COVID-19 and Contemplative Outreach


Contemplative Outreach of Central Missouri, often known as COCEMO, is an organization that began activities seven years ago within the Diocese of Jefferson City.

Its purpose is to promote contemplative prayer practices. COCEMO does this through retreats, days of recollection and guidance in the method of Centering Prayer, also known as the prayer of silence or the prayer of consent, prayer without words.

COCEMO was started by Father Matthew Flatley, now pastor of Holy Family Parish in Hannibal and St. Joseph Parish in Palmyra. Fr. Flatley was aided by a small group of lay leaders.

Prior to the formation of COCEMO, Precious Blood Sister Joanne Rataj, now deceased, was involved in encouraging and supporting Centering Prayer groups in central Missouri.

During the past 10 months, COCEMO leadership has cancelled a Silent Saturday and two retreats and has not presented an in-person Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop because of concerns about COVID-19 and risks associated with indoor gatherings.

COCEMO is anticipating and planning for times when in-person gatherings are again safe.

In the meantime, the organization and its members are using available technology to keep prayer groups in regular contact.

The organization has presented a Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop via Zoom video and audio conferencing.

The prayer group at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Columbia has resumed its monthly meetings via Zoom.

The monthly prayer group at Broadway Community Christian Church in Columbia has been meeting via Zoom.

With the cooperation and encouragement of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Ozark, COCEMO used Zoom to present the four-part Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop on consecutive Thursdays in September.

What is Centering Prayer?

Centering Prayer is a contemporary form of prayer based on practices of very early Christians from the desert communities and the monastic and scholastic periods.

It does not replace other forms of prayer; rather it casts new light and meaning on them.

Centering prayer is designed to lead to a renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It is based on the format Jesus suggested in Matthew 6:6: “... When you pray, enter your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.”

In Centering Prayer, a person consents to God’s activity within them. Centering Prayer helps the person become more aware and welcoming of the Divine Indwelling.

Regular practice of Centering Prayer can result in a person becoming less anxious and angry, calmer, more patient and accepting of issues and worries of daily life.

Getting connected

Centering Prayer Introductory Workshops via Zoom are available through COCEMO.

The workshops can be presented to churches, other groups and individuals. On-line via Zoom, the workshop can be presented in a single session lasting about three hours, or in two or three separate sessions.

For individuals expressing interest, COCEMO can gather them into a virtual group based on availability and scheduling needs.

COCEMO is also planning a daylong retreat via Zoom in February 2021.

Follow COCEMO and its sponsored activities at or on Facebook at “Contemplative Outreach of Central Missouri.”

For specific information about Centering Prayer Workshops, email, or call or text 573-645-0406. If calling, please leave a voice message.