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Peace, Prayer and Productivity: California “day monastery” melds work and prayer

Posted on: June 13, 2018 11:37 AM
IT consultant Christopher Curzon (left), and Dennis Doherty, founder of DohertyTech GOSLYN (right), are two of more than a dozen co-creators of The Divine Office who are working on rickety chairs and card tables while funds for renovation are being raised.
Photo Credit: Katie Cadigan / ENS

[ENS, by Pat McCaughan] When Dennis Doherty found working from his West Los Angeles home too distracting and isolating, he went to coffee shops and even the local IHOP [a chain of pancake restarurants]. Then he heard about The Divine Office (TDO) at St Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica, California, a few miles away. It blends monastic-style spirituality and the secular phenomenon of creative co-working spaces. Initially, “I wondered, what’s all this prayer business?” Doherty told the Episcopal News Service (ENS) during a recent telephone interview. “Then I decided, well, if this is the price I have to pay for having a quiet place to work, I’ll check it out.”

The Revd Katie Cadigan, associate rector and TDO founder, views it as a “micro-monastic community” operating in under-utilised rooms on St Augustine’s campus. With growing numbers of people working remotely, Cadigan hoped the church’s location – a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean – and its available space would draw from the area’s boom in younger, home-based professionals.

Funded, in part, through a $40,000 [USD, approximately £30,000 GBP] Episcopal Church New Church Start grant last year, TDO is “like a WeWork or like the people who work in Starbucks independently,” but whose participants pray several times daily, Cadigan said.

“This is kind of like a day monastery, where people will come to work and worship,” she said. “Instead of going off to a monastery, having a wonderful retreat and coming home and realising, after a day, a week, all that good feeling and connection is gone, what if we brought monastery-like experiences into our everyday world? What if we wrapped and enveloped our work lives in prayer?”

Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Bruce, a TDO adviser, said the idea immediately intrigued her. “People working from their homes can be and feel so isolated, which is the opposite of what Jesus modeled in being in community,” she told ENS.

“The Divine Office offers a space in which people can come together and connect – it is a holy space and time!”

  • Click here to read Pat McCaughan’s in-depth report for the Episcopal News Service.