It is a blessing to accept our Chapter’s call to serve you as our Chapter’s Coordinator for the next three years. Since many of you don’t know me, it seemed to me I should share my contemplative journey with you.
My journey began in 2005, when I was invited to an Introduction to Centering Prayer Workshop at Annunciation Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs. The speaker, a monk I had never heard of, turned out to be Thomas Keating. His description of Centering Prayer promised to be the answer to the longing for resting in God I had been experiencing for some time. On the way out, I acquired Open Mind and Open Heart, a set of Fr. Keating’s and Fr. Rohr’s CDs, and the address to the Contemplative Outreach website. Those were my only resources for the next five years, as I practiced Centering by myself, in my room. My wife Donna was the only person who knew I was centering.
Five years ago I began attending the 3-day retreats our Chapter was sponsoring. My first retreat, led by Basha Perez at San Pedro, was truly transformative. In 2012, my pastor asked me to help start a Centering Prayer group at our church. Through the CO website, I found a Facilitator Workshop being offered in St. Louis. There I met Denise Hall who introduced me to COCFL, and recruited me to help Kathy Kotas and Elmer Seifert organize our Chapter along the new Service Team concept being implemented throughout CO. New friends blossomed, as together, with the other dedicated members of our Servant Leadership Service Team, we worked to support our Centering Prayer groups in Central Florida. This included facilitating our own Facilitator Workshop in 2014. Last July, while attending a National Servant Leadership retreat in St. Louis, Susan Komis, Director of CO Chapter Programs and Services, invited me to join her National Contemplative Outreach team to help empower CP group facilitators. CP has become the fulcrum of my spiritual journey. Since our chapter’s Visioning Day last October, serving the needs of our CP groups in Central Florida has become my top service priority. Please pray God grant me the grace of a servant’s heart.
Nestor de Armas