The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

ITMS 15th General Meeting

guide to concurrent Sessions

Session A - Friday, June 16 - 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Session B - Friday, June 16 - 3:30 PM -  4:45 PM

Session C - Saturday, June 17 - 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Session D - Saturday, June 17 - 1:30 PM -  2:45 PM    

Session E - Saturday, June 17 - 3:15 PM -  4:30 PM

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM


A1.  Merton and the Carmelite Tradition

a.  Alan Kolp – "Thomas Merton and the Mercies of the Night."

Alan Kolp is Professor of Religion and holder of the Baldwin Wallace University Chair in Faith & Life.  He is a Quaker and a Benedictine oblate.

Merton experienced night literally and metaphorically.  Literally the monastic day begins vigilantly in darkness.  This led to  Merton's metaphorical apophatic reflections on night/darkness as source of God's mysterious presence and mercy in the world.  An appreciation of Merton's developing counter-cultural perspective can be traced to his sense of the mercies of night.

b.  Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán – "Divine Mercy in Thomas Merton and St. John of the Cross: Encountering the Dark Nights in the Human Soul."

Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán y Fuentes is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Valdosta State University (Valdosta, Georgia). He is the editor of the Fons Vitae volume on Merton and the Tao. 

This paper examines the contemplative message of divine mercy in Merton and John of the Cross. For Merton, the Sanjuanist teaching of the dark night does not imply a pure negation but rather the highest expression of light, love and truth. This dark night is the night of faith when God deposits His infinite mercy in the blessed soul.


A2.  Merton at St. Bonaventure

a. Christine M. Bochen – "Learning Mercy at St. Bonaventure: Merton, the Draft and the Baroness."

Christine M. Bochen is a founding member and past president of ITMS.  She has taught Merton in a variety of settings, as well as edited a volume of Merton's journals, several volumes of Merton's letters, and an anthology of Merton's writings as well as co-authored, with William H. Shannon and Patrick O'Connell, The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia.

In this paper, I will draw on Merton’s autobiography, journal entries, and correspondence to shed light on how, overshadowed by God's mercy, Merton was beginning at St. Bonaventure to glimpse what becoming an instrument of mercy in a suffering world entailed.   In the early sixties, these glimpses would flower into a vision that would inform his prophetic witness against war and racism and for peace and justice.

b. Mary Frances Coady – "'A Fire That Burns': Thomas Merton, Catherine de Hueck Doherty, and the Story of The Secular Journal."

Mary Frances Coady's book, Merton & Waugh: A Monk, a Crusty Old Man, and The Seven Storey Mountain, was published in 2015.  She lives in Toronto. 

Catherine de Hueck Doherty had a decisive pre-Trappist influence on Thomas Merton. Their relationship was rekindled in 1956 when an early journal of Merton’s surfaced in Catherine's possession. This paper recounts the dramas that followed this discovery and examines the questions and difficulties that arose in its wake.


A3.  Merton and Inter-Religious Pilgrimage

a. Leslie D. Alldritt – "Thomas Merton and the Buddhist Devotion of Kannon in the Saigoku Pilgrimage: A Study of Mercy."

Leslie D. Alldritt is the Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Northland College. He also is an Associate Professor of Religion.

The paper will explore how Merton encountered devotional Buddhism and added it to his understanding and appreciation of Buddhism. To frame the discussion, the paper will focus its depiction of Avalokiteśvara in the Japanese form of Kannon as found in in the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

b. Edward K. Kaplan – "The Divine Pathos: Compassion and Commitment in Merton and Heschel."

Edward K. Kaplan has taught French and comparative literature and religious studies at Brandeis University since 1971. Author of on articles on Merton, Heschel, Buber, and Howard Thurman, he organized the Conference on Merton and Judaism published by Fons Vitae and has written a two-volume award-winning biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Thomas Merton and Abraham Joshua Heschel formed a critical alliance during sensitive discussions at Vatican II on the relation of the Catholic Church to Judaism and the Jews. They had in common a biblical religion charged with a vivid sense of a living God who cares passionately about humankind, what Heschel called "the divine pathos."


A4.  Workshop

William Meyer – "The Enlightened Teacher: An Inquiry into a Contemplative Curriculum."

William Meyer is an author, teacher, and student of Thomas Merton. He currently lives in New York, where he is finishing his PhD at NYU.

This workshop will explore a reflective pedagogy deeply rooted in the monastic writing of Thomas Merton.  The practices of meditation, silence, and engaged contemplation explored in this workshop will allow participants to foster a greater connection between the mind, the body, and the heart of their students and themselves.


A5.  Performance

Cassidy Hall – "In Pursuit of Silence: A Documentary Film."

Cassidy Hall is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and trained counselor. In 2011, she created her website,, in appreciation of her pilgrimages to the 17 Cistercian monasteries of the US and has since written on The Huffington Post Blog and Patheos. Cassidy joined the In Pursuit of Silence production team in 2013.

In our race towards modernity, amidst all the technological innovation and the rapid growth of our cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. As much a work of devotion as it is a documentary, In Pursuit of Silence is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, with sound, and the impact of noise on our lives.


A6.  Guided Prayer

Paul M. Pearson – "Overshadowed by Mercy: Thomas Merton and Pope Francis on Experiencing and Sharing God’s Mercy ."

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 edited: Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of  the Shakers, A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence of Thomas Merton with Edward Deming and Faith Andrews, and On Christian Contemplation.

This guided meditation, through the use of significant quotations from the writings of Thomas Merton and Pope Francis, will meditatively explore their understanding of mercy encouraging participants to reflect on their own experience of mercy, and the obligation resulting from that experience, to share that mercy with others.

3:30 PM – 4:45 PM


B1.  Merton and Contemplative Life

a. Patrick F. O'Connell – "Getting (to) the Message: Thomas Merton and the 1967 Bishops' Synod."

Patrick F. O'Connell has a rather hazy memory of there being a synod of bishops in 1967 and a much more vivid memory of the death of Thomas Merton the following year.

This presentation, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Synod of Bishops, will provide an overview clarifying the generally unrecognized relationship between these four texts, with particular attention to the specific contributions of Merton to the message sent to the synod, as well as to the thematic and textual similarities and differences among the three related pieces he himself composed.

b. Bonnie Thurston – "'Progress in Prayer'?: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Etta Gullick on Fostering Contemplative Life."

Bonnie Thurston wrote her dissertation on Merton, was a founding member of the ITMS and served as its third president.  She has written extensively and given retreats and lectured on Merton in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe. 

In the 1960's Merton wrote regularly to Etta Gullick (1922-1986), wife of an Oxford geographer, who herself taught prayer (spiritual formation) at St. Stephen's House, an Anglican college. This talk introduces their friendship then focuses on their discussions of teaching the contemplative life.


B2.  Prophetic Voices

a. David Golemboski "A Mysterious, Unaccountable Mixture of Good and Evil: Thomas Merton on Cooperation and Complicity."

David Golemboski is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri. He is a former Daggy Scholar and the incoming Vice-President of the ITMS.

This paper draws on Merton's experience as a collaborator in the 1960s peace movement as evidence of his familiarity with the dynamics of complicity and the challenges for maintaining integrity while working alongside other independent actors. Then, drawing on Merton's essay "The Root of War is Fear" and other texts collected in Passion for Peace, I highlight Merton's emphasis on the imperative to cooperate, even when it gives rise to the risk of complicity in morally undesirable ends. For Merton, to eschew cooperation in the name of moral purity is to forfeit one's capacity for action on urgent moral questions.

b. Gordon Oyer – "Merton and the 'Pessimism' of Jacques Ellul: Facing the Powers with Hope in God's  Mercy."

Gordon Oyer, a retired University of Illinois administrator with an MA in history, is the author of Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest and past editor of Illinois Mennonite Heritage Quarterly.

Merton responded to Ellul's thought—as encountered in The Technological Society, Propagandes and l’Illusion Politiques—with an initial enthusiasm that moderated over time. An important lens through which to view Merton's response involves his hope in God's merciful embrace of human persons and therefore humanity in general. 


B3.  Merton, Mercy and Wisdom                                                                                                                                                               

a. June-Ann Greeley "The Mercy of God: Mary as the Wisdom and Light of Salvation."

June-Ann Greeley, PhD, is an associate professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. She is a medievalist and a Mertonian.

This paper focuses on two essays from Merton's Seasons of Celebration: his 1952 essay "Advent in the Spirituality of St. Bernard" in which Mary is presented as merciful intercessor, and his 1962 essay "On Light and the Virgin Mary" in which Mary is the "the merciful 'light' of human salvation."

b. Jonathan Sozek – "Merton on Mercy and Justice."

In 2016-17, Jon will be a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Theology Department at Fordham University. He  holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Brown University as well as degrees from Sarah Lawrence, McGill, and Leuven. He was a Daggy Scholar in 2007.

In this paper I offer a reading of Merton's understanding of the relation between mercy and justice as expressed in Raids as well as in his better-known reflections on mercy (in No Man is an Island, "The Climate of Mercy" and his reflection on the parable of the Good Samaritan). Specifically, I consider how Merton responds to questions that have been prominent in Catholic life especially since Pope Francis's election: are mercy and justice compatible? Is it ever unjust to be merciful? Why is the very idea of mercy so often an object of suspicion in our modern, technological societies?


B4.  Workshop                                                                                                

Marianne Hieb "Merton and the Merciful Gaze as a Creative Act."

Marianne Hieb , RSM, MFA, D. Min is a studio artist, art therapist, author of Inner Journeying through Art-Journaling and Sister of Mercy with a special interest in Merton's mark-making.

Merton as a creative gazer engages merciful seeing through nature, individuals, and situations, with loving generosity and with piercing critique. This workshop invites shared insights into Merton’s cyclic dynamic of receiving and giving mercy. We will visually encounter a selection of his calligraphies, and have time to reflect on our experience of creative gazing using art and journaling materials. 


B5.  Performance

Paul J. Spaeth – "Merton at St. Bonaventure: Campus Walk."

Paul J. Spaeth is the Director of the Library at St. Bonaventure University and, as Special Collections Librarian, is also Curator of the Robert Lax Archive.

For a year and a half Merton taught English at St. Bonaventure's College. It was here at St. Bonaventure that he found the way to his life's calling. This campus walk will explore many of the places mentioned by Merton in The Seven Storey Mountain and associated with his time at St. Bonaventures.


B6.  Guided Prayer

Morgan Atkinson – "Merton's Love of the Natural World and His Sense of the Sacred: A Meditation."

Morgan Atkinson is a Louisville-based producer of several programs on Thomas Merton and the monastic life. His most recent work was The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton.

Few embraced the beauty of the natural world more passionately than Thomas Merton. Even fewer expressed their passion as eloquently. Using Merton's words and the advantage point of walking and photographing the woods of Gethsemani for some 40 years a meditation will be created that will seek to evoke some of the wonder that stirred Merton.

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM


C1.  Merton: Revelation and Redemption

a.  Daniel P. Horan – "Kyrie Eleison: Mercy at the Heart of Merton's Theology of Revelation."

Daniel P. Horan, OFM is a Franciscan friar, a professor at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, a columnist for America magazine, and has served three terms on the Board of Directors of ITMS. He is the author of several books including The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton (2014).

At the core of foundational theology is the notion of revelation, which is reflection on the means by which God reveals God's Self to humanity and the rest of creation. This paper is an exploration of how the theme of mercy is found at the heart of and throughout Merton's theology of revelation as it appears in several texts, including the books No Man is an Island and Opening the Bible, as well as essays such as "The Climate of Mercy" and "The Good Samaritan," among others.

b.  Ryan Scruggs – "The 'One Merciful Event': Thomas Merton on Cur Deus Homo."

Ryan Scruggs is a doctoral student at McGill University. He was a Shannon fellow in 2007 and a Daggy scholar in 2009. 

This presentation will examine Merton's appreciation for Anselm's Cur Deus Homo. In what way does Merton understand Anselm's doctrine of the atonement to be the "one merciful event" – that is, "the saving mystery of the cross"?


C2.  Merton and Foolish Mercy

a. Nass Cannon – "Mercy Within Mercy: Thomas Merton and The New Law."

Nass Cannon, a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama, enjoys reading Thomas Merton's works on contemplation with their implications for integrative medicine.

This paper reflects upon Merton's writings on mercy which "… heals bodies, spirit, society, and history [and] … is the only force that can truly heal and save." Written within our hearts as the new law, this force is the healing principle of our personhood and propels us towards communion with God and neighbor.

b. Michael Plekon – "God's Mercy and Foolish Love: Merton's Reading of Paul Evdokimov."

Michael Plekon is professor of Sociology and Religion and Culture at Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is a priest in the Orthodox Church in America, attached to St Gregory the Theologian Church, Wappingers Falls NY. 

Merton enthusiastically read and commented on Berdyaev, Bulgakov, Evdokimov. This paper will focus on Paul Evdokimov (1901-69) and the view of God's abundant, even absurd mercy for us which Merton found in him. Merton celebrated these Eastern Church writers and saints, like Seraphim of Sarov,  for the great compassion they saw in God, mercy within mercy that then should shape our regard for ourselves and each other. These, as we know, became hallmarks of Merton's vision.


C3.  Communication and Communion

a. William Apel  – "Witness to Mercy: Thomas Merton's Vocation as a Letter Writer."

William Apel is emeritus professor of religion and spirituality at Linfield College in Oregon.  He has published numerous articles in The Merton Seasonal, The Merton Annual, and The Merton Journal of Great Britain and Ireland, plus Signs of Peace: Interfaith Letters of Thomas Merton.

This paper will explore the topic of Mercy in  Thomas Merton's correspondence.  Selections from his letters to John Howard Griffin, Hideo Morishita, and Dona Louisa Coomaraswamy will be examined and exegeted in order to illustrate the manner by which Merton brings the notion of Mercy into the his dialogue with this diverse group of individuals.  It will be argued that Merton's understanding of Mercy is an expansive one much in line with the idea of Mercy so deeply rooted in the biblical/prophetic reality of chesed - God's steadfast love (Seasons of Celebration 175-183).

b. Mario Zaninelli  – "Communicating Mercy: Thomas Merton’s Challenge to the Papacy."

Mario Zaninelli, a diocesan priest in Milan, Italy, is the co-founder of the Italian Thomas Merton Association. He translates Merton into Italian, most recently publishing the complete correspondence between Merton and Paul VI.

This paper explores the theme of God’s mercy in Merton’s correspondence with popes of his lifetime, especially Paul VI. I shall include Merton’s writing on mercy as it resonates with the teachings and actions of Pope Francis.


C4.  Workshop

Jacqueline Chew and Christine Bachich – "Spirituality of Thomas Merton and Robert Lax through Movement and Music."

Christine Bachich, dancer, currently dances with Dancers Circle, a liturgical dance group based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In July 2016 she journeyed to the island of Patmos to visit Robert Lax’s hermitage.

Jacqueline Chew, pianist, has recorded Sweet Irrational Worship: The Niles-Merton Songs with baritone Chad Runyon. A Camaldolese – Benedictine oblate, she teaches piano at the University of California-Berkeley.

This contemplative workshop will explore the spirituality of Merton and Lax through the experience of movement to live music. Using Merton's and Lax's poetry, journal entries and other works as inspiration, Christine Bachich will guide participants in gentle movement, including hand gestures, walking patterns and group "tableaux". Jacqueline Chew will provide live piano music drawn from classical works of all periods.


C5.  Performance

Kevin Burns – "Bernard, to his beloved son, Thomas. …saturated with the dew of mercy…"

Kevin Burns is a Canadian writer, editor, and award-winning radio documentary producer. Previous ITMS presentations include: Beyond the Shadow and the Disguise (1999) and Invisible Light (2001).

An encounter between St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Merton in their own words. Accompanied by projected images and an evocative musical soundtrack, these great Cistercians address monasticism, contemplation, vocation, prayer, peace, politics, mercy, and their differences.


C6.  Guided Prayer

Sahar Alsahlani and Mark C. Meade – "A Muslim/Christian Peace Pilgrimage with Thomas Merton."

Sahar Alsahlani serves with the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Executive Council of Religions for Peace USA, the Council on American-Islamic Relations-NY, and GreenFaith.

Mark C. Meade is the Assistant Director of the Thomas Merton Center and the Vice President of the International Thomas Merton Society.

Pilgrimage holds a privileged place in Muslim and Christian traditions. Making the Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Through interactive meditations, we will explore non-violence as a means to transcend historical divisions between Christianity and Islam. Participants will be invited to experience hospitality, enact mental pilgrimage, and pray together for peace.

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM


D1.  Merton and Merciful Praxis

a.  Dominiek Lootens – "Thomas Merton and the Vocation of Peacemaking: Christian Chaplaincy in a Multi-Faith Context."

Dominiek Lootens is pastoral supervisor at Caritas Flanders (CAIROS) and deputy director of academic affairs at UCSIA. He is lecturer at PTHV and vice-president of SIPCC.

Working as a Christian chaplain in a multi-faith context asks for a deepening of roots. Thomas Merton inspires chaplains to look for resources on peacemaking in their tradition. He invites them to act nonviolently in solidarity with colleagues from other traditions. We will focus on the praxis of hospital chaplaincy.

b. Anna Pfaff - "Metanoia in the Modern Age: Lessons from Thomas Merton’s Christian-Marxist Dialogue."

Anna Pfaff received her B.A. in American Studies from Hillsdale College and now manages donor relations for the American Principles Project in Washington, D.C.

As the youngest adult generation increasingly identifies as religious "nones," Merton's encounter with the faithless of his time can help us mercifully communicate Truth to the modern soul. His characterization of Christianity as anti-alienation serves as both resistance to secularizing forces and as a bridge to those unsuccessfully seeking freedom


D2.  Merton and Formation for Mercy

a. Christopher Fici – "The Earth-Honoring Vision of Thomas Merton: A Merciful Gaze for Planetary Contemplation and Righteous Action."

Christopher Fici is a Ph.D candidate in Eco-Theology and Comparative Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

This presentation will consider Thomas Merton's contemplative eco-vision for Earth and his fellow planetary community as a vision of mercy which compels within us righteous and urgent action in response to our climate crisis. Merton's merciful vision allows us to immediately recover our sense of interconnectedness with our planetary community.

b. Jonathan Montaldo – "A Legacy of Confession and Witness: Thomas Merton's Compassionate Transparency."

Jonathan Montaldo, a past ITMS president, has most recently edited We Are Already One: Thomas Merton's Message of Hope. 

Adapting insights of Pierre Hadot, I explore Merton's journal and letter writing as his means to achieve virtue ("Compassionate transparency") through an ascetics of publicly exposing his conscience and artfully disclosing his character. His autobiographical writing is an intended spiritual exercise that invites readers to value their own inner work.


D3.  Merton, Mysticism and Mercy

a. Paul R. Dekar – "Merton on 'the Wilderness of Compassion'."

Paul R. Dekar is Professor Emeritus of Evangelism and Mission, Memphis Theological Seminary and author of Thomas Merton. Twentieth Century Wisdom for Twenty-First Century Living (Eugene, 2011).

This paper explores Merton's reflections about his "wilderness of compassion" [November 29, 1951 journal entry]. The word wilderness is synonymous with desert, compassion with mercy. Written at a time of transition, the phrase provides a window into Merton's understanding of his vocation as he took up his new role as Master of Scholastics and continued to write with growing insights on God, contemplation and friendship.

b. Kathleen Deignan – "Overshadowed: Thomas Merton and The Cloud of Unknowing."

Kathleen Deignan, CND, is Professor of Religious and Environmental Studies at Iona College and Past President of ITMS. Her books include When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours. She is a GreenFaith Fellow and sits on the board of The American Teilhard Association.

This paper will explore the context and content of The Cloud of Unknowing and consider how Merton's spiritual pilgrimage brought him to a similar experience of being overshadowed by luminous darkness and merciful presence.  Bringing these two great masters of "overshadowment" into dialogue will enrich our understanding of a paradoxical state of dark illumination that is inviting territory for post post-modern spiritual pilgrims seeking the mercy and intimacy of living – like Merton - beneath The Cloud of Unknowing.


D4.  Workshop

Monica Weis – "Allowing Landscape to Nudge Us to Prayer: The Power of Place."

Monica Weis SSJ, professor emerita of English and member of the Program Committee, annually organizes a Merton panel for the College English Association and has published numerous articles and books on Merton.

A) Looking at quotations that reflect Merton's love for France and England, this workshop will invite participants to consider the influence geography has had on their own life. B) Focusing on the Bonaventure landscape, participants will be invited to absorb the grace of the campus--then share the fruit of their reflective experience.


D5.  Performance

Cassidy Hall – "In Pursuit of Silence: A Documentary Film."

Cassidy Hall is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and trained counselor. In 2011, she created her website,, in appreciation of her pilgrimages to the 17 Cistercian monasteries of the US and has since written on The Huffington Post Blog and Patheos. Cassidy joined the In Pursuit of Silence production team in 2013.

In our race towards modernity, amidst all the technological innovation and the rapid growth of our cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. As much a work of devotion as it is a documentary, In Pursuit of Silence is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, with sound, and the impact of noise on our lives.


D6.  Guided Prayer

Paul M. Pearson - “Thomas Merton: In His Own Voice."

Paul M Pearson is Director and Archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, resident secretary of the ITMS and chief of research for the Merton Legacy Trust.

An hour-long audio-visual reflection using segments from the recordings of Thomas Merton’s lectures at the Abbey of Gethsemani, interspersed with periods for silent reflection, and accompanied by images and quotations. The selected recordings bring together some of Merton’s key teaching on prayer and the spiritual life. The recordings are from the archives of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.

3:15 PM – 4:30 PM


E1.  Merton  and Literary Figures

a.  Tom Stewart – "Compassionate Leadership: Models of Mercy in Merton and O'Connor."

Tom Stewart is an associate professor in Western Kentucky University's Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research, and uses Merton's philosophy to guide his work.

Thomas Merton and Flannery O'Connor shared passions for the Church and social commentary, but also for implicitly and explicitly painting pictures of merciful and/or redeemed leadership. This paper explores how these examples could enhance the school leader's capacity for mercy while also allowing them to remain uncompromising about leading ethically.

b.  Andrew Belfield – "The Preacher and the Doctor: Merton's Engagement with the Theme of Mercy in Albert Camus's The Plague."

Andrew M. Belfield is a former Daggy Scholar who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology from St. Bonaventure University and Loyola University Maryland. 

In Albert Camus's The Plague, two figures of mercy emerge. Father Paneloux offers mercy in theological reflection and puzzling, whereas Doctor Rieux practices mercy in service and solidarity. Merton's reflections on these two characters reveal profound insights into the nature of Christian mercy and its role in the contemplative life.


E2.  Merton  and Artistic Expression

a. Jon Sweeney – "Merton the Poet as One of 'God’s Troubadours'."

Jon M. Sweeney is the author of two dozen books including The Pope Who Quit, which was optioned by HBO, The Complete Francis of Assisi, and The Enthusiast: How the Best Friend of Francis of Assisi Almost Destroyed What He Started. He is the Executive Editor for Trade Books at Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame, Indiana, and he lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.

In this paper I will draw parallels between Merton's later poems and the writings, anecdotes, and teachings of Francis of Assisi and Brother Juniper. Whether or not Merton took direct inspiration from the men who called themselves "God's troubadours," the first generation of Franciscans and Merton's later poetry may be seen as drawing from the same spiritual well.

b. Robert Whalen – "Thomas Merton and John Coltrane – Jazz and the Mercy beyond Being."

Robert Weldon Whalen is the Carolyn G. and Sam H. McMahon, Jr. Professor of History at Queens University of Charlotte, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he teaches modern European and American history. He is especially interested in 20th century European and North American cultural history. 

This paper will compare and contrast the work of Thomas Merton and John Coltrane, especially Merton's poetry and visual art and Coltrane's music, particularly his famous album, A Love Supreme. It will examine both from the perspective each thought so vital, the personal and transforming experience of Divine Mercy.


E3.  Merton and Archaic Wisdom

a. Robert Toth – "Ishi: A Parable for Our World and its Fate."

Robert Toth was Executive Director of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living from 1998 – 2010.

This presentation will reflect on the insights in Ishi in Two Worlds that Merton found important for himself and consider the parable he encourages us to find in it.  For anyone "deeply concerned about man and his fate," reading Ishi in Two Worlds, at least once, prior to the presentation will greatly enrich the experience.

b. Deborah Kehoe – "The Poet with a Thousand Voices: Thomas Merton's The Geography of Lograire."

Deborah Kehoe teaches English as Northeast Mississippi Community College and the University of Mississippi. She is a frequent presenter at ITMS General Meetings and is Co-Editor of The Merton Annual.

This paper focuses on the epic work of Merton’s late career, in which he draws from ancient wisdom writings, historical and anthropological records, as well as his own storehouse of memory and imagination, to display the hidden wholeness of human existence and the myriad trespasses against that sacred unity.


E4.  Workshop

Maria Surat – "Merton, the Catholic Peace Fellowship and Peace-making as an Apostolic Work of Mercy."

Maria Surat has been a member of the Catholic Peace Fellowship for five years. She is an adjunct instructor in Service Learning at Holy Cross College (South Bend, IN) and was a 2015 Daggy Scholar.

This workshop will present a section on the history, origins and mission of the CPF. The second movement will focus more intensely on mercy and Christian peace-making in the light of the thought of early CPF advisers Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan, CPF co-founders Jim Forest and Tom Cornell, as well as in the teaching of Pope Francis and others. There will be an opportunity for participants in the workshop to reflect, discern and discuss how to practice and embody this mercy and peace in their various local communities.


E5.  Performance

Paul J. Spaeth – "Merton at St. Bonaventure: Campus Walk."

Paul J. Spaeth is the Director of the Library at St. Bonaventure University and, as Special Collections Librarian, is also Curator of the Robert Lax Archive.

For a year and a half Merton taught English at St. Bonaventure's College. It was here at St. Bonaventure that he found the way to his life's calling. This campus walk will explore many of the places mentioned by Merton in The Seven Storey Mountain and associated with his time at St. Bonaventures.


E6.  Performance

Paul Quenon – "Thomas Merton’s Death Seen from the Home Grounds."

Brother Paul Quenon has been a monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani for 58 years. He received his initial training as a Novice under Thomas Merton and had already been in the community 10 years at the time of Merton's death. Originally from West Virginia, Merton's influence and the beauty of Gethsemani have reinforced his love for hills, fields and woodlands .

This is a story, told from a personal point of view, about what transpired at the monastery where I was living at the time of Merton’s death. It begins before the Asian trip, and focuses on premonitions and signs of what was to come. Some description will be given of the announcement of his death, of my own reaction and of the atmosphere of the community.  The day of the funeral and the Mass is included.


E7.  Guided Prayer

Jeffrey Kiernan – "Sturgeon Bay Sunset: A Prayer Service of Silence, Music, and Words Inspired by Christopher Pramuk and Thomas Merton."

Jeff Kiernan is a religion teacher (retired from Notre Dame High School, Fairfield, CT) and Adjunct Lecturer in Sociology and the Sociology of Religion (retired from Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, CT). He has served the ITMS in various capacities, published in The Merton Seasonal and The Merton Annual, and presented at numerous ITMS General Meetings.

Christopher Pramuk beautifully describes a family scene at sunset at Sturgeon Bay, Lake Michigan that can be seen as an epiphany. Epiphanies are found in Thomas Merton's writing. Such epiphanies can be seen as calls by Mercy to a conversion of heart leading to action toward a more just global community. This prayer service will use some "gems" from both Pramuk and Merton, periods of silence, and a selection of recorded music from a variety of genres. Hopefully our time in the prayer service will create a space where each of us can embrace the challenge and reality of "mercy, always, in everything, mercy."

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