"The Power of Communal Contemplation"

The Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue (ICCD) is a community of people who recognize this as a time of uncertainty and chaos but who have chosen to engage the impasses of our age by living and acting from a deep spiritual commitment to contemplation and dialogue.

President’s Message


If you’ve come to this website because you too are in search of new ways to bring about change, permit me to introduce you to this site and the mission and work of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue.

Founded in 2002, ICCD seeks new ways of engaging the impasse that many persons experience as they struggle to bring about systemic change in societal and ecclesial arenas. Since its beginning ICCD has recognized that all the usual ways of addressing such “no way out situations” are inadequate. ICCD believes that the only way to address these situations is to bring them to the deep inner resources of contemplation.

ICCD believes we are living in a critical time for the evolution of our planet—a chaos point where breakdown or breakthrough occurs. ICCD’s work has brought hundreds of people to a new understanding of howcandle to be and act in responding to the growing injustices within our world.

ICCD’s major program, Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue® invites participants to look at impasse from the perspective of communal contemplation and dialogue; to face into one’s fears as to why the impasse evoked in them such feelings; and to imagine another way of being and doing. When you have finished reading this Welcome, I invite you to click on the ICCD Programs menu and visit the Engaging Impasse Circles program where you will find an overview of how as it has evolved through the years and a rich library of articles on Contemplation, Dialogue, Impasse, Globalization, New Cosmology, and more that will enrich your own contemplative moments.

Exercising Contemplative Power is the focus of ICCD’s second decade. The goal of the program is twofold:

1. to continue the engaging impasse process which has been the keystone of the Institute’s work; and

2. to provide opportunities, processes and reflections so as to accelerate the growth in consciousness needed for transformation through a process of communal contemplation and dialogue.

Believing that we are living at the chaos point there is the opportunity for     breakthrough rather than continued breakdown. More and more people need to tap into their deep knowing that something is wrong and that a needechaosd response must come from the deep place of one’s divine indwelling. Imagining new ways of being and doing rooted in a communal contemplative process is an urgent need in our church and in our world. Without that commitment to contemplative practice the shifts in our consciousness that we so need to “take a long loving look at the real” will not happen. Without the transformation of consciousness we will be stuck in an old way of seeing that fosters duality and separation rather than unity and connectedness. With contemplative practice we are “putting on the mind of Christ” – Christ consciousness.

Exercising Contemplative Power is both the focus for the next phase of the Institute’s work as well as the name of a new program. Through this program those who have participated in the Engaging Impasse Circles and others with whom ICCD’s vision and values resonate reflect together on how we exercise contemplative power in relation to various issues. When you finish reading this Welcome, I invite you to visit the Exercising Contemplative Power section under ICCD Programs. There you can join in the reflections and contemplative conversations via the Exercising Contemplative Power Blogs.

Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty is another exciting program for our second decade. This one-day program is being offered around the country. We want to offer this opportunity to more people. Read about what being a sponsor entails and contact us at the e-mail provided. We have designed a follow-up process for those who participate. Access to that part of the web site is currently restricted to those who are engaged participants. Some reflections or discussions may be posted for general use. When you have finished reading this Welcome, I invite you to visit the Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty section under ICCD Programs.

We will continue to post new Reflections and Recommended Reading by ICCD staff and invite others to present offerings which will move us forward in deepening our evolving consciousness. For those of you who are already part of the ICCD community you may want to reread these reflections in light of your current experience. You may feel you want to comment on something. You can do so directly from this site.

We know the task of transformation does not happen in isolation. We hope that this web site will be a source of support, enrichment, networking, and creativity for those of us who believe deeply in communal contemplation and dialogue as a way of evolving our consciousness.

We hope you like this website and if you do would you tell your friends. Would you click “Like” on FACEBOOK and ask your friends to do the same.

Nancy Sylvester, IHM

© 2012 Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue
Reprint with permission iccdinstitute@aol.com

1 – Spiral

What’s New

Contemplate This: Global Sisters Report

Published by National Catholic Reporter


Would You Stop Staring….

by Nancy Sylvester, ihm in NCR

June 30, 2014

My aunt had a cottage in Michigan City, Ind., and she would let each of her sisters with their families have the use of it for two weeks during the summer months. The drive from Chicago where I grew up took about an hour and a half. I would always want to sit in the back seat on the passenger side. There I would turn and just look out the window. I loved to see the cityscape turn to fields and wooded areas. I liked not talking but just staring. In fact, later when I was already in the convent and teaching at one of our high schools the sister I lived with often said “stop staring” as I would sit in the living room in the morning praying but obviously looking up and seemingly through her. In retrospect I think those moments hinted at my attraction to a contemplative practice!  …  read more


When Words don’t Work

by Nancy Sylvester, ihm in NCR

May 28, 2014

Have you ever said, “That word doesn’t work anymore,” when you were trying to explain something? You had to fish around for a word, a phrase that might capture what you wanted to say because you realized that the old way of talking about things didn’t quite match your experience. Such a moment brings home to me the power of words, of language…. read more


Contemplation, a Call to All

Contemplation is a form of prayer that is wordless, a form of prayer I have been practicing close to 30 years and believe it is part of the spiritual journey for everyone as we explore how to integrate our faith into the realities of our 21st-century lives….read more


Summer Retreat 2014

Nancy Sylvester, ihm

Contemplative Exploration into Evolutionary Christianity

June 15-June 20

The Well Spirituality Center

LaGrange, IL

Click here for more information


US Catholic’s Interview of Nancy Sylvester, IHM. (Jan 6, 2014)

Nancy Sylvester, IHM, was interviewed by U.S. Catholic magazine. The article is the cover story for the January 2014 issue; its title is “From Piety to Politics: The evolution of an American sister.” In addition there is another piece, which appears only on the Web version, focusing on Nancy’s work with engaging impasse. Its title is “Working toward systemic change in the Church today”.  Read now.


Nancy Interviewed by WATER


Nancy Sylvester, IHM is interviewed by WATER. Nancy shares about her work with the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue on a monthly teleconference  inviting women who make a difference in the church or society to share their experience.


Future Programs

January 4-7, 2015:

Becoming the Person of your Dreams: A program for college students

  • Long Island college students at Our Lady of Grace in Manhasset, NY


Recent Programs 2014-15

Exercising Contemplative Power Conference Calls

Early May 2014:

How do we exercise contemplative power within the political arena, emphasizing the type of influence of persons like the Koch brothers?

Early June 2014:

How do we exercise contemplative power in addressing inequality?


Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty: A 1-day Program

February 8, 2014
Cormaria Retreat House
Sag Harbor, NY

March 22, 2014
St. Paul, MN