeman, Balfour Mount, Sarah
Bachelard, Peter Ng and Yvon Théroux
|The Life and Legacy of John Main||Quebec, Canada|
|2006||Margaret Rizza||The Fire of Silence Through Music and Mystics||Penang, Malaysia|
|2005||Richard Rohr OFM||A Lever and a Place to Stand||Thousand Oaks, USA|
|2004||Joan Chittister OSB||Heart of Flesh: A Feminist
Spirituality for Women and Men
|2003||Andrew Harvey, Shirley Du Boulay,
Bruno Barnhardt OSB Cam
|Panel on Bede Griffiths||Reading, UK|
|2002||Bishop Kallistos Ware||The Kingdom of the Heart:
The Jesus Prayer in our Daliy Life
|2001||Archbishop Rowan Williams||Spirit in the Desert||Sydney, Australia|
|2000||The Dalai Lama & Previous Presenters||The Way of Peace||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|1999||Huston Smith||Return to the Light|
|1998||Thomas Keating||Heart of the World||San Francisco, USA|
|1997||Mary McAleese||Reconciled Being||Dublin, Ireland|
|1996||Raimon Panikkar||The Silence of Life||London, UK|
|1995||Laurence Freeman OSB||On Jesus||San Diego, USA|
|1994||The Dalai Lama||The Good Heart||London, UK|
|1993||William Johnston||The New Christian Mysticism||Toronto, Canada|
|1992||Jean Vanier||From Brokenness to Wholeness||London, UK|
|1991||Bede Griffiths||Christian Meditation: An Evolving Tradition||New Harmony, USA|
|1990||Eileen O'Hea||Spirit and Psyche|
|1989||Balfour Mount||On Wholeness|
|1988||Charles Taylor||Christian Identity and Modernity|
|1987||Derek Smith||On Reading|
|1986||John Todd||The New Church|
|1985||Robert Kiely||The Search for God in Modern Literature|
|1984||Isabelle Glover||Indian Scriptures as Christian Reading|