Recipient of Exception Report Commendation from the Vice Chancellor, University of Divinity

This Commendation is for an outstanding result based on student feedback in 2019

Lecturers: Rev Dr Peter Bentley + Spiritual Formation Team

View a video trailer about the WellSpring formation units on offer through University of Divinity

Featuring Anne Mallaby (Academic Dean of Whitley College) and
Peter Bentley (Senior Lecturer in Formation, WellSpring Centre)

The Art of Contemplative Practice: A Formation Program for Everyone (UD code DS9201W) is offered for those seeking to explore contemplation as a basis for living and ministry.

This program has the attraction of the following features:

  • A flexible program allowing participants to adapt it to their own circumstances.
  • Participants may benefit from completing this unit on its own or using it to lead into other formation programs. (NB: Completion of this course is strongly recommended prior to enrolment in the Art of Spiritual Direction.)
  • There is a good balance between teaching, practicuums and peer groups.
  • Both teachers and students come from diverse faith traditions and this adds to the depth and richness of the program.
  • WellSpring Centre provides an attractive venue and excellent resources for training.
  • The unit is recognised by the University of Divinity and may earn credit towards the Graduate Diploma of Spiritual Direction or Spirituality and the Master of Arts (Spiritual Direction/Spirituality). FEE-Help may be available for course fees, for those who enrol through the University of Divinity. (NB: The cost of the residential gathering is additional.)


This course explores the foundational principles of contemplation and its relevance to our life, work and ministry contexts. The formation program will draw on the various contemplative elements of

  • Awareness – listening, seeing and reading
  • Meditation – deeply processing experiences
  • Prayer – responding to experiences
  • Contemplation – deepening awareness of God’s Presence
  • Discernment – openness to the invitation of God to respond
  • Action – based in faith, hope and love and
  • Integration of awareness of these elements into everyday lived experience.

Participants will be invited to reflect on these aspects of contemplation and their impact on their developing awareness of self, others and the Transcendent in their everyday life experience.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed and critical appreciation of contemplation
  2. Articulate a reflective understanding of various experiences of contemplation.
  3. Assess models of prayer, listening and action that relate to everyday life experience.
  4. Identify and develop contemplative practices that engage vocational practice.
  5. Critically explore a specific aspect of contemplative practice in a sustained and self-directed manner.
Course time structure

The unit will be taught over three weekend intensives of 12 hours per weekend. The first and last weekends involve interactive, experiential workshops and the middle weekend is a two-day live-in silent retreat.

Teaching Methods

There will be some teaching and experiential workshops, a retreat experience and a field trip. About 70% of the time will be given to interactive, experiential workshops.  The retreat experience will involve about 20% of the time allocation and the field trip about 10%.


Participants will be required to complete four assessment tasks:

  1. A reflective book review on the set text Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird
  2. A field trip report on an activity of choice.
  3. A personal journal focusing on the experience of contemplative practice.
  4. An essay discussing the impact of contemplative practice on the participant’s lived experience.

For more information, please contact Rosanne Arnott.

Teaching Team

Course Director: Rev. Dr Peter Bentley
Course Coordinator: Rosanne Arnott 

  • The team is made up of an ecumenical group of teachers and supervisors who are experienced spiritual directors. Together they bring a creative and balanced approach to this ministry.
  • Numbers are limited to allow maximum participation.

Course Details

NB: The Art of Contemplative Practice is strongly recommended before enrolling in The Art of Spiritual Direction Unit 1, and can also be taken on its own without progressing on to the Art of Spiritual Direction.

Academic Credit:

This unit can be taken for academic credit through Whitley College, a college of the University of Divinity.

2020 Dates

  • Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 January at WellSpring Centre, AND
  • Friday 7 to Sunday 9 February (off-site residential retreat), AND
  • Saturday 29 February to Sunday 1 March at WellSpring Centre

Process for enrolment for 2020

Step 1:

This unit is now full. If you have been advised that a place is being held for you, and you have not yet completed the WellSpring registration form, please email us for the link to complete the registration form.

Please complete the WellSpring registration form for The Art of Contemplative Practice before 13 December 2019, prior to enrolling in the unit with Whitley College.

Step 2:

Only if you have already registered for the unit with WellSpring (Step 1):

Decide whether to enrol in the unit for academic credit or as an auditing student. Both options happen through Whitley College.

Enrolment and Costs for 2020

Enrolment for academic credit:

This unit may count towards a post-graduate degree in Theology through Whitley College.

Costs are as per University of Divinity schedule for 2020 (post-graduate single unit).

Students who enrol through University of Divinity may be eligible for FEE-Help to cover course fees (NB: cost of residential gathering is not covered by FEE-Help).

The cost of the residential retreat ($290 including GST) is additional, and payable directly to WellSpring. You will be invoiced for this by WellSpring once you have enrolled through University of Divinity.

If you already a student with the University of Divinity, contact the registrar at your own Home College to arrange enrolment.

Contact for New Students:
Anne Mallaby
Coursework Coordinator
Whitley College
Ph: (03) 9340 8000
Dorothy Morgan
Whitley College
Ph: (03) 9340 8000

There is also the option of auditing this unit, at a reduced cost.

Fees for auditing for 2020 ($1,305) are payable in full to Whitley College at the time of enrolling as an auditing student.

The cost of the residential retreat ($290 including GST) is additional, and payable directly to WellSpring Centre. You will be invoiced for this by WellSpring once you have enrolled as an auditing student through University of Divinity.

Students who audit the unit are encouraged to complete the written tasks to gain full benefit.

NB: If you choose to enrol as an auditing student, no academic credit can be claimed for the unit, either at the time of enrolling or retrospectively.

To enrol as an auditing student:

Please download and complete this form and return it to Dorothy Morgan, Registrar at Whitley College.

Step 3:

If you are wishing to also apply for/enrol in The Art of Spiritual Direction Unit 1 in 2020, please click here to read further details about application dates and processes.