International Thomas Merton Society

NEWSLETTER

        Vol. 14, No. 1                                    Spring, 2007

Talbot to Perform in Memphis     

     A concert by Christian recording artist John Michael Talbot will highlight the Tenth General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society, to be held at Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN, June 7-10, 2007.  Featured performer on more than four dozen albums and author of a more than a dozen books on Christian themes, Talbot is one of the best known and most highly respected artists in the field of Christian music.  In 1982 he won the Dove Award for Worship Album of the Year, Light Eternal; four years later, he became one of only nine artists to receive the President's Merit Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and, in 1988 he was named the No.1 Christian Artist by Billboard magazine.

     Born in 1954, Talbot grew up in Oklahoma in a Methodist family, and dropped out of high school to perform as rock guitarist for the country/folk rock band Mason Proffit, which once opened for Janis Joplin.  He began a solo career as a Christian artist amid the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, converted to Catholicism and joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1978.  He founded the Little Brothers and Sisters of Charity, an integrated monastic community including celibate and married members, at Little Portion Hermitage in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. 

     Among his writings on contemplation, meditation and monasticism is an introductory survey of Christian spirituality, The Way of the Mystics (2005), which concludes with a chapter on Thomas Merton, in which Talbot describes how Merton “had a major influence on me at a time in my spiritual pilgrimage when I was beginning to consider both monasticism and Catholicism.”  He first read The Silent Life, which he “devoured,” then The Seven Storey Mountain, The Sign of Jonas and many other Merton works.  He has set many Merton poems to music and recorded them on a number of albums.  His performance in Memphis, which will take place on Saturday evening, June 9 in the main theatre of CBU, will include these and other songs, as well as spiritual reflections.  Further information about John Michael Talbot can be found at:  www.johnmichaeltalbot.com

Merton Poetry Conference Scheduled

     A conference on the poetry of Thomas Merton entitled “In the Dark Before Dawn: Thomas Merton, Poet” will be held October 19-20, 2007 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.  The title of the conference is taken from the recently published volume In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (2005) edited by Lynn Szabo.

     The keynote address, entitled “The Priestly Imagination: Thomas Merton and the Poetics of Critique,” will be given on Friday evening by Michael Higgins, President of St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, and author of numerous books, including Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton.

     Presentations on Saturday include:

     The day will also feature a panel of “Poets Who Knew Thomas Merton,” including Jonathan Greene, Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO and Ron Seitz; the panel will be chaired by Frederick Smock, Bellarmine University poet-in-residence.

     Cost of the conference, including registration, reception on Friday and lunch, refreshments and conference dinner on Saturday, is $65 ($50 reduced student rate with photocopy of valid student ID; $85 for registrations made after October 5, 2007).  Checks, payable to “Merton Conference,” should be sent to Dr. Paul M. Pearson, Merton Poetry Conference, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY 40205.  Further information on the schedule, the speakers and accommodations in the area can be found at http://www.merton.org/Poetry/

Canadian TMS Sponsors Conferences

      The Thomas Merton Society of Canada has been sponsoring a series of conferences throughout the country with the common title “Finding Hope in a Time of Despair.”  On March 2-3, a conference was held in Vancouver, BC, co-sponsored by the TMSC and the Canadian Memorial Church and Centre for Peace.  On April 27-28, a conference will be held at Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario, co-sponsored by the TMSC and the college.  

     The keynote speaker at the Toronto conference will be noted Canadian author and statesman Douglas Roche, OC.  A long-time reader of Thomas Merton, Roche served in the Canadian Parliament from 1972 to 1984 and as Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament from 1984 to 1989.  He has received six honorary doctorates as well as the United Nations Association’s Medal of Honour and the Papal Medal for his service on disarmament and security matters, and the Pomerance Award for work at the United Nations on nuclear disarmament.  He is the author of seventeen books, most recently The Human Right to Peace (2003).

     Other plenary session speakers include TMSC past president Donald Grayston, on “Hope in a Time of Despair: Seeking It, Finding It, Sharing It”; and TMSC board member Ron Dart, on “Thomas Merton & George Grant: Radical Conservatives.”

    

     Concurrent session presentations include:

     Registration costs for the conference (including lunch) are CAN$60 ($15 Fri. evening; $30 Sat. morning only; $30 Sat. afternoon only).  Further information and registration instructions can be found at the TMSC website: www.merton.ca.

    

The Vancouver conference also featured Donald Grayston and Ron Dart as its plenary speakers.  Concurrent session speakers included:

ITMS Authors

      A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century: Where Do We Go From Here? (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 2006) was recently edited by Brother Patrick Hart, OCSO; the book contains thirteen essays on the future of monasticism, a number of them by Merton scholars and ITMS members; contributors include John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO, Michael Casey, OCSO, Joan Chittister, OSB, Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, Lawrence S. Cunningham, Gail Fitzpatrick, OCSO, Mary Margaret Funk, OSB, Terrence Kardong, OSB, Francis Kline, OCSO, Bp. Robert Morneau, Kathleen Norris, Miriam Pollard, OCSO and Bonnie Thurston; the Introduction is by Cistercian Abbot General Bernardo Olivera, OCSO.

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     A Good War Is Hard to Find by David Griffith was recently published by Soft Skull Press; in the series of essays that make up the volume, Griffith, who will be a speaker at the ITMS Tenth General Meeting in Memphis in June 2007, uses reflections on Flannery O’Connor, the Abu Ghraib photographs and other sources to argue that society’s shift in communications media away from language toward  images has changed the way people think about violence and cruelty, and that a disconnect exists between image and reality.

Merton Happenings

 

    On November 17-19, Dan Phillips led a retreat entitled “Living in the Desert: Moments of Solitude and Silence Using the Writings of Trappist Monk Thomas Merton” at the Mount St. Joseph Conference and Retreat Center, Maple Mount, KY.

 

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     On December 6, to mark the 38th anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, Gosia Poks gave an open lecture and PowerPoint presentation on “The Poetry of Thomas Merton,” attended by studentsof the English Teacher Training College in Sosnowiec, Poland.

 

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     On January 12-14, Fr. Patrick Collins gave a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at San Pedro Retreat Center, Winter Park FL.

 

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     On January 24, Fr. Wayne Prist gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: How Contemplation Leads to Peace” at St. Giles McDonough Hall, Oak Park, IL, sponsored by the Christian adult education group Ekklesia.

 

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     On January 29, Fr. George Kilcourse gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton’s Spiritual Paradox: Humility, the Surest Sign of Strength” at the Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville, KY, in commemoration of the ninety-second anniversary of Merton’s birth.

 

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     On January 31, to commemorate the ninety-second birthday of Thomas Merton, We Are Here on Earth: Radio without Borders, from Wisconsin Public Radio, presented Parker Palmer speaking about Merton’s journey from traditional Roman Catholicism into an expansive universal Christianity.  Information about the program is available at: http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/archive_070131k.cfm.

 

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     On Valentine’s Day, February 14, a quotation from Thomas Merton was featured as the “Celebrity Cipher,” a daily letter-substitution cryptogram that appears in newspapers around the country.  The passage, taken from No Man Is an Island, reads: “True happiness is found in unselfish love, a love which increases in proportion as it is shared.”

 

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     On February 15 and 22, Ross Labrie, President of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, spoke on “Thomas Merton’s Spiritual Journey” at Holy Trinity Church in North Vancouver, BC, and on February 17 he gave a presentation entitled “An Introduction to Thomas Merton” at St. Peter’s Church in New Westminster, BC.

 

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     On February 22, Vincent Harding gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton and the Tragedy and the Hope of America” at the Cralle Theater, Frazier Hall, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.

 

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     On February 27, Thomas Merton Center Director Paul M. Pearson spoke on “Thomas Merton, Archivist,” at Butler Library, Columbia University, New York City, as part of the Thomas Merton Exhibition that ran from February 12 through March 23 at the library’s Rare Book Archives.

 

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     On March 22, Christine Bochen gave a presentation on “Thomas Merton’s Letters: What Do They Teach Us about the Man and the Monk?” at the Rehm Library, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.

Upcoming Events

 

     On April 4, 11, 18 and 25, Fr. Patrick Collins will give a course on the Spirituality of Thomas Merton at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids MI; for further information contact: aqadult@aquinas.edu.

 

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     On April 11, 18 and 25, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a course on Thomas Merton’s Spirituality at Hope Academy of Senior Professionals, Holland MI; for further information, phone: 616-395-7919; fax: 616-395-7406.

 

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     Upcoming “Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton” retreats, sponsored by The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, are scheduled for April 20-22, May 11-13, July 6-8, August 17-19, August 31-September 2, September 7-9, October 19-21, October 26-28.  For further information contact Helen Graffy at the Institute: phone: 502-899-1991 or 800-886-7275; email: hgraffy@mertoninstitute.org; website: http://www.mertoninstitute.org/retreats.php.

 

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     On April 20-22, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at the Dominican Retreat House, Oxford MI; for further information, phone: 248-628-3894.

 

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     On April 27-29, Dan Phillips will lead a retreat entitled “Living in the Desert: Moments of Solitude and Silence Using the Writings of Trappist Monk Thomas Merton” at the Jesuit Spiritual Center, Milford, OH.  The cost is $175.  For further information contact: reservations@milfordspiritualcenter.org; phone: 513-248-3500.

 

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     On May 12, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at the Transformations Spirituality Center, Nazareth, MI; for further information phone: 269-381-6290; fax: 269-381-4616.

 

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     On May 18-20, Michael Woodward will lead a retreat on “Thomas Merton and the Wisdom of the East” at St. Denys Retreat House, Warminster, UK sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland .  The cost is £100 (members); £110 (non-members).  For further information contact Stephen Dunhill, 2 Western Villas, Western Road, Crediton, Devon. EX17 3NA.

 

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     On May 18-20, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a retreat entitled “Leavening the Dough: Thomas Merton Reflects on Our World” at the St. Benedict Center, Schuyler NE; for further information see the Center website at: http://www.benedictinemissionhouse.com/calendar2007.htm.

 

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     On June 8-10, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at The Cenacle Retreat House, Warrenville IL; for further information phone: 1-800-240-6702; fax: 630-393-2646.

 

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     On June 13, Susan Muto will give a presentation entitled “Living the Creative Tension of Self and Community in the Spiritual Life: Thomas Merton on How to be a Contemplative in a World of Action and Contemplation,” as part of the week-long “Great Schools of Spirituality” Program at The Retreat Center at St. John’s, Detroit, MI; for further information, phone: 734-414-1104; website: http://www.aodonline.org/.

 

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     On June 18-22, “A Prayer Retreat with Thomas Merton” will take place at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY, led by Dr. John H. Staggs, coordinator of the Mississippi Chapter of the ITMS.  For further information, contact Dr. Staggs at 662-369-8135, or email: merton@netdoor.com.

 

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     On June 21, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Evening of Reflection at Benet House, Rock Island IL; for further information contact: retreats@smmsisters.org

 

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     June 25-30, Anthony Padovano will direct a retreat on Thomas Merton as part of Retreats International’s annual Institute for Adult Spiritual Renewal at the Lakeshore campus of Loyola University, Chicago: for further information call 312-915-7971 or see http://www.retreatsintl.org/renewal/default.htm.    

 

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     June 25-July 6, Bruce Lescher and Clare Ronzani will teach a course on “The Spirituality of Thomas Merton” in the St. Michael’s College Graduate Theology and Pastoral Ministry Program, at the college, in Colchester, VT.  For further information, phone: 802-654-2579; email: emahoney@smcvt.edu; web site: www.smcvt.edu/theology.

 

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     July 2-6, Michael Higgins will present a course entitled “Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and Donald Nicholl: Pilgrims of Wisdom and Peace” at the Chalmers Institute of the Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC.  For further information, contact the institute at 604-822-9815 or Chalmers@vst.edu.

 

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     On July 25,at 7:00 p.m., Merton Center Director Paul M. Pearson will speak on  “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” at Martin de Porres Center, 2330 Airport Drive,Columbus, OH, in connection with the exhibit “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton,” which will run from July 2 through September 4, 2007.  For further information contact Christina Butler at: cbutler@columbusdominicans.org.

 

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     On September 8-10, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at The Cenacle Spiritual Life Center, Lantana FL; for further information, phone: 561-582-2534; fax: 561-582-8070; email: CenacleFL@aol.com.

 

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     On September 14-16, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at St. Thomas Catholic Center, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN; for further information, phone: 765-743-4652; fax: 765-743-0426; email: sttoms@sttoms-purdue.org

 

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     On September 21-23, Fr. Patrick Collins will present a Thomas Merton Spirituality Retreat at the Weber Center, Adrian MI; for further information phone: 517-266-4000; email: webercenter@adriandominicans.org.

 

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     On September 28-30, Jonathan Montaldo will present a retreat entitled “Listening One Another into Truth: Thomas Merton & Contemplative Living” at the Dominican Retreat Center, McLean, VA; for further information, phone: 703-356-4243;  email: info@dominicancenter.org.

 

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     The next “Week with Thomas Merton” Elderhostel at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY will be held from Sunday October 7, 2007 though Friday October 12, 2007.  For further information, contact Linda Bailey: phone: 502-452-8161; e-mail: lbailey@bellarmine.edu.

 

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     From October 15 through November 26, 2007, Michael Whelan CM will present a course entitled “Thomas Merton: Exploring His Thought and Spirit” at the Aquinas Academy in Sydney, Australia.  For further information phone: 612-9247-4651; fax: 612-9252-2476; email: Sandra@aquinas-academy.com.

 

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     October 26-29, a retreat entitled “Contemplation: Path to the True Self” will take place at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY, sponsored by the Cincinnati Chapter of The International Thomas Merton Society and led by ITMS Chapters Coordinator Tony Russo.  Topics to be addressed include transformation of consciousness, union with God, contemplation in Merton’s writings, centering prayer and opening to the dynamic will of God.  Retreatants will also participate in the monastic office at the abbey.  For further information contact Tony Russo, 8087 Bridgetown Road, Cleves, OH 45002; phone: 513-941-5219 email: trusso@fuse.net.

Chapter News

     On February 18, the Chicago Chapter listened to an audiotape of Fr. Daniel Berrigan’s 2005 presentation at Bellarmine University, discussing his friendship with Thomas Merton, peace activities and views on the current conflict in Iraq.  The March meeting of the chapter featured Sr. Suzanne Zuercher, OSB, who led a discussion about members’ first encounters with Merton’s work.  The Merton Study Group of the chapter is continuing to read and discuss The Inner Experience; the group, facilitated by Fr. Francis Cusack, CP, meets on the lat Monday of each month at the Passionist Monastery, 5700 N. Harlem, Chicago.  For further information contact Chapter Coordinator Mike Brennan at CC-ITMS@gmail.com.

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     On Saturday, May 12, the Corpus Christi (New York City) Chapter of the ITMS will meet from 2 to 4 p.m. to view the Morgan Atkinson film, “Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton.”  For more information visit the chapter website at: http://www.corpus-christi-nyc.org/MertonSociety.htm.

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     At its January 11 meeting, the Sacramento Chapter of the ITMS concluded its discussion of Merton’s The Waters of Siloe; on March 25, the group began to discuss The Cold War Letters.  On March 11, Jonathan Montaldo gave a presentation entitled “An Introduction to Contemplative Living” at Saint Ignatius Church, Sacramento, CA sponsored by the Chapter.  For further information contact John Berger: bergerjh@rcip.com.

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     The Thomas Merton Society of Canada sponsored a talk entitled “A Solitary Splash in a Monk’s Pond: Reflections on Thomas Merton’s Understanding of Zen and Contemplation” by Angus Stuart on January 29 at the Vancouver Central Library.  On February 26, the film A Zen Life: D.T. Suzukiwas shown, followed by a discussion led by Donald Grayston.  Monica Weis, SSJ led the group’s Winter Retreat on March 10 at St. Francis-in-the-Wood Anglican Church, entitled “Spiritual Awakenings:  Finding God in Nature,” and gave a public talk entitled “The Birds Ask:‘Is it Time to Be?’: Thomas Merton’s Moments of Spiritual Awakening” on March 12 at the Central Library.  On April 23, William Apel will speak on “Signs of Peace: The Interfaith Letters of Thomas Merton” at the Vancouver Central Library.  For further information contact Judith Hardcastle: 604-669-2546 or email tmsc@telus.net or see www.merton.ca.

 

Send all Merton-related news to:

Pat O'Connell

Box 3219

Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

Email:oconnell001@gannon.edu

The ITMS Newsletter is also available online at:

www.merton.org/ITMS

Copyright (c) The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. All rights reserved.