International Thomas Merton Society


                    Vol. 12, No. 2                                  Fall, 2005

Ninth General Meeting a Success

     “Revelation of Justice – Revolution of Love: Thomas Merton’s Message for a New Millennium” was the theme of the ITMS Ninth General Meeting, held June 9-12, 2005 at the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA.  More than 250 people attended the conference, the first to be held on the west coast of the United States.

     Major presentations included the Springboard Address by Rev. Jim Wallis, the Keynote Address by Rev. John Dear, SJ, and General Session addresses by Sr. Jose Hobday, Mother Antonia Brenner, and Rabbi Michael Lerner.  Erlinda Paguio delivered the presidential address.  A Roundtable on Merton and Czeslaw Milosz, moderated by David Belcastro, featured Paul Contino, Robert Faggen and Lillian Vallee.  An interfaith prayer service incorporated reflections by three of Merton’s former students, Abbot John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO, Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, and James Finley.  Also featured was a performance of the complete John Jacob Niles-Thomas Merton Song Cycle, with pianist Jacqueline Chew and vocalists Chad Runyon and Jody Black, and a play by Mike Jennings entitled Letters from the Front: The Merton-Day Correspondence, with John Alexander as Thomas Merton and Mimi Ventresca as Dorothy Day.  Music was provided throughout the conference by Schola Ministties, led by Kathleen Deignan, CND.  The conference also included six introductory focus sessions and twenty-three concurrent sessions, workshops and performances featuring thirty-seven presenters.

     The site coordinators for the general meeting were Dorothy Hulbert and Patricia Hulbert.  The Program Committee was chaired by Jonathan Montaldo and included Christine Bochen, Kathleen Deignan, CND, Robert Grip, Dorothy Hulbert, Patricia Hulbert, Patrick O’Connell, ITMS President Erlinda Paguio, and Paul Pearson.

     At the ITMS Town Meeting on Friday afternoon of the conference, ITMS President Erlinda Paguio announced that the ITMS Tenth General Meeting will take place June 7-10, 2007 at Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee.  Erlinda Paguio will chair the Program Committee and Gray Matthews will serve as Site Coordinator; other members of the committee include Christine Bochen, Paul Dekar, Dorothy Hulbert, Patrick O’Connell, ITMS President Paul Pearson, and Mary Somerville.

New Officers and Board

    The Officers and Board of Directors of the ITMS for 2005-2007 were announced by outgoing president Erlinda Paguio during the ITMS Ninth General Meeting at the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA. In accordance with the ITMS by-laws, the officers were elected by the Board and the members of the Board by the membership at large, from slates prepared by the ITMS nominating committee, Bonnie Thurston (chair), Edward Farley and Judith Hunter.
    Officers are Paul M. Pearson, president; Donald Grayston, vice-president; Donna Kristoff, OSU, secretary; and Mary R. Somerville, treasurer. Newly elected members of the Board are: Edward J. Farley and Gray Matthews; returning members are Kathleen Deignan, CND, Paul Quenon, OCSO, Virginia Ratigan, and Lynn R. Szabo; as immediate past president, Erlinda Paguio will also continue to serve as a voting member of the Board.
    Paul M. Pearson is director and archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, the principal repository of Merton’s papers, and serves as resident secretary of the ITMS. He is editor, most recently, of Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers by Thomas Merton.
    Donald Grayston is a priest and pastor of the Anglican Church of Canada, and recently retired from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. He is author of Thomas Merton: The Development of a Spiritual Theologian, and editor of Thomas Merton’s Rewritings.
    Donna Kristoff, OSU is the director of the Cleveland Chapter of the ITMS, and a former ITMS Board member. She is an artist who has contributed logos for ITMS general meetings, and writes and speaks frequently on Merton and art.
    Mary Somerville is former director of the Miami-Dade Public Library and former president of the American Library Association. She chaired the Archive and Libraries Committee of the Thomas Merton Foundation and is an active member of the Louisville Chapter of the ITMS.
    Erlinda Paguio is Associate Director of Development Research at the University of Louisville and served as ITMS treasurer for three terms (1993-1999) as well as being the ninth president of the ITMS. She has published widely on Merton and medieval mystics and Merton and Islam.
    Kathleen Deignan, CND, a current member of the ITMS Board, is founder and director of the Spirituality Institute at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY. She is the editor of When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature by Thomas Merton (2003) and director of Schola Ministries, a liturgical music group.
    Edward Farley has been coordinator of the ITMS Chapters since 1993. A retired school administrator, he is director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the ITMS, has regularly presented the ITMS Chapters Workshop during ITMS General Meetings, and has served as a member of the ITMS Nominating Committee in 2004 and previous years. He received the ITMS “Louie” Award in 2001 for his service to the Society.
    Gray Matthews is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Memphis, and coordinator of the Memphis Chapter of the ITMS. He will be serving as site coordinator for the Tenth General Meeting of the ITMS to be held in Memphis in 2007.
    Paul Quenon, OCSO is a monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he was a novice under Thomas Merton, and a current member of the ITMS Board. A photographer and poet, he is author of Terrors of Paradise and most recently of Laughter, My Purgatory, and coeditor of the new monastic magazine Monkscape.
    Virginia Ratigan is coordinator of the ITMS Daggy Scholars program and a current ITMS Board member. She has lectured widely on Thomas Merton, Women in Religious Life, and Christian Spirituality. She was director of the Daggy Scholars retreats, held at Gethsemani during 2002 and 2004.
    Lynn Szabo, a former Shannon Fellow, teaches English literature and creative writing at Trinity Western University in British Columbia. Currently a member of the board of both the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and the ITMS, she is the editor of the recently published In the Dark before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton.
    ITMS President Paul Pearson also announced that ITMS members from six countries will serve the Society as International Advisors for 2005-2007. They are Fernando Beltrán Llavador, Salamanca, Spain; Krzysztof Bielawski, Kraków, Poland; Detlev Cuntz, Ehlscheid, Germany; Dirk Doms, Bruges, Belgium; Gary P. Hall, Birmingham, England; and Raymond J. Schmack, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    The following appointments as chairs of ITMS standing committees have also been made: David Belcastro will continue to head the Shannon Fellowship committee; Virginia Ratigan and Cristobal Serran-Pagan will continue to co-chair the Daggy Scholarship committee; Robert Grip will chair the Membership Committee; Patrick O’Connell will chair the Publications Committee; Lynn Szabo will continue to chair the Retreat Committee. Tony Russo will become the new ITMS Chapters Coordinator. Former Daggy Scholar David Golemboski will serve as young adult representative to the ITMS Board.

Louies Awarded

     The 2005 Thomas Merton Awards, informally known as “Louies,” were presented by outgoing ITMS President Erlinda G. Paguio on June 12, 2005 at the conclusion of the ITMS Ninth General Meeting at the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA.  The award is a bronze bust of Thomas Merton created by sculptor David Kocka.  This year’s awards were given to Victor A. Kramer for his long-time work as editor of The Merton Annual and to Bonnie Thurston for her distinguished service to the ITMS.

     Victor A. Kramer is a retired professor of English at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and former director of the Aquinas Center at Emory University in Atlanta.  With his wife Dewey, he was a founding member of the International Thomas Merton Society and is a former ITMS Board Member.  He was a founding editor of The Merton Annual in 1988 and has continued to edit the journal up to the present.  He is author of Thomas Merton: Monk and Artist.

     Bonnie Thurston is a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and formerly professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, now living in solitude in West Virginia.  She is a founding member of the ITMS, and has served as its first secretary, as a board member, vice president and third president of the society.  She has written and spoken widely on Merton, particularly on his dialogue with other religious traditions.   She is author of numerous books, including Women in the New Testament and Spiritual Life in the Early Church.

Shannon Fellowship Awarded

     At the June meeting of the ITMS Board of Directors, President Erlinda Paguio announced the name of the winner of the 2005-2006 fellowship, Rev. Dr. William Mangrum, whose research will take a close look at Merton’s middle years with particular attention to Thoughts in Solitude.  Dr. Mangrum is head of staff at Mendocino Presbyterian Church, Mendocino, CA.   

     The Shannon Fellowship program was established in 1997 in honor of the founding president of the ITMS to promote scholarship on Merton and his work.  Up to five annual awards, of a maximum of $750 each, are granted to scholars for research on primary-source Merton materials at the Merton Center at Bellarmine University or other archival collections.  This year’s selection committee includes David Belcastro, chair; Robert Inchausti; and Donna Kristoff, OSU.

     The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2006-2007 is March 15, 2006.  Awards must be used between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007.  Awards will be based on the quality of the proposal submitted and on the need for consulting archival materials at the site proposed.  Applicants must be members of the ITMS; they may join the Society at the time of application by including a check for $25, made out to “ITMS”, along with their proposals.  Current officers and Board members of the ITMS, as well as grant committee members, are not eligible for fellowships during their term of office.

     Application for Shannon Fellowships must include the following:

·         a detailed proposal of 500-750 words explaining the subject and goals of the applicant’s research and the rationale for consulting primary sources at the Merton collection selected by the applicant;

·         a letter of recommendation from a scholar familiar with the applicant’s qualifications and research interests;

·         a proposed expense budget: grants will cover costs of travel to and from collections; expenses for accommodations and food during time of research at archives; costs of photocopying;

·         disclosure of any other sources of funding awarded or applied for, with amounts received or requested.

     Applications are encouraged from established scholars, from researchers without academic affiliation, and from students and younger scholars, including those engaged in research for theses and dissertations.

     Completed applications for fellowships should be sent to the Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY 40051; email:  The committee’s decisions will be announced to the ITMS Board of Directors at their June, 2006 meeting and will be communicated to applicants shortly thereafter.

Daggy Scholarships Awarded

     Eighteen young people were able to attend the ITMS Ninth General Meeting at the University of San Diego as recipients of Daggy Youth Scholarships.  These awards, in honor of the late Robert E. Daggy, long-time Director of the Bellarmine University Merton Center and resident secretary and second president of the ITMS, cover all registration, room and board expenses for attendance at ITMS General Meetings, and include a year’s free ITMS membership. 

     This year’s recipients included: Laura Bentivegna, a student at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY; Ruth Dantzer, a recent graduate of Naropa University, Boulder, CO; Patrick Cousins, SC, a student in the University of Notre Dame Summer MA Program and a staff member of Sr. Michael’s Indian School, St. Michael’s, AZ; Sara Gower, a 2005 graduate of Assumption College, Worcester, MA; David Golemboski, a student at the University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, who was also a presenter at the conference; Colleen Halligan, a student at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY; Michael Herron, a student at St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY; Mary Iarocci, a student at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY; Kimberly Kennedy, a student at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY; Kerry Kraska, a student at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY; Kevin Macikowski, a 2005 graduate of Nazareth College, Rochester, NY; Mark Murray, a recent graduate of Davidson College, Davidson, SC; Andrea Neuhoff, a 2005 graduate of Reed College, Portland, OR; Robert Peach, a 2005 graduate of LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA; Daniel Potocki, a current student at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY; Katie Schroeder, a current student at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY; Timothy Shafer, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Olean, NY and currently a graduate student at the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH; Rachel Werenski, a former Jesuit Volunteer in Belize currently working with the L’Arche community in Washington, DC.

Abbot Basil Pennington, OCSO (1931-2005)

    Basil Pennington, OCSO, retired Cistercian abbot and prolific author, died June 3, 2005 as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident on March 29, 2005.  Robert Pennington was born July 28, 1931 in New York, and entered St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA on June 18, 1951 and was given the name Basil.  He took his first vows July 26, 1953 and was ordained a priest December 21, 1957.  He studied both theology and canon law in Rome and taught these subjects at Spencer, where he also served for a number of years as vocation director.  At his initiative, Cistercian Publications was begun in 1968 to publish translations of the Cistercian Fathers in English and other studies in the areas of monastic life and spirituality; he also organized the First International Cistercian Studies Symposium, held at Spencer in 1970, the first of a series of similar meetings currently hosted each year in conjunction with the annual International Medieval Studies Congress at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.  In the 1970s he became interested in the Centering Prayer movement, first taught at Spencer by Fr. William Meninger and Abbot Thomas Keating.  Among his most popular books have been Daily We Touch Him and Centering Prayer, both of which focus on this type of prayer.  Fr. Pennington’s extensive travels included an extended visit to the Greek Orthodox monastic colony at Mount Athos and periods of time at Cistercian abbeys in the Philippines and on Lantao Island, near Hong Kong.  In February 2000 he was named temporary superior at Assumption Abbey in Ava, MO, and in August of that year he was elected Abbot of the Cistercian Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia.  In May 2002 he resigned as abbot and returned to Spencer, where he lived for the rest of his life.  He was buried at St Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer on June 8.  Abbot Pennington was a prolific author, with more than forty books and hundreds of articles and reviews to his credit.  He was a friend and correspondent of Thomas Merton, and among his many books were Thomas Merton, Brother Monk: The Quest for True Freedom (1987), A Retreat with Thomas Merton (1988) (reprinted as Engaging the World with Merton [2004]), a collection of his articles, Thomas Merton – My Brother: His Journey into Freedom, Compassion and Final Integration (1996), and a collection of articles on Merton which he edited, Toward an Integrated Humanity (1988); his anthology of writings by Merton, I Have Seen What I Was Looking For: Selected Spiritual Writings has been issued posthumously.

Monsignor Alfred Horrigan (1914-2005)

     Monsignor Alfred F. Horrigan, the founding president of Bellarmine College (now University) in Louisville, KY, who was principally responsible for establishing at Bellarmine the Thomas Merton Center, the principal repository of Merton’s papers, died August 23, 2005 at Nazareth Home in Louisville, near the Bellarmine campus.  A native of Wilmington, DE, he was raised in Louisville, graduated from St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, and was ordained a priest in 1940.  He earned his doctorate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington in 1944.  He was named a monsignor by Pope Pius XII in 1955.  Msgr. Horrigan led the college for twenty-years, from its founding in 1949 until 1972.  He later became pastor of his childhood parish, St. James in Louisville, and also served as editor of the Catholic paper of the archdiocese, The Record.  He was well known in Louisville and throughout the region as a human rights advocate; in 2003 he was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.  Msgr. Horrigan tells the story of the beginnings of the Thomas Merton Center in his contribution to The Thomas Merton Studies Center (Unicorn Press, 1971).  Memorial gifts in honor of Msgr. Horrigan may be made to the endowment fund of Our Lady of the Woods Chapel at Bellarmine, or to the Thomas Merton Center.

Guilty Bystander Conference

      A conference entitled “Guilty Bystander: Thomas Merton and Moral Reflection in the Professions” will be held March 10-11, 2006 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Bellarmine Ethics and Social Justice Center and The Thomas Merton Center.  Keynote Speakers include Dr. Thomas Del Prete, Sr. Elaine Prevallet, SL, and Dr. Michael Sobocinski.

     Concurrent session presentations include: : Joseph Allegretti: “The Relevance of Thomas Merton’s Concept of Vocation for Professionals such as Lawyers and Doctors”; Claire Badaracco: “Beyond Image and Emotion: Critical Thinking about Moral Responsibility in Media Education”; Ted Bergh: “Transforming ‘Death’ through Joblessness”; Daniel Bogert-O’Brien: “Merton and Illich: The Making of a Religious Counter-culture”; Nass Cannon: “Encountering Merton: Encountering Myself – Thomas Merton and Healing”; John Cronin: “The Other Bystander”; Ellyn Crutcher: “My journey of Experiences . . . and the Inspiration I have Drawn from Merton’s Writing”; Bob Deahl and Stephanie Russell: “The Ways in Which Merton Has Influenced Our Approach to the World from Both a Personal, Individual Perspective as well as from a Communal, Community Perspective”; Paul R. Dekar: “Creating Communities of Learning: Merton and Pedagogy”; Joan Combs Durso: “Teaching Business in Merton-Haunted Halls”; Robert Scott Gassler: “Kenneth Boulding as Guilty Perpetrator: A Comparison with Thomas Merton”; Dave Golomboski: “Merton and Youth”; Fred Herron: “‘Light Travels on a Two-Way Street’: Catholic School Administrators in the Present Crisis”;   Judith Hunter: “There is No Solution in Withdrawal, No Solution in Conforming”; Marc Jolley: “Seeds of Academic Publishing: How Thomas Merton Affects My Vocation”; Jim Marley: “Convening Hope and the Imaginative Construction of Community”; Gray Matthews: “A Reflective Revolution:  On Taking a Contemplative Approach to Communication Education”; Gerry McMahon: “The Spiritual Imperative and Its Relations to Nonviolent Social Protest”; Mark C. Meade: “Zen and the Nerds of Megabyte:  Conjectures of a Savvy Web Surfer”; Mark E. Mitchell: “Doing Justice and Loving Kindness: Why Thomas Merton Won’t Let Me Practice Law the Way I Used To”;  Mary Harter Mitchell: “Moral Engagement and Teaching Law”; Ken P. Novak: “Merton and the Military Speechwriter”;  John Olesnavage: “Thomas Merton and His Pursuit of Boundary Truth”; Paul M. Pearson: “Innocent Bystander – Guilty Bystander: Thomas Merton’s Monastic Option”; Pam Proietti: “Can the Sinful and Corrupted Christian Seek the Kingdom of God in a Fallen World?”; Gregory F. Splinter: “Design Through Contemplation”; Herman Sutter: “How Do We Know? Merton and Dostoevsky and the Question of God”; Clayton Thomason: “Professional Virtue and the Root of Inner Wisdom.”

     The cost of the conference, including registration, refreshments and the conference dinner on March 10 and lunch on March 11, is $125 ($100 for students with a photocopy of a valid student ID); registration after February 20, 2006 is $150.  Checks, payable to “Merton Ethics Conference,” should be sent to: Dr. Paul M. Pearson, Merton Ethics Conference, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville. KY 40205.  More information, including a registration form, can be found at:

TMS Conference Program Set

     The Sixth General Meeting and Conference of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland will be held March 31-April 2, 2006 at Oakham School, Oakham, Rutland, England.  The conference theme is “Beyond the Shadow and the Disguise: Exploring Thomas Merton’s Spiritual Experience and Religious Insight.”  Keynote Speakers will be Kathleen Deignan, CND, “Within the Shadow and Disguise – Thomas Merton’s Sacramental Universe”; Paul M. Pearson, “Thomas Merton’s Embrace of the Divine Logos”; and Monica Weis, SSJ, “The Birds Ask: Is It Time To ‘Be’? Merton’s Moments of Spiritual Awakening.”  Also making general session presentations are Joanne Flynn, “Silence Is an Interfaith Land: A Presentation and Led Meditation,” and Robert Waldron, “Thomas Merton’s Prufrockian Moment Transcended: A Journey towards Love.”  The program will also include an address at the conference dinner by TMS President, Canon A. M. Allchin, entertainment during the conference by Gracenotes and worship sessions including Sunday Eucharist.

     Concurrent session presentations include: William Apel, “There Comes A Time: The Inter-faith Letters of Thomas Merton and Dona Luisa Coomaraswamy”; Ann Taylor-Cahill, “Merton in the Marketplace”; Sean Cathie, “Broken Identities and Signals of Transcendence in a Secular Dialogue”; Larry Culliford, “Merton, Christianity, Buddhism and Me: With Reference to Shantideva”; Jim Hartz, “The Radicalization of St. Paul – in Merton’s Last Words: Cutting through the Warfare of ‘This’ vs. ‘That’; Judith Hunter, “The Mim Tea Estate, the Kandy Express and Polonnaruwa”; Gosia Poks, “The Late Poetry of Thomas Merton”; Herman Sutter, “Merton and Dostoevsky and the Question of God.”  Workshops include: Fred and Michael Herron, “A World-embracing Prophet: Towards a Theological and Spiritual Vision for Millennials,” and Elizabeth Smith, “Centering Prayer Method, as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating OCSO.

     Cost of the conference is £175 for members of the TMS or ITMS, £185 for non-members.  For further information contact Audrey Chamberlain, 40 Alexandra Road, Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO53 2BN; email:    

Saving the Olean Cottage

   The Lax Family cottage at Rock City in Olean, NY, where Thomas Merton, Robert Lax and their Columbia University friends spent their summers, as Merton relates in The Seven Storey Mountain, is in need of financial assistance.  According to Marcia Marcus Kelly, the niece of Robert Lax, the cottage was sold some years ago to family friends who used the property to erect a radio tower; however the property has since changed hands and the current owner, Back Yard Broadcasting, has no interest in or use for the cottage.  “Although the interior is still in fine shape,” she notes, “the exterior is slowly deteriorating, the screened porch forlorn, the grounds overgrown.”  St. Bonaventure University has indicated an interest in the past in taking over the property, if there were an endowment to provide income for its upkeep.  “This seems to be the time to let readers know of this opportunity to save the cottage,” Mrs. Kelly writes.  “Any creative way, from an endowment, to a purchase for the Merton Trust, to a personal purchase as a combination vacation retreat and historic treasure, might work.”  To receive more information or to suggest possible solutions, contact Marcia Marcus Kelly at or (716) 474-5791.

ITMS Authors

    Paul R. Dekar has recently published Creating the Beloved Community: A Journey with the Fellowship of Reconcilation, a history of the oldest interfaith peace organization, which Thomas Merton joined in the 1960s.  It is copublished by Cascadia Publishing House and Herald Press ($23.95 paper).       

     Bonnie Thurston has recently written the commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in vol. 10 of the Sacra Pagina series: Philippians, Philemon (Liturgical Press, 2005); Liturgical Press is also bringing out her new book, Religious Vows, the Sermon on the Mount, and Christian Living in November; two earlier books, Women in the New Testament and To Everything a Season, are now back in print and available from Wipf and Stock Publishers in Eugene, OR.

Call for Papers/Presentations

     The Thomas Merton Society of Canada invites proposals for papers and other forms of presentation for a conference to be held on Saturday, March 4, 2006, at Canadian Memorial Church & Centre for Peace, Vancouver, BC, Canada. The conference will open the pevious evening with a keynote address from Mel Hurtig. The theme of the conference, “Climate of Fear / Commitment to Peace,” has been chosen in response to the recognition of the truth of Thomas Merton’s statement that “the root of war is fear.”  Proposals, either in 45-minute or 90-minute format, should be designed to provide conference participants with an opportunity to respond in a spiritual way to the many fears which presently afflict our society: fears of terrorism, nuclear weapons, global warming, the depletion of natural resources, the rending of the social fabric, etc. In submitting proposals, potential presenters are encouraged to explore and make creative use of the writings and thought of Thomas Merton.  Proposals may be submitted electronically to Judith Hardcastle, program director of the TMSC ( Deadline is November 15, 2005.

     The Vancouver conference is intended as the first of a series, all on the same theme, to be sponsored by the TMSC, usually in co-operation with a partner organization, in a number of centres across Canada, between March and November, 2006.  Sites being considered include Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.  For further information on this national project, or to suggest venues, contact Judith Hardcastle at the above email address or at 604-669-2546.  Once dates and venues have been established, a further call for papers/presentations will be issued.

Merton Pilgrimages Scheduled

     Two pilgrimages to sites closely associated with the life of Thomas Merton, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, are currently being planned.  On January 9-16, 2006 the “Thomas Merton in Cuba” study-tour will retrace Merton’s 1940 itinerary when he visited Havana, Matanzas, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre.  The options are a one-week stay (study tour only), or a two-week stay (study-tour followed by a vacation week), both on charter flights from Vancouver or Toronto.  Leaders of the pilgrimage will be Anna Baignoche, ITMS vice president Donald Grayston, and Judith Hardcastle.  On May 18-28, 2006, the “Thomas Merton in France” pilgrimage will spend ten days in Prades, France, where Merton was born.  The tour will include visits to St. Antonin and Montauban, where Merton spent part of his childhood.  Participants will join in seminar discussions on central themes of Merton’s work – contemplation, non-violence, and interfaith encounter.  The program is intended for new and longtime lovers of Thomas Merton and his writings.  Leaders of the pilgrimage will be Kathleen Deignan, CND, Jim Forest, and Judith Hardcastle.  For further information contact see the TMSC website: or email:

New Merton Documentary

     Preparations are underway for the production of Silent Lamp, a documentary based on Thomas Merton’s views on contemplation and contemplative life.  Psychologist and director Arthur Giacalone seeks to go beyond a biographical perspective by introducing the viewer to Merton’s most seminal wisdom on contemplation, including The Inner Experience.  More information on the project is available at or by contacting Dr. Giacalone at

Merton Happenings

    An exhibit of photographs by Thomas Merton entitled “Schnitt Weise: Aus dem Fotografischen Werk von Thomas Merton” was held March 15-May 15 at the University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

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     On August 14-19, 2005, Sr. Dr. Michaela Pheifer, OCist led a workshop/retreat on “Cistercian Spirituality and the Monastic Writer Thomas Merton” at the Abbey of Marienkron, Austria.

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     On September 2-4, 2005, Wolfgang Thon and Dr. Otto Zsok directed a retreat entitled “What Do Thomas Merton and Viktor E. Frankl Mean to Modern Men and Women?” at Oberschönenfeld Abbey, Germany.

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     On September 28, 2005, Frater M. Charles Brandt, ERM gave a presentation at the University of Victoria, Victoria, BC on “Thomas Merton, Zen and Merton’s Relationship with the Natural World.” 

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     On September 30-October 2, 2005 Bonnie Thurston directed a Thomas Merton Contemplative Prayer Weekend at Sandscrest Episcopal Conference Center, Wheeling, WV.

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     Dr. Paul M. Pearson, director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, is presenting a 5-week introduction to the life and thought of Thomas Merton entitled “Thomas Merton: Poet, Monk, Artist, Prophet,” October 3, 10, 17, 24 and November 7, sponsored by the Bellarmine University Department of Continuing Education.

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     An exhibition entitled “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” was held August 26–September 30 at the Sauder Visual Arts Center, Grace Albrecht Gallery, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio.  The exhibition will be shown at the Brincka Gallery, Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, IN from December 10, 2005 through February 26, 2006.

Upcoming Events

    On October 29, 2005 Bonnie Thurston will present “An Introduction to Thomas Merton” at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse & Spirituality Center, Wheeling, WV.  For further information contact Sr. Mary Clark,

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     On November 3, 2005, Father James Martin, SJ will present a lecture entitled “Writing the True Self: Insights from the Lives of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen” at 7 p.m. in the Cralle Theatre, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. The event is free and open to the public.

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     On November 5, 2005, the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland and Pax Christi are co-sponsoring a day-long conference entitled “Making Peace in a Post-Christian Era” at the Sion Center for Dialogue and Encounter, Chepstow Villas, Notting Hill, London.  Speakers include Valerie Flessati, Fr. Gerry McFlynn and Fr. Anthony Maggs.  Cost for the day is £12.00 For further information visit the TMS website at:

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     A presentation entitled “I’d Rather Teach Peace with Thomas Merton” by Colman McCarthy will be held November 6, 2005 in Frazier Hall on the campus of Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

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     On November 14 & 15, 2005, Bonnie Thurston will deliver two lectures at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada: “Thomas Merton and Buddhism” and “Thomas Merton and Islam.”  For further information contact Professor Douglas Shantz:

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     On December 7, 2005, Donald Grayston will make a presentation entitled “On the Trail of the Jesus Lama: Thomas Merton in Asia” at the Cralle Theater, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

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     On March 15, 2006 Bonnie Thurston will give a presentation on “Thomas Merton & the Desert” at the Spiritan Center, Bethel Park, PA.  For further information contact Mary Ann Nicholls: ; website:

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     On March 19, 2006, Abbot John Eudes Bamberger will speak on “The Impact of Thomas Merton on Monastic Life” at the Cralle Theater, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

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     The Spring 2006 Merton Elderhostel will be held March 12-17, 2006 at Bellarmine University. For further details contact Linda Bailey on (502) 452 8161 or by e-mail:

Chapter News

     The Capital Region (NY) Chapter of the ITMS held its tenth annual Thomas Merton Contemplative Retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, NY September 9-11, under the direction of Walt Chura, SFO.  For further information contact Walt Chura, 518-456-3201;

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     The Chicago Chapter of the ITMS is sponsoring a lecture-discussion series entitled “Thomas Merton and the Rediscovered Self,” led by Dr. Vaughn J. Fayle at the Priory Campus of Dominican University in River Forest, IL.  The first talk, entitled “Merton and the Journey of the Self,” was held Sept. 18; the second, “Merton and the Addicted Self ,” took place Oct. 16; the final presentation, “Merton and the Spiritual Self,” will be given Nov. 20. For further information, contact Mike Brennan at 773-447-3989, or email:

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     On September 24, 2005, the Corpus Christi (New York City) Chapter of the ITMS sponsored a presentation by Roger Lipsey on “Thomas Merton, Visual Artist,”  a preview of a forthcoming book on Merton's abstract drawings of the 1960s.  On Saturday, November 5, the chapter will offer a full-day Retreat at Corpus Christi, facilitated by Gerard Straub, President of the San Damiano Foundation.

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     On March 24-26, 2005 the Denver Chapter of the ITMS will host a retreat on “Thomas Merton and Islam” directed by Bonnie Thurston.  For further information contact Sr. Rose Annette Liddell, SL, Thomas Merton Center for Creative Exchange, 2832 S. Vrain, Denver, CO 80236.

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     The Sacramento Chapter is currently discussing selections from The Intimate Merton at its meetings.  The next meeting will be held on November 27, 2005.  The chapter has scheduled a prayer day at the Cistercian Abbey at VIna, CA on March 18, 2006.  For further information contact John Berger: 916-482-6976; email:

    Send all Merton-related news to:
    Pat O’Connell
    Box 3219
    Gannon University,  Erie,  PA 16541

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