International Thomas Merton Society

    NEWSLETTER

                    Vol. 8, No. 1                                  Spring, 2001

 

New Merton Center Director

Dr. Paul M. Pearson will assume the position of Director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University on June 1, 2001. A native of Great Britain, he became Associate Director and Archivist for Special Collections in January 2001, after moving to Louisville with his wife, Helen, a professional librarian, and their nine-month old daughter Anne. Current Director Jonathan Montaldo will remain at the Center as Associate Director.

Paul Pearson received his B.Th. in Theology from La Sainte Union College in Southhampton, England, and earned his M.Th. and Ph.D. in Theology from Heythrop College at the University of London, as well as an M.A. in Library and Information Studies from University College, London. His theses and his dissertation focused on Thomas Merton. A regular speaker at ITMS conferences, he was a founder of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland and an editorial advisor of The Merton Journal published by that Society. He serves as an ITMS International Advisor and was awarded a "Louie" in 1999 at the ITMS Sixth General Meeting in Waterloo, Ontario for his contributions to the ITMS.

In welcoming Dr. Pearson to the Center, Jonathan Montaldo said, "I began recruiting Dr. Paul M. Pearson for the Thomas Merton Center within a month of my arrival in December, 1998. Given his professional theological degrees with a Merton emphasis, his Masters in Library Science, and his youth at age thirty-seven, Paul is uniquely qualified to administer Merton’s largest archive for years, even decades, to come. In October,

1999, Bellarmine Library Director David Chatham and myself completed the ‘Master Plan’ for the Merton Collection in which we listed every task required to preserve the complete collection and make it digitally accessible to researchers and the general public. Obtaining Dr. Pearson’s leadership for the ‘Master Plan’s’ projects was a priority and his arrival at the Center in January, 2001 satisfies this major goal. I and those who know Paul Pearson could not be more confident in his future leadership at the Center." Montaldo added, "I shall continue at the Merton Center as Associate Director upon Paul Pearson’s becoming the Center’s Director and Archivist of Special Collections on June 1. The length of my association on a daily basis with the Center after June l has yet to be determined but, when I leave, I shall be grateful for the kindness of those who invited me to lead the Center through a transition period that has now happily ended with Paul Pearson’s arrival."

Campbell to Speak at General Meeting

Will D. Campbell, Baptist minister, civil rights activist, prolific author and close friend of Thomas Merton, will deliver one of the major addresses at the upcoming ITMS Seventh General Meeting to be held at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, June 7-10, 2001. A native of south Mississippi, Campbell served as a U.S. Army medic in the South Pacific during World War II and graduated from Wake Forest University and Yale Divinity School. As race-relations troubleshooter for the National Council of Churches and as Director of the biracial Committee of Southern Churchmen, Campbell was among the most conspicuous of white Southerners working for social justice in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He was a correspondent and frequent visitor of Merton, who served with Campbell on the Committee of Southern Churchmen and contributed to the committee journal, Katallagete.

Campbell is the author of seventeen books, including Brother to a Dragonfly, a National Book Award finalist that was also named one of the ten most notable works of nonfiction of the 1970s by Time magazine; the new anniversary edition published in 2000 includes a Foreword by former President Jimmy Carter. Other books include Up to Our Steeples in Politics, a critique of modern religion, the novel The Glad River, the memoir Forty Acres and a Goat, and most recently Soul among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher. He has been the subject of a PBS documentary entitled "God’s Will" and of magazine profiles in Rolling Stone, LIFE, The Progressive, Esquire and other publications. He and his wife Brenda have lived on a 60-acre farm near Mt. Juliet, TN since 1956.

2000 Retreats

About three hundred people attended seven ITMS-sponsored retreats during the summer, fall and winter of 2000-2001. This is the third time that the Merton Society has sponsored regional retreats during years when a General Meeting was not held. The retreats were organized by local ITMS chapters with the assistance of the ITMS Retreats Committee, Walt Chura, Judith Hardcastle and Jonathan Montaldo. As with previous retreats, the common theme, "Magnetic North / True North: Geography Beyond Boundaries," was taken from the preceding year’s General Meeting.

The retreat sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter was held June 24-25 at the Maria Center in St. Louis. The director was Dorothy LeBeau.

The retreat sponsored by the Capital Region (NY) Chapter took place Sept. 8-10 at the Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondacks. The director was Walt Chura. Twelve people attended, most of whom were not ITMS members, nor members of the local chapter. Several were repeat retreatants from previous years who said they came for Merton and for the wilderness setting. A nun from Philadelphia making a private retreat who joined the group found it very fruitful and renewing of her energies for returning to her inner-city work. All other participants were laity, four men, eight women (two married couples). Most agreed that the Adirondack wilderness was the perfect setting for a retreat on the theme of "Magnetic North-True North."

The retreat sponsored by the Chicago Chapter also took place Sept. 8-10, at Holy Cross Monastery, located in the heart of the city. The director, Jonathan Montaldo, gave six presentations. Liturgies were celebrated with the monks. The retreat concluded with a circle of quiet and spontaneous sharing by persons as the Spirit moved them. There were over thirty in attendance, including priests, sisters, university professors and students, and regular folks.

The retreat at the Cistercian Abbey of Nuestra Señora de Viceli, Cóbreces, Cantabria, Spain took place Sept. 14-17. More than thirty attended: most were laity, some married, but monks of the community were also invited and, when possible, joined some presentations; there were four priests from outside the monastery, two Cistercian monks from other monasteries and one missionary nun attending. The retreat director was Fernando Beltrán Llavador; talks were also given by Father Román Flecha, professor of moral theology at the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Dolores Rodríguez Alonso, zen practitioner, Juan Ley Harris, speaking on centering prayer, Sister Maria Luisa López Laguna, Manuel Polavieja, Fr. Francisco Rafael de Pascual, and Máximo Gálvez. Participants shared in the monastic liturgy of the abbey, and on Sunday planted seeds from various places of origin (Toledo, Salamanca, Oviedo, Guipúzcoa, Granada, Sevilla, Valencia, Santander, Japan!) in the monastery garden, accompanied by the reading of short passages from Merton, understood as seeds of contemplation. The retreat met the expectations of most of the attendants even if some felt the need for longer retreats less packed with information (which was nevertheless heartily welcomed) and with more time for silence and prayer.

The retreat sponsored by the Massachusetts Chapter took place Oct. 6-8 at the Franciscan Center, Andover, MA. The director was Walt Chura. Fourteen people attended the retreat. Responses included "A great opportunity to be close to God" and "It more than met my hopes – excellent retreat, with much time for practice (centering prayer and lectio)."

The retreat organized by the Cincinnati Chapter was also held Oct 6-8, at the Jesuit Spiritual Center, Milford, OH. The director was George Kilcourse, who gave seven presentations. Thirty people attended, eleven from the local chapter. Comments included "The presenter was superb in every way"; "Can’t say enough good things"; "Good balance of private time and presentations"; and "Liturgy very moving; just enough group interaction."

The final Merton retreat at Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, CA, sponsored by the San Diego Chapter Jan. 5-7, 2001, attracted one hundred fifty people, many of who stayed in nearby motels because the retreat house was filled to capacity. Directors were Fr. Max Oliva, SJ and Dorothy Hulbert.

Sculpture Commissioned for Bellarmine

A new sculpture of Thomas Merton will be unveiled during the ITMS Seventh General Meeting at Bellarmine University, June 7-10, 2001. To be called "The Bellarmine Merton," the sculpture is the work of David Kocka, best known to ITMS members as the creator of the "Louie," the award presented at ITMS General Meetings for outstanding contributions to the Society and to Merton studies. The slightly larger than life bronze cast sculpture will be placed just above Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, which is currently being constructed on Bellarmine’s campus.

The work was commissioned by Mrs. Lisa Scherer as a memorial to her late husband, Bob Scherer, a 1963 graduate of Bellarmine who served on both the Alumni Board and the Board of Trustees of the University. "Through his writings and teachings, Merton touched and continues to touch many people. Bob Scherer, too, touched many lives in a quiet way," said Mrs. Scherer. "I prayerfully chose to honor my husband in a way that would connect to the sacredness of the chapel area, which would be present in years to come for our family, especially the grandchildren, as well as the community Bob loved and served."

Kocka, an internationally exhibited sculptor currently residing and working in Harrison County, IN at his own Botegga Studio and Foundry, is the recipient of the International Dante Gold Medal for his piece titled "Behold Your Heart," and has been commissioned for work by more than a dozen organizations from across the country. In discussing the work, he said the sculpture will have a "subtle presence that would do homage to Merton and draw attention to the presence of the Thomas Merton Center on Bellarmine’s campus." The location of the sculpture in a wooded area near the new chapel is significant both because of its setting in nature, one of Merton’s main sources of inspiration, and its proximity to the original site of the Thomas Merton Center, in Bonaventure Hall on the Bellarmine Campus.

TMS Call for Papers

Submissions are invited for the Fourth General Meeting of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland, to be held April 5-7, 2002 at Oakham School, Rutland, UK. The theme will be "‘With the world in my bloodstream’: Thomas Merton’s Universal Embrace," taken from the title of a poem written by Merton in 1966 after surgery in which he expresses succinctly the change in his attitude to the world from "fuga mundi" to a universal embrace of all peoples and creeds.

Proposals for a variety of presentations are invited: scholarly papers as well as workshops exploring specific dimensions of Merton’s life and work. Dramatic, poetic and musical reflections on Merton would also be very welcome. Scholarly papers relating to the theme of the conference may focus on topics such as (but not limited to) Merton’s dialogues with contemporary culture, his understanding of Buddhism, his poetry, his inter-faith writings, his relationship with the English mystics, and his social thought. Proposals for scholarly papers should be designed for presentation in thirty minutes (10-12 double-spaced pages maximum).

Proposals, including an abstract of no more than 250 words should be sent prior to 30th July 2001 to: Danny Sullivan, 13 Kimber Close, Chineham, N. Basingstoke, RG24-8XZ, UK; E-mail: djs1888@yahoo.com.

Merton Center Events

On November 7, 2000, the Thomas Merton Center sponsored a talk by Jim Forest, friend of Thomas Merton and of Dorothy Day, entitled "Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day: Friends and Activists for Peace and Social Justice." Forest is the author of numerous books, including Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton, Love is the Measure: A Life of Dorothy Day, Praying with Icons and The Ladder of the Beatitudes. He is the director of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

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On December 2, 2000, the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University sponsored a program entitled "Kentucky Writers Read Thomas Merton" at the Cralle Theater on the Bellarmine campus. Presenters included Dianne Aprile, author of The Abbey of Gethsemani: Place of Peace and Paradox, and three other books; Mary Ann Carrico-Mitchell, president and co-founder of the Bluegrass of Kentucky Pen Women; Marcia Hurlow, English professor at Asbury College and author of two books of poetry; Kim Lockwood Johnson, first winner of the Kentucky Writers’ Coalition Poetry Prize; Ruthie Maslin, Director of the Kentucky Writers’ Coalition; Jonathan Montaldo, Director of the Thomas Merton Center; Dr. Thomas Oates, President of Spalding University; Dr. John Oppelt, Provost of Bellarmine University; Ron Seitz, poet and author of the memoir: Song for Nobody: A Memory Vision of Thomas Merton; Frederick Smock, Bellarmine Professor and author of the memoir: This Meadow of Time: A Provence Journal; Richard Taylor, English Professor at Kentucky State University and Kentucky’s current Poet Laureate; and Gray Zeitz, owner and operator of Larkspur Press in Monterey, KY Music was provided by Richard Burchard, Professor of Music at Bellarmine, and Bellarmine student Steve Shuff. The evening was co-produced by the Merton Center and the Kentucky Writers Coalition.

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Ten Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery, a religious group with a six-hundred year history in both Tibet and India, created a highly intricate sand mandala at the Thomas Merton Center on the campus of Bellarmine University over a four-day period, December 19-22, 2000. The public was invited to view the monks at work on the mandala. The creation of the mandala (the Sanskrit word for circle) is an ancient form of Buddhist art. In the process, millions of grains of sand dyed in an amazing array of colors are painstakingly laid into place on a 5'x5' wooden platform over a period of several days. Mandalas are created wherever a need for healing of the environment and living beings is felt. According to the monks, the mandala they made in Louisville was designed to create an atmosphere of world peace and healing for the people in the community. The mandala remained on display for public viewing until January 31, 2001, Merton’s birthday, when the monks swept up the colored sand and deposited it gently in a stream near the campus, thus demonstrating the impermanence of all that exists. This event was jointly sponsored by the Merton Center and the Kentucky Friends of Tibet, a Louisville-based organization that promotes interest in Tibetan life and culture. The monks also gave a performance of their sacred chanting, dance and theatre arts at the Cathedral of Assumption in Louisville on December 18.

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Susan Tiberghien, a Jungian scholar living in Switzerland and author of a new book from Paulist Press, Circling to the Center: One Woman’s Encounter with Silent Prayer, spoke at the Thomas Merton Center on March 8. Her topic was "Thomas Merton’s Way of Darkness."

Genesee Jubilee

The fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Cistercian Abbey of the Genesee, Piffard, NY, the fourth daughter house of Gethsemani Abbey, will be celebrated in May. On April 5, 1951, Fr. Gerard McGinley, OCSO and seven other monks left Gethsemani Abbey for their new home in upstate New York, along the Genesee River, some 35 miles south of Rochester. Upon arrival they stayed at the estate called "Waverly," owned by Porter and Gabrielle Chandler, on River Road. After one month they moved to the old Harris Farm, on the same road, which was christened as Christ the King Monastery on May 26, 1951. Subsequently the monks built the monastic complex, largely of local stone, in which the community lives today; the abbey church was dedicated in 1975 and the final additions to the monastery, the chapter room and infirmary, were completed in 1998. In 1953, at the Cistercian General Chapter, Christ the King was raised to the status of abbey and renamed Abbey of the Genesee after its location. The community has had four abbots, Frs. McGinley, Walter Helmstetter, Jerome Burke, and John Eudes Bamberger, who has been abbot for half of the monastery’s existence. On Saturday, May 26, 2001 there will be a Mass at 1:30 p.m. followed by a reception at the original monastic building, the Harris farmhouse (which has since become Bethlehem Retreat House). The program will include brief presentations by Abbot Bamberger and Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester NY.

Recent Merton Events

Marywood University, Scranton, PA held a semester-long series of special programs entitled "The Year of Thomas Merton: The Man, the Monk, the Mystic" during the Fall 2000 semester. Presentations included: Oct. 4: "Thomas Merton: An Introduction" with Christine Bochen; Oct. 11: "Thomas Merton: Personal Insights" with Richard Loomis; Oct. 16: "Thomas Merton: A Monk of our Time" with Kathleen Marjinsky; Oct. 25: "Thomas Merton: the Man, the Monk, the Mystic" with Jonathan Montaldo; Nov. 9: "Merton: A Film Biography" (video); Nov. 16: "Winter Rain: Six Images of Thomas Merton" (video); Nov. 30: "A Taste of Gethsemani" and "Women Who Knew Merton" (videos); Dec. 10: Prayer Service in Commemoration of the Death of Thomas Merton.

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On October 18, 2000 the annual Thomas Merton Lecture at Columbia University featured Rev. Brian Daley, SJ of the University of Notre Dame speaking on "Thinking in Millennia: Jubilee or Apocalypse?" The lecture, which has been held since 1978, is sponsored by the Catholic Campus Ministry at Columbia.

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On October 28, 2000, the Spanish edition of The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (Thomas Merton, Diario de Asia) was officially introduced at the Librería Hydria, a bookshop in Salamanca, Spain. Speakers included. Alejandro Sierra, the volume editor, and the translators, Fr. Francisco Rafael de Pascual and Fernando Beltrán Llavador.

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On November 21, 2000, Cristobal Serran-Pagan presented a paper entitled "A Contemplative in Action: Thomas Merton and the Civil Rights Movement in the South" in the Christian Spirituality program at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN.

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On November 28, 2000, Patrick O’Connell delivered the inaugural William H. Shannon lecture at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY. His topic was "Thomas Merton’s Vision of the Kingdom."

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On December 7, 2000, the Thomas Merton Foundation sponsored "The (Almost) Final Days of Thomas Merton: A Conversation with Harold Talbott," moderated by Dr. Bonnie Thurston. Talbott was Merton’s guide during his visit with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhists in 1968. A 70-minute video of the presentation is available for $25 (plus tax and shipping and handling). For further information call: 502-899-1952; website: www.mertonfoundation.org.

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On January 13, 2001, Elizabeth Medler gave a presentation on "Thomas Merton as Writer, Philosopher, Photographer" in Fintry, England. The talk examined Merton’s photography as well as his writing as keys to his thought.

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On February 14, 2001, Cristobal Serran-Pagan presented a paper entitled "Thomas Merton and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Martyrdom of Love" at Coker College, Hartsville, SC.

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On February 17, 2001, Cristobal Serran-Pagan presented a lecture on "Thomas Merton’s Thoughts on Mohandas K. Gandhi: A Contemplative Approach to the Spiritual Path of Action" at Coastal Carolina University, sponsored by the South Carolina Academy of Religion.

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A Thomas Merton Symposium was held at Mitchell Community College, Statesville, NC, February 23-24, 2001. Speakers included Merton biographer Michael Mott, poet Dana Gioia, and Merton Center Director Jonathan Montaldo.

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Patrick O’Connell present a series of five lectures entitled "The Vision of Thomas Merton" February 28-March 3, 2001 at the Milltown Institute of Theology, Dublin, Ireland.

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On March 21 and 28, 2001, Walt Chura presented a two-part Lenten talk at Holy Family parish, Manhattan on Thomas Merton, focusing on his book Life and Holiness.

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On March 23, Rev. Michael Callaghan gave a presentation entitled "Owen, Tom, and Oscar Claude: Landscapes of Destiny" in the "Journals and Geographies" session of the Midwest Conference on Christianity and Literature at the Union League Club, Chicago, IL.

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Walt Chura presented a four-session series April 4-23 on "Merton and Dominus Jesus," at St. Francis Chapel, Albany, NY.

Upcoming Events

Thomas More College Crestview Hills, KY, is offering a non-credit course led by Vicki Cimprich entitled "A Merton Journaling Odyssey" in which Merton’s journals will serve as models for personal journaling. The course will run for six Saturdays; April 21- May 26. For information, call 859-344-3333; email: cheryl.varner@thomasmore.edu.

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Fr. Patrick Collins will lead a study day on "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton" for the Roncalli Society, Saturday, April 28, 2001, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Peoria, IL. For further information, contact: pcollins@sirus.com or hoerr@ix.netcom.com.

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On May 17, 2001, Walt Chura will present a talk on "Merton and Interreligious Dialogue," as part of the Spring Enrichment Program of the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Catholic Diocese of Albany. For information, call: 518-453-6630.

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Robert Waldron, author of Poetry as Prayer: Thomas Merton, will conduct a Merton Retreat at St. Stephen's Priory, Dover, Massachusetts on May 18-20, 2001. The theme is "Merton and the Way of Poetry." For further information, phone: 508-785-0124; email: ststephenpriory.org.

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Fr. Patrick Collins will direct a retreat on "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton" May 18-20, 2001, at the Benedictine Center, Schuyler, NE. For further information, contact Father Thomas: benedict.center@alltel.net.

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Fr. Patrick Collins will direct a retreat on "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton" June 10-15 at the Maria Stein Center, OH. For further information, email: ekammerer@bright.net.

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The Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, is offering a course on Merton’s Journals, with Victor Kramer, June 10-16. For further information call: 334-380-3094 or email: grad @shc.edu.

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Fr. Francis Kelly Nemeck, OMI and Sr. Marie Theresa Coombs will lead a 40-day desert experience based on the principles of St. John of the Cross and Thomas Merton June 21-July 31 at the Lebh Shomea House of Prayer, Sarita, TX. For further information, phone: 435-748-2230; email:pwellhome @juno.com.

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Fr. Patrick Collins will direct a retreat on "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton" June 22-28 at Bethany Retrat House, Highland Mills, NY. For further information, phone: 845-928-2213; email: thevenet @frontiernet.net.

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The Sixth Annual Peace and Social Justice Institute at Rivier College, Nashua, NH, entitled "Living Justice, Building Peace," will be held June 24-29, 2001. Topics will include nonviolence, Catholic social teaching, and the lives of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Presenters include John Dear, SJ, Thomas Massaro, SJ, Megan McKenna and Jim Forest. The institute can be attended on a credit or non-credit basis. For further information phone: 603-897-8481 or email: jannis @rivier.edu.

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Donald Grayston will present a course entitled "Thomas Merton and the East: Passing Over and Coming Back" July 9-13 at the Vancouver School of Theology, focusing on Merton’s exploration of Asian traditions. For further information call: 604-822-9815; email: ci @vst.edu.

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Fr. Patrick Collins will teach a graduate theology course on "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton" July 16-August 3, St. Michael's College, Winooski, VT. For further information contact: emahoney@smcvt.edu.

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Sr. Barbara Metz will lead a retreat entitled "Guided by the Mystics" July 30-Aug. 4 at King’s House Retreat Center, Belleville, IL. The retreat will focus on the spirituality of Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Etty Hillesum and Jessica Powers. For further information, phone: 800-779-7909; email: knghsebv @peaknet.net.

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Wayne Simsic will direct a retreat on Thomas Merton August 5-11 at the Villa Maria Retreat Center, Villa Maria, PA. For further information, phone: 724-964-8920, ext. 3241.

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Lynn Szabo will present a course on Thomas Merton focusing on representative literary writings, August 13-17, at Hill Haven Retreat Centre, Abbotsford, BC; credit is available through Trinity Western University. For information, phone: 604-513-2067; email: TWest @twu.ca.

Chapter News

The Capital Region (Albany, NY) Chapter of the ITMS now has its own website that includes information on Merton and on chapter activities (www.mertonalbany.org). The group took a Walking Tour of Merton's Manhattan on September 24, 2000. The Merton Reading Group meets the third Thursday of every month. On April 19, 2001 the group continued its discussion of Merton’s The Way of Chuang Tzu. Members of the group also meet weekly for centering prayer at the chapel of the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Albany. The fifth Annual Silent Retreat is scheduled for Sept. 7-9, 2001 at Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY. For further information contact Walt Chura: wwchura @localnet.com.

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The Chicago Chapter recently celebrated its tenth anniversary with a pot-luck supper on December 12, 2000. Chapter members visited the Abbey of Gethsemani Nov. 3-5, 2000. Fall meetings focused on discussion of The Intimate Merton. The chapter is sponsoring a series of four lectures entitled "An Introduction to Thomas Merton" with Fr. Vaughn Fayle, OMI, on the first Sunday of each month (Feb.-May) at the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago. For further information contact Gail Wallace at 815-933-4355.

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At its February Meeting, the Cincinnati Chapter discussed the topic: "Merton on Evil" led by Barbara Stratman. The group continued discussing the same topic at its March meeting. For further information contact Tony Russo, trusso@fuse.net.

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At its monthly meetings the Capitol University Chapter (Columbus, OH) is continuing its study series on The Ascent to Truth, led by David Belcastro. For further information contact Nancy Moore, 614-815-8160.

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The Iona College Chapter of the ITMS will hold its inaugural meeting Friday April 20, 2001, featuring Joseph Cunneen, former editor of Cross Currents, addressing "Merton and Interreligious Dialogue," in conversation with Iona students. The impetus for the new chapter came from the course entitled "The Spiritual Legacy of Thomas Merton," taught (in three sections of about 40 students each during the Spring semester!) by Iona Spirituality Institute Director Sr. Kathleen Deignan, SND. For further information contact Kathleen Deignan, email: kdeignan@iona.edu.

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A new chapter of the ITMS has formed at Corpus Christi Parish, Manhattan, site of Merton’s baptism. Approximately 35 people attended the first meeting held Sept. 23, 2000, and heard Marcia Kelly, niece of Robert Lax, speak on the friendship of Lax and Merton. On Nov. 3, Fr. Raymond Rafferty, Corpus Christi pastor, spoke on his recent visit to Merton’s birthplace, Prades, and the neighboring abbey of St. Michel de Cuxa. Groups within the chapter are reading The Seven Storey Mountain and Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. For further information contact Brenda Fairaday, 212-865-7261.

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The February meeting of the Mississippi Chapter featured a discussion of Merton’s book The Silent Life. The chapter continues to raise money for leper colonies in the Brazilian Amazon. For further information contact John Staggs at 662-538-6042, email: merton @netdoor.com.

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At the October meeting of the Rochester, NY Chapter, Pat O’Connell led a discussion of The Selected Poems of Thomas Merton. For further information, contact Kay McGowan, 196 Gregory Hill Road, Rochester, NY 14620.

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At the November meeting of the South West Florida Chapter, Anne Coyle reported on her attendance at Robert Giroux’s talk, "The Thomas Merton I Knew," in Washington, DC. Discussion of Merton’s writings continued at the group’s January and March meetings. For further information contact Anne Coyle, 436 Harbor Drive So., Venice, FL 34285.

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Featured speakers at the monthly meetings of the British Columbia chapter include Ross Labrie on ""The Image of the Child in Merton’s Writings" (April); Patrick O’Connell on "Thomas Merton’s Vision of the Kingdom" (May); Susan McCaslin on "Merton and Blake: The Heretic Without and the Heretic Within" (June). The talks are on Tuesday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church, 1012 Nelson Street in downtown Vancouver. For further information, contact Judith Hardcastle at 683-4574, local 110 or e-mail at hdcastle@intergate.bc.ca.

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The Thomas Merton Society of Washington, DC sponsored a presentation on October 28, 2000 at St. Anselm’s Abbey by Robert Giroux, editor and friend of Thomas Merton, entitled "The Thomas Merton I Knew." For more information contact Mary K. Stanford at 301-320-4778.

    Send all Merton-related news to:
    Pat O’Connell
    Box 3219
    Gannon University,  Erie,  PA 16541
    Email:
oconnell001@gannon.edu

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