The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Plenary Sessions for ITMS 2019

Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Cam. 
Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Cam. is a Camaldolese monk and the current prior of New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California. He has authored two books, Prayer in the Cave of the Heart and Spirit and Soul and Body, both published by Liturgical Press. OCP (Oregon Catholic Press) has published six collections of Fr. Cyprian's original music. He is currently working with Liturgical Press on the Psallite: Songs for the Liturgy of Life project.

Fr. Cyprian Consiglio will perform original songs that have grown out of his contemplative life as a monastic hermit, a student of eastern contemplative traditions and practitioner of Interreligious dialogue. His music, which draws from the richness of the Catholic liturgical tradition, insights from the world's spiritual masters and secular poets, is a gateway to contemplation and worship, community building and friendship with God.

Rose Marie Berger 
An advocacy journalist who reports on the intersection of faith, politics, and culture, Rose Marie Berger is a senior associate editor and poetry editor for Sojourners magazine. She has traveled in several conflict zones to report on peacemaking and currently is active in the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, which formed in 2016 following a landmark April meeting in Rome on Catholics and nonviolence. Her writing has appeared in Sojourners, Religion News Service, U.S. Catholic, Huffington Post, The Merton Seasonal, as well as in the collections Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, Watershed Discipleship, Unsettling the Word, and Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence. She has most recently published her first poetry collection, Bending the Arch.

A native of the West Coast, Rose was raised in the American River watershed, in traditional Miwok territory in California. For more than 30 years (and six presidential administrations), Rose has lived in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in the Anacostia watershed, in traditional Piscataway territory. You can learn more at and follow her @RMBerger.

Robert Ellsberg 
Robert Ellsberg is the Publisher of Orbis Books and the author, most recently, of A Living Gospel: Reading God’s Story in Holy Lives. His other award-winning books include Blessed Among Us: Saintly Lives for Every Day, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time, and The Saints’ Guide to Happiness. He served as managing editor of The Catholic Worker for two years during the last years of Dorothy Day, and he has dedicated himself to editing her work and promoting her mission. He has edited Dorothy Day: Selected Writings, The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, and All the Way to Heaven: Selected Letters of Dorothy Day. In addition he has edited anthologies of Thich Nhat Hanh, Gandhi, Flannery O’Connor, Charles de Foucauld, and Pope Francis. For the past four years he has written a daily entry on saints for Give Us This Day.

Ron Hansen 
Ron Hansen is the author of screenplays, two collections of stories, a book of essays, and nine novels, the most recent being The Kid, which is based on the life of the outlaw William H. Bonney. Ron graduated from Creighton University in Omaha and went on to the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and Stanford University where he was a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellow. His novel Atticus was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. His novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. Mariette in Ecstasy won the Gold Medal in Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. Ron’s writing has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is currently the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University and a permanent deacon for the Diocese of San Jose.

Mark Meade 
Mark C. Meade is the Assistant Director of the Thomas Merton Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and President of the International Thomas Merton Society. Since coming to the Merton Center in 2003, he has created online finding aids to the Merton Collection, which include a full index of over 20,000 letters and nearly 40,000 manuscripts and published materials by and about Merton. He has delivered lectures on Thomas Merton in the United States, England, and Argentina. His essays on Merton have been published in the United States and Spain. His satirical essay on Merton appears in We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope. His poems, essays, and reviews have been published in The Merton Seasonal and The Merton Annual.

Mark is active in the movement to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky. He has lectured and published papers on Merton's reflections on Albert Camus and both writers' opposition to the death penalty. He has contributed articles on visiting Kentucky's death row to Fellowship magazine and U.S. Catholic.

Richard Rodriguez 

Photo by Barbara Falconer Newhall
Richard Rodriguez, a master of the personal essay, writes about the intersection of his personal life with some of the great vexing public issues of our time. In 1982, he published the autobiography of a "scholarship boy," Hunger of Memory. Widely read and hailed as a "minor classic,” that book remains controversial today because of its skepticism regarding affirmative action and bilingual education, and because of the sharp drama it presents of a boy getting educated away from his parents' home culture. Rodriguez has also written about the intersection of Catholic Mexico and Protestant America in his life. His longest treatment of the U.S./Mexico "philosophical border" was Days of Obligation: An argument with My Mexican Father. That book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction in 1993. More recently, he published Brown: The Last Discovery of America, his essay on race as "black" or "white" and the challenge to America posed by the (erotic) color brown.  Brown was nominated for the National Book Critics award. His last collection of essays (2014) was titled Darling; it concerns the Abrahamic “God of the desert” and a necessary sense of place in thinking about God, particularly in a digital age so oblivious.

He has worked as a journalist for various American newspapers, including (for fifteen years) the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times. He has been a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine, and, for nearly twenty years, he was a television essayist on the PBS "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." In 1997, he was awarded a George Peabody Award for his television essays on America. A few years earlier, in 1993, he received the Frankel Award (now renamed "The Humanities Medal”), the highest honor the Federal government gives to recognize work done in the humanities.