The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Merton 100: Living the Legacy

Guide to opening Sessions

Thursday, June 4 - 2.00 PM - 3.00 PM

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

A1. First-Timers Orientation - Robert G. Grip                                                                          

Robert G. Grip is news anchor at WALA television in Mobile, AL. He has served as chair of the ITMS membership committee, 12th President of the Society and Program Chair for the 2013 Conference.

This orientation session is designed for those attending their first ITMS meeting. The session will include a brief introduction to Thomas Merton, then consider the meeting theme and offer a preview of meeting events and sessions. The orientation is an opportunity to meet other first-timers.


A2. ITMS Chapters Workshop - Mike Brennan                 

Mike Brennan serves as ITMS Coordinator of Chapters and loves medieval and Church history. He works at O’Hare Airport and lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.  

If you are interested in discovering what ITMS chapters are doing, locating a chapter near you, or learning how you might go about founding a chapter, attend this session.


A3. Creating a Community of Merton Scholars                                                                    

David J. Belcastro, Patricia A. Burton, Patrick F. O’Connell, Paul M. Pearson, Joseph Q. Raab

David Belcastro is Professor of Religious Studies at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio, Co-Editor of The Merton Annual, and Vice-President of ITMS. 

Patricia A. Burton is the compiler of numerous Merton bibliographical resources, including the Merton Vade Mecum, About Merton: Secondary Sources 1945-2000 and More Than Silence: A Bibliography of Thomas Merton.

Patrick F. O’Connell ITMS founding member and former president, is editor of The Merton Seasonal, coauthor of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, and editor of six volumes of Merton’s monastic conferences. 

Paul M. Pearson is Director and Archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, resident secretary and treasurer of the ITMS and chief of research for the Merton Legacy Trust. He is editor of Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers.

Joseph Q. Raab is associate professor of religious studies and director of the Liberal Arts Studies Program at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. He is co-Editor of The Merton Annual. 

This session will include a panel presentation regarding the publications of The Merton Seasonal and The Merton Annual, the process for submitting to either journal, and opportunities to discuss ways to support persons interested in Merton, contemplation and the social issues of the 21st century.


A4. Emerging Scholars I                                                                                                      

a. Jason Brown - "Thomas Merton: Lover of Place, Environmental Archetype."

Jason M. Brown is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES). He is a member of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, and just completed a month long monastic life retreat at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Carlton, OR.

Using Thomas Merton's major writings, personal journals, and later wilderness essays, this short scholarly presentation will discuss Merton's broad but underappreciated nature writing on topics such as the role of work in monastic life, technology, sacramental eco-theology, and his sense of place at Gethsemani. This paper will situate Merton himself as an environmental archetype similar to ecological luminaries such as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, John Muir and Edward Abbey.


b. Joshua Currie - "Thomas Merton and the New Evangelization."

Joshua Currie holds an MA in systematic theology and an MA in philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, Ca.  He is currently applying to various Ph.D. programs in hopes of advancing his graduate studies regarding Thomas Merton and the lay contemplative potential.

Thomas Merton's model for the modern contemplative journey can be understood as a suitable methodology for answering the challenge posed to the laity within the context of the New Evangelization.


c. Michael Jerge - "Motherhood, Merton and the Wisdom of Hagia Sophia."

My name is Michael Jerge, and I am a Senior at Xavier University from Munster, Indiana. I discovered Merton's writings during a theology seminar at Xavier University.

Contemplation, for Merton, involves every aspect of the body, as well as phenomenological and transcendental intuitions. Analogously, Merton encounters Wisdom as a "real presence," a metaphysical transubstantiation who is more than symbol and physically arises through "all created being." Merton's recognition of motherhood's role ultimately occurs through humanity becoming a single heavenly body itself. Drawing from Merton's Hagia Sophia and journals, I attempt to explore how Merton's contemplative vision and practice pinpoint the liminal spaces between memory and observation, verismo and idealismo.


A5. Emerging Scholars II                                                                                                      

a. Phil Garrity - "Spiritual Rupture and Reconciliation: Merton's Solitude Examined through the Lens of Illness."

Phil Garrity is a Master of Divinity candidate at Boston College exploring the intersection of psychology and spirituality in the care of the sick.

Merton's conception of solitude transforms from an isolating flight from a world he sees as superficial to a deeper journey that reconnects him with society even as lives apart from it. This transformation is explored through the lens of my own cancer experience and an existential search for meaning.


b. Hyeokil Kwon - "Narrate Yourself, Answer Your Own Question: Spiritual Identity and Spiritual Experience in Thomas Merton's Autobiography."

Hyeokil Kwon is a Presbyterian pastor and a PhD student in Christian spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.

For Thomas Merton, to narrate his spiritual journey is a process of finding his spiritual identity. In his autobiography, his self-identity is expressed in various titles and radically advances in his spiritual experiences. Merton's narration of the growth of his spiritual identity encourages and guides people to answer their own question, "Who am I". 


c. Anna Robertson – "Ministers of Silence: Innocence and Counter-Narratives in the Writings of Thomas Merton."

Anna Robertson is a Master of Divinity student at the STM at Boston College. She studied historical memory and grassroots narrative construction in El Salvador.

This paper analyzes the role of the poet/prophet in Merton's writings as "minister of silence" to a world of disjointed noise. Referencing Merton's "innocence of the poet," it suggests how scholars and communities might displace oppressive narratives and retrieve narratives which better reflect the Kingdom of God.


d. Lilin Wu - "Present is a Gift: What Thomas Merton teaches us to enjoy our ordinary life?"

Lilin Wu is a PhD candidate of Peking University writing her dissertation on Thomas Merton’s contemplation.

For Merton, at first he thought monastic life only means prayer and contemplation but later he slowly find to be a contemplative means to pray in every time, cleaning the washroom, cooking, helping novices, listening the guest … Life needs be enjoyed and appreciated, which is at last in Chuang Tzu, Merton found the soul-mate. In this line, my paper will follow Merton's life and showing how Merton teaches us to enjoy life.

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