International Thomas Merton Society

    NEWSLETTER

                    Vol. 13, No. 2                                  Fall, 2006

2007 General Meeting Program Set

     At its June meeting, the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society approved the program for the ITMS Tenth General Meeting, to be held June 7-10, 2007 at Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN. The theme of the meeting is “Wide Open to Heaven and Earth: Contemplation, Community, Culture.” Major speakers include James Forest, Arun Gandhi, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Joyce Hollyday and Albert Raboteau. The program will also feature an address by ITMS President Paul M. Pearson, twenty-five concurrent sessions and workshops, meditation and worship sessions, and entertainment.

    James Forest is currently the secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, In Communion. He is a former editor of The Catholic Worker, a founding coordinator of The Catholic Peace Fellowship, and former General Secretary of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. A close friend and correspondent of Thomas Merton, he is the author of numerous books, including his biography of Merton, Living with Wisdom, and Love Is the Measure, a biography of Dorothy Day. Merton’s letters to him are included in The Hidden Ground of Love.

    Arun Gandhi is the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi and the founder of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. Born in South Africa, he was involved in the struggle against apartheid there; he later worked for three decades as a journalist for The Times of India while working with his wife Sunanda in programs for social and economic uplift in Indian villages. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including M. K. Gandhi’s Wit and Wisdom, World without Violence: Can Gandhi’s Vision Become Reality?, and Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence.

    Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has served as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit since 1968, and as pastor of St. Leo Church in inner-city Detroit since 1983. He was the founding president of Pax Christi USA (1972-1991), and also served as president of the Christian citizens’ anti-hunger organization Bread for the World from 1976 through 1984. He was a member of the bishops committee that drafted the landmark 1983 pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace, and has spoken widely on issues of justice and peace; his work has taken him to Vietnam, Central America, Haiti, Iran, Iraq and other trouble spots throughout the world. His numerous awards include the University of Notre Dame Peacemaker award and the Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace award from Pax Christi USA, as well as eight honorary degrees.

    Joyce Hollyday is a United Church of Christ minister in Asheville, NC and a former associate editor of Sojourners magazine. She was a founding member of Witness for Peace and part of the first WFP team to establish a nonviolent presence in Nicaragua during the Contra war of the 1980s. She is the author and editor of numerous books, including Then Shall Your Light Rise: Spiritual Formation and Social Witness, Clothed with the Sun: Biblical Women, Social Justice, and Us, and Turning toward Home: A Sojourn of Hope, and is the editor of the Clarence Jordan volume in the Orbis Modern Spiritual Masters series.

    Albert J. Raboteau is a professor at Princeton University, specializing in American religious history. His research and teaching have focused on American Catholic history and African-American religious movements. Among his many books are Slave Religion (recently reissued in an updated 25th -anniversary edition), A Fire in the Bones (which includes the chapter “A Hidden Wholeness: Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King”) and his spiritual memoir A Sorrowful Joy.

    Opening sessions on Thursday afternoon of the conference will include a “First-Timers’ Orientation” with Bob Grip; “Daggy Youth Scholars Orientation” with Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán y Fuentes and Virginia Kaib Ratigan; “ITMS Chapters Workshop” with Tony Russo; “In the Zen Garden of the Lord: Thomas Merton’s Stone Garden” with Roger Lipsey; “Merton’s Fifteen Years with Jubilee Magazine” with James Harford; and “Prophetic Roles of Thomas Merton and Bob Dylan” with Tom Sheridan. A roundtable discussion on Walter Percy featuring Percy biographer Patrick Samway, SJ and Prof. Huey Guagliardo is scheduled for Sunday morning. The closing liturgy will be celebrated by Fr. James Conner, OCSO, former ITMS president and assistant master of novices under Thomas Merton.

    Concurrent session topics include:
• “Merton and Alternative Communities”: Erlinda G. Paguio and Kathleen Deignan;
• “Merton and Contemplative Wholeness”: William Mangrum and Richard Reilly;
• “Merton and Faulkner”: Deborah P. Kehoe and Judith Hunter;
• “Merton and Interreligious Dialogue”: Larry Culliford and Sidney Griffith;
• “Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.”: Edward K. Kaplan and Cristobal Serran-Pagan;
• “Merton and Non-Violence”: Judith Hardcastle and Gerry McMahon;
• “Merton and Southern Writers”: John P. Collins and Jeffrey Cooper;
• “Merton and Spiritual Formation”: Fred Herron and David Griffith;
• “Merton, Music and the Muse”: Rose Annette Liddell and Patrick O’Connell;
• “Merton’s Civil Rights Letters”: William Apel and Mark Meade;
• “Merton’s Contemplative Approach”: Les McKeown and John D. Dadosky;
• “Merton’s Ecological Consciousness”: John Cronin and Daniel E. Potocki;
• “Merton’s Prophetic Humanism”: Christine Bochen and Steven P. Millies;
• “Merton’s Philosophical Roots”: Pamela Werrbach Proietti and Stefano Santasilia;
• “Merton’s Spiritual Forebears”: Nass Cannon and Timothy Shaffer.

    Workshop, performance and special presentations include:
• “Architectural Design through Contemplation”: Gregory Splinter;
• “At the Still Point of the Turning World: T. S. Eliot, Thomas Merton and the Interactive Self”: Michael Sobocinski;
• “Gelassenheit – Letting Go”: Ellyn Crutcher;
• “The Memphis Genuflect: Merton-Presley Correspondence”: David Belcastro;
• “Thomas Merton – Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Catholic and a Lutheran Journey from Heaven to Earth”: Detlev Cuntz and Maria Reichel;
• “The Vision of Personhood as Lived by the Artist, Thomas Merton”: Brother Mark Filut, OCSO;
• “A Wide Open Lens: The Anti-Photography of Thomas Merton”: Paul Pearson.

    Guided Prayer sessions include:
• “Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton”: Robert Toth and Jonathan Montaldo;
• “Finding the Sky within You”: Monica Weis;
• “Merton’s Contemplative Hospitality: Embracing All of Life”: Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox;
• “Psalm 173, Merton, and Darfur: A Prayer Service of Word and Music”: Jeffrey T. Kiernan;
• “Merton’s Use of Spiritual Geography: The Importance of Place in Our Life with God”: Doug Ryniewicz.

    The program committee for the Tenth General Meeting is chaired by ITMS Past President Erlinda Paguio, with Gray Matthews as site coordinator; other members of the committee include Christine Bochen, Paul Dekar, Dorothy Hulburt, Patrick O’Connell, ITMS President Paul M. Pearson and ITMS Treasurer Mary Somerville.

    Registration materials, with further information on the schedule, costs and accommodations for the conference will be included in the Winter 2006 issue of The Merton Seasonal. Update information is available at the Merton Center/ITMS web site: www.merton.org/Memphis/

Shannon Fellowships Awarded

     At its June meeting, the ITMS Board of Directors awarded 2006-2007 Shannon Fellowships to three scholars: John Cronin, Andrea Neuhoff and Stefano Santasilia.  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, Joseph Quinn Raab and Bonnie Thurston.    

     John Cronin will pursue study on “The Ecological Theology of Thomas Merton: A Model for the 21st Century.”  He is an author and an award-winning documentary filmmaker who co-authored the book The Riverkeepers, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and has been a frequent contributor on environmental policy to The New York Times.  Since 2000, he has been the Resident Scholar in Environmental Studies at Pace University, where he founded the Pace Institute for Environmental and Regional Studies to focus the talents and expertise of the University community on the environmental challenges facing the Hudson River and its people.

     Andrea Neuhoff will undertake “An Examination of the Evolutionary Creation of The Seven Storey Mountain.”  A recent graduate of Reed College, Oregon, she was a 2005 Daggy Scholar and completed her senior thesis on Merton: “The Unedited Thomas Merton: Autobiography to Autohagiography.”

     Stefano Santasilia will investigate “The Influences of Martin Buber and Gabriel Marcel on Merton’s Understanding of Identity and Dialogue.”  He completed his master’s thesis at the University of Naples on Thomas Merton in 2002: “Mistica ed Etica in Thomas Merton,” and is actively involved with the Italian Thomas Merton Society.

     The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2007-2008 is March 15, 2007.  Awards must be used between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008.  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 Dr. Paul M. Pearson, Director, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY 40205; email: pmpearson@bellarmine.edu.  The committee’s recommendations will be presented at the June, 2007 meeting of the ITMS Board of Directors, who will make the final decisions on awards, and results will be communicated to applicants shortly thereafter.

Daggy Scholarships Available

     The International Thomas Merton Society will once again sponsor the Daggy Youth/Student Scholarship Program to make it possible for young people to participate in the ITMS General Meeting.  The program is named in honor of the late Dr. Robert Daggy, founding member and second president of the ITMS and longtime director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.  Up to fifteen scholarships will be awarded, covering all costs (except transportation) of attendance at the Tenth General Meeting of the ITMS, to be held at Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN, June 7-10, 2007.  The awards will also include one year’s free membership in the ITMS.  Young people between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine, and full-time undergraduate students up to the age of forty, are invited to apply.

     Scholarship applicants should submit a statement explaining why they are interested in learning more about Thomas Merton and how they think they would benefit from attending the ITMS General Meeting.  They should also obtain a recommendation from a youth minister, campus minister, pastor, teacher, or other qualified adult explaining in what capacity he/she knows the applicant and why the applicant should be considered as a qualified candidate for an ITMS scholarship.

     Completed applications, including the recommendation, must be submitted by March 15, 2007, to the scholarship committee chair, Dr. Virginia Ratigan, Religious Studies Department, Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave., Rosemont, PA 19010; email: JRATIGAN@aol.com.  Applications should include the age of the applicant, proof of educational status (if applicable), telephone number and email address (if available) as well as a return address.

     Any ITMS member who knows an eligible young person / student that would benefit from attending the 2007 General Meeting in Memphis should encourage him or her to apply for a scholarship.

    Application forms are available at: www.merton.org/ITMS/scholarships.htm

Mary Luke Tobin, SL (1908-2006)

    Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, SL, former president of the Sisters of Loretto and close friend of Thomas Merton, died August 24, 2006 at the Loretto motherhouse in Nerinx, KY at the age of 98.  She was a longtime advocate for justice, peace and women’s rights and a leader in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and in the renewal of women’s religious communities.  She was the only American woman and one of the few women worldwide to serve as an observer at the Second Vatican Council.

     Ruth Marie Tobin was born May 16, 1908 in Denver, and attended Loretto Heights College before entering the Loretto Community and taking the name Mary Luke in 1927.  After teaching for more than two decades in elementary and secondary schools staffed by her order, Sr. Luke became a member of the general council of the Sisters of Loretto in 1952, and was later elected to two consecutive terms as the order’s president, serving from 1958 to 1970.  In the early 1960s she became the head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the national organization of leaders of women’s religious congregations, which sent her to Rome for the third session of Vatican II.  While on route she was formally invited to be an official auditor at the council, one of fifteen women accorded this status.  She attended the third and fourth sessions of the council (1964, 1965), and was one of only three women to serve on conciliar commissions responsible for drafting council documents.

     During her time as congregation president, stationed at the order’s Kentucky motherhouse, thirteen miles from the Abbey of Gethsemani, she became a friend of Thomas Merton, with whom she shared visits and correspondence.  Merton gave conferences for Loretto novices during Sr. Luke’s tenure as congregation president.  She was a major source of information about Vatican II for Merton, who in turn shared his own concerns about issues with which the council would deal, particularly those social issues discussed in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, for which she was a member of the drafting committee.  She helped Merton to arrange the 1967 and 1968 retreats for contemplative prioresses at Gethsemani, published in 1992 as The Springs of Contemplation, for which she wrote an introduction.              

     Returning to Denver after finishing her term as Loretto president, Sr. Luke served as Director of Citizen Action for Church Women United, an ecumenical, largely Protestant organization, from 1972 to 1978.  She participated in numerous activities promoting peace and justice, including trips to Saigon and Paris during the Vietnam War as well as visits to Northern Ireland, El Salvador and other global trouble spots.  She was deeply involved in interreligious dialogue, co-founding a Buddhist-Christian dialogue group in Denver.  In 1979, she founded the Thomas Merton Center for Creative Exchange in Denver to increase knowledge of Merton’s life and writings and to encourage involvement in issues of justice, peace and interfaith cooperation championed by Merton.  She was a co-founder of the International Thomas Merton Society and a plenary speaker at the ITMS Third General Meeting in Colorado Springs in 1995.  She received the ITMS “Louie” award for distinguished service to the Society at the ITMS Fourth General Meeting in 1997.  She was the recipient of seven honorary doctoral degrees, as well as numerous other awards for her work for peace, the rights of women, and interfaith and intercultural understanding.  She was the author of Hope Is an Open Door, her 1981 autobiographical volume which includes a chapter on her friendship with Merton, and a contributing author of five other books, as well as author of numerous articles on issues of church reform, social justice and interreligious dialogue. 

      In 1999, Sr. Luke retired to the Loretto motherhouse in Nerinx, where she remained active until her health began to deteriorate in 2004. 

     Memorial contributions may be made to the Loretto Development Office, 300 East Hampden Ave., Suite 400, Englewood, CO 80113.

John C. Heidbrink (1926-2006)

     John C. Heidbrink, former director of interfaith activities at the Fellowship of Reconciliation and a friend and correspondent of Thomas Merton, died May 1, 2006, in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 79.  Born in Oklahoma City on June 18, 1926, he studied at Baylor University, Oxford University, Harvard University and Kenyon College, and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1957.  After pastoring congregations in New Mexico and Oklahoma, he joined the staff of the FOR, the largest interreligious peace organization, in 1961 on the advice of Martin Luther King, whom he met while serving as University Pastor at the University of Oklahoma.  While at the FOR, he was largely responsible for the formation of the Catholic Peace Fellowship as an affiliated organization, working closely with Dorothy Day, the Berrigan brothers, Jim Forest, and Thomas Merton, who became a CPF sponsor and a member of the FOR.  Heidbrink was responsible for bringing Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace advocate Thich Nhat Hanh to America and arranged his speaking tour, including the visit to the Abbey of Gethsemani to meet Merton, who wrote his famous essay “Nhat Hanh Is My Brother” immediately afterward.  After leaving the FOR in 1968, Heidbrink taught at Mary Holmes College in Mississippi, pastored a church in Bogota, Columbia, and in 1974 moved to Oregon, where he served Presbyterian congregations until his retirement in 1991.  He was active in the ecumenical movement, serving as a Protestant Observer at the Second Vatican Council, and was an FOR delegate to Christian/Marxist Seminars held in Budapest, Leningrad, Sofia, Berlin and Prague.  He and his wife Elizabeth were married in 1953 and had three sons and three daughters.  Merton’s letters to Heidbrink are published in The Hidden Ground of Love.

Merton Peace Pilgrimage

      A peace pilgrimage commemorating the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist bombings and the one hundredth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s first nonviolent campaign for social justice took place Sept. 7-11, 2006.  The march began at Thomas Merton’s hermitage at the Abbey of Gethsemani and concluded at the corner of Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard (formerly Walnut Street) in Louisville, site of Merton’s famous “epiphany” on March 18, 1958, which is credited for motivating his involvement in issues of peace and justice during the final decade of his life.  The march was led by peace activist and author John Dear, SJ and author and filmmaker Phil Cousineau; a capacity group of fifty marchers covered the entire distance of 58 miles, and were joined along the way for shorter periods by others, including a total group of over 300 who took part in the final walk from Louisville’s Central Park to the final destination, according to the Louisville Catholic Record.  The march, officially known as the Gandhi-Merton Pilgrimage for Peace and Nonviolence, was organized by Interfaith Paths to Peace, a Louisville group committed to nonviolent approaches to conflicts, and was sponsored by more than eighty organizations, including the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, numerous churches and religious groups, and even a girl scout troop.    

     The four-day trek was preceded by a full-day retreat for the marchers at the Hindu Temple of Kentucky, led by Fr. Dear.  Prayers at the hermitage for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, and for an end to global warming, preceded the first leg of the journey.  Brother Paul Quenon of Gethsemani, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society who was a novice under Merton, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Merton would appreciate the pilgrimage and “give it the fullness of his blessings.”  Brother Paul was among those who offered prayers for peace and readings from Merton’s books at the hermitage prayer service.

     Each day’s march was spent partially in silence and partially in song and conversation.  The initial day’s itinerary took the pilgrims from the hermitage to the Catherine Spalding Retreat Center at Nazareth, with a stop at the historic St. Thomas Catholic Church for lunch.  The second day brought the walkers to Cedar Ridge Camp near Taylorsville.  On the third day the march reached Beulah Presbyterian Church south of Louisville, where a city-wide interfaith program was held in the evening.   The final day included a stop at the Louisville Baha’i Center, lunch at the Louisville Friends (Quaker) Meeting House and a stop at the Woodbine Catholic Worker House, before reaching Central Park for a brief ecumenical program and proceeding to Fourth and Muhammad Ali, where Fr. Dear read the “Fourth and Walnut” passage from Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander and pilgrims took a vow of personal nonviolence.  An evening reception was held following the conclusion of the march at Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Center. 

     Terry Taylor, executive director of Interfaith Paths for Peace, told the Courier-Journal that the march was intended as a witness to the belief that peace and nonviolence are the answers to terrorism and violence. “It gives people a chance to show the community their support for the idea that the best way to honor the memory of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, is to work for nonviolent solutions in the way that Gandhi did, beginning on Sept. 11, 1906,” he said.  Further information on the group and on the march can be found at the organization’s web site, www.interfaithpathstopeace.org

Catechism Appears – Without Merton

     The new United States Catholic Catechism for Adults has recently been published by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, without the biographical profile of Thomas Merton that originally headed its opening chapter.  Bishops’ Conference officials maintained that the removal of Merton from the catechism’s final draft was unrelated to the severe attack on his inclusion by two prominent conservative critics of the catechism.  According to Bishop (now Archbishop) Donald Wuerl, chair of the committee which drafted the catechism, Merton was omitted from the final version of the book because “the generation we were speaking to [i.e., primarily young adults] had no idea who he was,” and “only secondarily did we take into consideration that we don’t know all the details of the searching at the end of his life.”  A conference staffer later stated that Merton was replaced in the opening chapter by St. Elizabeth Seton in the interests of gender balance.

     Reports of Merton’s exclusion prompted a letter drafted and sponsored by the International Thomas Merton Society that provided extensive evidence countering Bishop Wuerl’s contentions and requesting that the committee reverse its decision.  The letter was endorsed by more than 1150 people, many of whom provided testimonies of Merton’s influence on their lives, and received national attention, including articles distributed by Religion News Service and Catholic News Service, an editorial in Commonweal magazine, and a front-page story in the National Catholic Reporter.  The letter with names and testimonies was forwarded to all American bishops, some of whom responded sympathetically, but conference officials stated that the book could not be altered because it had already been forwarded to the Vatican for approval.

     In addition to Mother Seton, profiles in the published catechism, keyed to chapter topics, include the following: Moses (ch. 2); Blessed John XXIII (ch. 3); Fr. Isaac Hecker (ch. 4); Orestes Brownson (ch. 5); Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (ch. 6); Pierre Toussaint (ch. 7); Sr. Thea Bowman (ch. 8); Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (ch. 9); St. Peter (ch. 10); Blessed Junipero Serra (ch. 11); St. Juan Diego (ch. 12); St. Katherine Drexel (ch. 13); Msgr. Martin Hellriegel (ch. 14); John Boyle O’Reilly (ch. 15); St. Frances Cabrini (ch. 16); Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (ch. 17); St. Augustine (ch. 18); Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (ch. 19); St. John Neumann (ch. 20); St. Thomas More (ch. 21); Fr. Patrick Peyton (ch. 22); Jesus (ch. 23); Cesar Chavez (ch. 24); Catherine De Hueck Doherty (ch. 25); Job (ch. 26); Fr. Demetrius Gallitzin and Fr. James Fitton (ch. 27); Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi (ch. 28); Dorothy Day (ch. 29); Pope Paul VI (ch. 30); Mother Joseph Pariseau (ch. 31); Bp. John Francis Noll (ch. 32); St. Maria Goretti (ch. 33); Henriette Delille (ch. 34); Abp. Fulton Sheen (ch. 35).

     Chapter 36, entitled “Jesus Taught Us to Pray,” has no biographical profile.  

Foundation Name Change

     The Thomas Merton Foundation will subsequently be known as The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living.  According to the Fall 2006 issue of the group’s newsletter, Contemplation and Action, the old name was frequently a source of confusion, since the term foundation usually is associated with an organization that provides grants for other projects, whereas the Merton Foundation has solicited funds primarily for its own initiatives.  The new name also directs attention not to Merton the person but to his teaching on the central role of contemplative living in bringing about a more just and peaceful world.  The group’s web site is currently being redesigned and will be available in mid-October at a new address: www.mertoninstitute.org.

Merton Play Available for Booking

    The Still Point Theater Collective production of The Hermit in New York by Teresa Weed, a play about Thomas Merton, is now available for bookings as a non-profit touring production.  The production has been endorsed by the Chicago Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society as working well for “both those of us who are Merton aficionados and those who know little about him . . . a gift for people to learn something about Merton through this excellent vehicle . . . portraying a saintly man who is nonetheless eminently human and accessible.”  Founded by Lisa Wagner in 1993, Still Point Theatre Collective is a Chicago-based community of artists dedicated to creating performances, workshops, retreats and community events that raise consciousness on issues of peace and justice.  For further information (including references, reviews, photos, a CD of a public radio interview with playwright Weed, a preview script and DVD, etc.), as well as details on how the production can work as a theatrical education tool, contact Karin McKie, Booking Manager: email: kmckie@msn.com; phone: 773-856-6767.

Merton Happenings

     In June, 2006 Bonnie Thurston taught a masters of divinity course on Thomas Merton at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, TN.

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     A photography exhibit entitled “Peaceful Places: The Abbey of Gethsemani and Cherokee Park,” Turn of the Century Photographs by Theodore Eitel, was held July 14-September 29 at the Photographic Archives Gallery of the Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville.  In conjunction with the exhibit author Dianne Aprile spoke at the gallery on September 14.

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     On July 17 Malgorzata Poks gave an informal talk on “Thomas Merton and the ‘Stranger’” to the Cistercian Community at Bolton Abbey, Ireland.

Upcoming Events

    On October 11, Robert Ellsberg, editor-in-chief of Orbis Books, will give a presentation entitled “Saints for Now: Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Henri Nouwen” at the Cralle Theater, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Bellarmine Thomas Merton Center.  The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

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     John Berger and Fr. Art Wehr, SJ will conduct a four-week adult education program on Thomas Merton beginning October 17th at La Casa, Citrus Heights, CA.; topics include: October 17: Merton's Spiritual Journey Is Our Own; October 24: Merton's Spiritual Journey: Ecumenism and Renewal in the Church; October 31: Merton's Spirituality and Prayer Life; November 7: Contemplation in a World of Action: Peace in this Time. For further information contact: Christ the King Retreat Center, 6520 Van Maren Lane, Citrus Heights, CA. 95621. Tel: 916 725 4720. 

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     Making Peace in the Post Christian Era: A day on Merton’s Prophetic thoughts on War and Peace. Saturday 11th November – 10 am to 3.30pm Leeds Met. Univ. Headingley Campus, Beckett Park, Leeds. Speakers will include Pat Gaffney - Gen. Sec. Pax Christi U.K.; Fr. Gerry McFlynn - Irish Comm.for Prisoners Overseas; and Revd. Dr. Clive Barrett – Visiting Fellow Leeds Metropolitan University. Booking is essential. For further information: http://www.thomasmertonsociety.org/tevents.htm#PPCE
 

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     On November 17 at 1 p.m. Paul Pearson will give a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton’s Interfaith Pilgrimage” at the National Humanities Conference, to be held at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel, Louisville, KY.

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     On December 12, Patrick O’Connell will give a presentation entitled “Living Advent with Thomas Merton” at the Cralle Theater, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.

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     The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living will begin offering weekend Contemplative Living Retreats at the Bethany Spring Retreat House, located just one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani.  The first retreat took place August 25-27; subsequent retreats are planned for November 17-19, 2006, March 23-25, April 20-22 and May 11-13, 2007.  Based on the Institute’s Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton series, edited by Jonathan Montaldo and Robert Toth, these small-group directed retreats offer an opportunity to reflect and dialogue on topics that lead to being more contemplative in everyday life and to experience the liturgy and prayer life of Gethsemani.  For information or registration call The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living at 800-886-7275 or 502-899-1991.

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     The Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago will sponsor an exhibition entitled “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” from Oct. 28, 2006 through Jan. 15, 2007.  The exhibit features 35 Merton photographs and is being presented concurrently with a larger exhibit, “The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama.”  On December 10 at 3 p.m., Paul M. Pearson will give a presentation on the Merton exhibit at the museum, 820 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.  For more information, visit http://www.luc.edu/luma

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As part of its centennial observance, Corpus Christi Parish, 529 West 121st St., Manhattan, the sight of Thomas Merton's baptism, will celebrate a Memorial Mass for Merton on Sunday, December 10, 2006, at 11:15AM.  December 10 is the thirty eighth anniversary of Merton's death.

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     Donald St. John will conduct a four-week adult education program on Thomas Merton in early 2007 at Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem, PA; topics include: February 4 : The Life of Thomas Merton; February 11: Contemplation: The Renewal of the Contemplative Life; February 18: Action: Justice, Peace and Ecology; February 25: Inter-religious Dialogue.  For further information contact him at medps01@moravian.edu.

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     On February 10, 2007 Bonnie Thurston will lead a daylong retreat entitled “Thomas Merton: Man of Prayer and Contemplative” at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Parkersburg, WV; for more information contact Rev. William Calhoun at 304-422-2552.

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     On February 22, 2007, Vincent Harding will give a presentation entitled “The Struggle for Freedom: Thomas Merton, Civil Rights and Democracy” at the Cralle Theater, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.

Chapter News

     On July 23 the reading group of the Atlanta ITMS chapter held its fifth annual Merton picnic at the home of Dewey and Victor Kramer.  For further information contact Gerald F. Kimball, Aquinas Center, Emory University, 1703 Clifton Rd., Suite F-5, Atlanta, GA 30322; email: gerald.f.kimball@mindspring.com.

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     On September 17, the Chicago Chapter of the ITMS sponsored a talk by Judith Hunter entitled “‘No Solution in Withdrawal – No Solution in Conforming’: Merton, Teilhard, Kung and Curran,” at the Immaculate Conception Parish Rectory Assembly, followed by supper at Vince’s Italian Restaurant.  On October 15, Sr. Suzanne Zuercher, OSB will speak on “Merton and Monasticism” at the Assembly.  More than thirty-five members and guests attended the chapter summer picnic August 13 at the Immaculate Conception Passionist Monastery, hosted by chapter coordinator Fr. Francis Cusack, CP.  The Merton Study Group met at the monastery July 31 to complete its discussion of The Intimate Merton, and August 28 to discuss the first two chapters of Merton’s The Inner Experience.  The chapter web site is now operative at www.chicagomerton.org.  For further information contact Mike Brennan, 4537 N. Melvina Ave., Chicago, IL 60630-3013; phone: 773-447-3989.

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     The Northern California ITMS Chapter met July 30 and Sept. 24 at the St. Francis Parish Center in Sacramento for a discussion of Merton’s No Man Is an Island; the next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18, and the next reading will be Merton’s novel My Argument with the Gestapo.  For further information contact John Berger, 3736 Laguna Way, Sacramento, CA 95864-2923; phone: 916-482-6976.

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     On July 29 the ITMS St. Louis Chapter held a retreat and picnic on the topic “Revelation of Justice, Revolution of Love: Thomas Merton’s Message for a New Millennium” directed by Father James Conner, OCSO at the Maria Center, in St. Louis.  For further information contact Pauline Pearson, 2220 Oriole Drive, Florissant, MO 63033; email: paulinewp@hotmail.com.

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     The San Diego ITMS is sponsoring a weekend retreat with Merton scholar James Finley entitled “Little Things that Fill the Whole World: Gospel Metaphors of Spiritual Awakening” at Mission San Luis Rey Retreat Center, Oceanside, CA, Jan. 26-28, 2007.  Cost is $150 commuter rate and $210 for those staying at the retreat center (double occupancy).  For further information contact Pat Hulbert, 5905 La Jolla Hermosa, San Diego, CA 92037; email: pat@sandiegomerton.org; phone: 858-490-0507.

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     The fall program of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada includes the following presentations: Les McKeown spoke on “Thomas Merton, St. John of the Cross and Zen” at the Sept. 18 meeting at Vancouver Public Library; Judith Hardcastle spoke on “Merton on Main Street” at the Carnegie Centre in Vancouver; Donald Grayston will facilitate a screening and discussion of the film “A Zen Life – D. T. Suzuki” with executive producer and director Michael Goldberg on Oct. 8; Ron Dart will speak on “Thomas Merton and George Grant: Radical Conservatives” on Oct. 17 at the library; M. Charles Brandt will speak on “Thomas Merton, Thomas Berry and the Natural World” on Nov. 22 at the library.  In addition, on Oct. 13 Jim Forest will deliver the keynote address for the “Climate of Fear/Commitment to Peace” conference at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, Camrose, Alberta; the conference will continue Oct. 14 with plenary sessions and concurrent presentations and workshops; on Nov. 17, Lloyd Axworthy will present the keynote at the “Climate of Fear/Commitment to Peace” conference at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, which will likewise continue Nov. 18 with plenary sessions, concurrent presentations and workshops.  For further information on any of these events see the TMSC web site at www.merton.ca or email: tmsc@telus.net; phone: 604-669-2546.

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

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