International Thomas Merton Society


        Vol. 16, No. 2                                    Fall, 2009

Eleventh General Meeting a Success

     “Bearing Witness to the Light: Merton’s Challenge to a Fragmented World” was the theme of the Eleventh General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society, held June 11-14 at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY.  More than 280 people attended the conference, from at least 33 states and five countries.

     Major presentations included the Springboard Address by Rachel Fell McDermott, the Keynote Address by James Conner, OCSO, and General Session addresses by Herbert Mason with Sidney Griffith and by Judith Simmer-Brown.  Donald Grayston delivered the presidential address and the closing liturgy was celebrated by Rev. William Shannon, ITMS founding president.  A roundtable on Thomas Merton and Abraham Joshua Heschel featured Edward Kaplan, Martin Kavka and Shaul Magid.  Entertainment was provided by musicians John Williams and Kate Campbell.  The conference also included five opening sessions and twenty-seven concurrent sessions, workshops and performances featuring fifty-five presenters, as well as meditation and interfaith worship sessions.

     The site coordinator for the general meeting was Christine Bochen, assisted by Kathleen Brien.  The Program Committee was chaired by Paul M. Pearson and included Christine Bochen, Jamie Fazio, ITMS President Donald Grayston, Gray Matthews, Patrick O’Connell, Bonnie Thurston and Monica Weis, SSJ.

     At the ITMS Town Meeting on Saturday afternoon of the conference, ITMS President Donald Grayston announced that the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting will take place June 9-12, 2011 at Loyola University, Chicago, IL.  Donald Grayston will chair the program Committee and Michael Brennan will serve as Site Coordinator; other members of the committee include Christine Bochen, Vaughn Fayle, OFM, ITMS President Robert Grip, ITMS Treasurer Paul Pearson, Monica Weis, SSJ and Suzanne Zuercher, OSB.  

New Officers and Board

     The Officers and Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society for 2009-2011 were announced by outgoing president Donald Grayston at the Town Meeting of the ITMS Eleventh General Meeting on June 13, 2008 at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY.  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 a slate prepared by the ITMS nominating committee, Judith Hardcastle (chair), David Belcastro and Monica Weis, SSJ.

     Officers are Robert Grip, president; Lynn R. Szabo, vice-president; Donna Kristoff, OSU, secretary; and Paul M. Pearson, treasurer.  Newly elected members of the board are: William Apel, David Belcastro and Gray Matthews.  Returning members are: James Conner, OCSO, Kathleen Deignan, CND, and Monica Weis, SSJ.  As immediate past president, Donald Grayston will also continue to serve as a voting member of the Board.  Meghan Robinson and Timothy Shaffer will serve as non-voting youth representatives to the Board.

     Robert Grip, news anchor at WALA television in Mobile, AL, has served as an ITMS Board member, treasurer and vice president.  He has also been program chair for the ITMS Fifth General Meeting and chair of the ITMS membership committee and has regularly presented the “First-timer’s Session” at ITMS General Meetings.

     Lynn Szabo teaches English literature and creative writing at Trinity Western University in British Columbia.  She has served as an ITMS Board member and as chair of the ITMS retreat committee, and is a former Shannon Fellow and former member of the Board of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada.  She is editor of In the Dark before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (2005).

     Donna Kristoff, OSU, director of the Cleveland Chapter of the ITMS and a former ITMS Board member, is serving her third term as secretary.  She is an artist and graphic designer who has regularly created logos for ITMS general meetings, and writes and speaks frequently on Merton and art. 

     Paul M. Pearson is director and archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, and serves as resident secretary of the ITMS.  He is editor, most recently, of A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence of Thomas Merton with Edward Deming and Faith Andrews (2008). 

     Donald Grayston, a priest of the Anglican diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia, retired in 2004 after fifteen years of teaching Religious Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, for the last three years of which he was director of the Institute for the Humanities.  He is a former president of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada as well as of the ITMS.

     William Apel is professor of religion at Linfield College in McMinnville, OR.  A 2007 Shannon Fellow, he is author most recently of Signs of Peace: The Interfaith Letters of Thomas Merton (2006).

     David Belcastro is professor and chair of religious studies at Capitol University, Bexley, OH, and co-editor of The Merton Annual.  He has presented papers at every ITMS general meeting.

     James Conner, OCSO, a current member of the ITMS Board, is a monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani and former abbot of Assumption Abbey, Ava, MO.  He served as fourth president of the ITMS, and has spoken and written widely on Merton, with whom he worked as Undermaster of Novices in the 1960s.

     Kathleen Deignan, CND, a current member of the ITMS Board, is founder and director of the Spirituality Institute at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, and director of Schola Ministries, a liturgical music group, which has issued a dozen collections of her original sacred songs.  She is editor, most recently, of Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours (2007), which has recently been issued in CD format with music.

     Gray Matthews, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Memphis, is a former ITMS Board member, served as site coordinator for the ITMS Tenth General Meeting, and is currently co-editor of The Merton Annual.

     Monica Weis, SSJ, Profesor of English and Director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, is a former ITMS vice-president and current member of the Board. She is author of Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise (2005).

     ITMS President Robert Grip also announced that ITMS members from six countries will serve as International Advisors for 2007-2009.  They are: Detlev Cuntz, Herzogenaurach, Germany; Dirk Doms, Bruges, Belgium; Fiona Gardner, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, England; Fernando Beltrán Llavador, Salamanca, Spain; Malgorzata Poks, Koszecin, Poland; and Raymond J. Schmack, Christchurch, New Zealand. 

     John King will serve as ITMS Chapters Coordinator.  Chairs of ITMS committees include: Virginia Ratigan and Jamie Fazio, Daggy Scholarship; Robert Grip, Long-Range Planning; Lynn Szabo, Membership; Andrea Neuhoff, Outreach; Patrick O’Connell, Publications; Mary Somerville, Retreats; Joseph Raab, Shannon Fellowship.

Louies Awarded

     The 2009 Thomas Merton Awards, informally known as “Louies,” were presented by outgoing ITMS president Donald Grayston on June 11, 2009 at the opening banquet of the ITMS Eleventh General Meeting at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY.  The award is a bronze bust of Thomas Merton created by sculptor David Kocka.  The recipient of the “International” award, given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the promotion of Merton’s message on an international level, is David Scott; the recipient of the “Thomas Merton” award, given to an individual who has written and published in the period since the last general meeting a work on Merton that has brought provocative insight and fresh direction to Merton studies, is Malgorzata Poks; the recipient of the “Society” award, given to a member of the ITMS whose distinguished service has contributed to the aims of the Society and the furthering of its goals, is Virginia Ratigan.


     Canon David Scott organized the December 1993 Merton Conference in Winchester which led to the founding of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He has been involved with the TMS-GBI since its beginning, and has spoken widely at Merton Conferences and other events.   A widely published poet, playwright and spiritual writer, for the past decade he has been warden of the School of Spirituality for the Anglican Diocese of Winchester as well as Rector of the Parish of St. Lawrence with St. Swithun upon Kingsgate.


     Malgorzata Poks is the author of Thomas Merton and Latin America: A Consonance of Voices (2007), a comprehensive examination of Merton’s translations of Latin American poets in the context of his overall engagement with the history and culture of Central and South America.  She teaches American literature at the English Teacher Training College in Sosnowiec and at the Academy of Business Administration and Foreign Languages in Katowice, Poland.  

     Virginia Ratigan is a former member of the ITMS Board and long-time co-chair of the ITMS Daggy Scholars program, through which she has mentored more than a hundred young people in their engagement with the life and work of Thomas Merton and with the Merton Society.  She is emeritus professor of Religious Studies at Rosemont College, Radnor, PA, where her focus was on spirituality, women and religion, and the work of Thomas Merton.

Shannon Fellowships Awarded

    At its June meeting, the ITMS Board of Directors awarded 2009-2010 Shannon Fellowships to three scholars: Mary Frances Coady, Gray Matthews and Mark Meade.  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 included: Joseph Raab, chair, John Collins, Robert Grip and Bonnie Thurston.


     Mary Frances Coady is a free-lance writer and teacher from Toronto.  Her project will focus on the unpublished correspondence between Thomas Merton and Evelyn Waugh.

     Gray Matthews is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Memphis.  His project will focus on locating, collecting and securing for transcription, critical evaluation and eventual publication the sermons of Thomas Merton.

     Mark Meade is assistant archivist at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.  His project will explore the mutual interest of Thomas Merton and James Laughlin in Latin American poets through examination of materials in the Laughlin archives at the Houghton Library of Harvard University.  


     The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2010-2011 is March 15, 2010.  Awards must be used between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011.  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 (or $40 to include The Merton Annual), 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:  The committee’s recommendations will be presented at the June, 2010 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 Awarded

    Twenty-two young people were able to attend the ITMS Eleventh General Meeting at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, 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.  The selection committee for this year’s scholars included Virginia Ratigan and Cristóbal Serran-Pagán, co-chairs, Kathleen Deignan and David Odorisio.  ITMS President Robert Grip noted that at this year’s conference thirteen presenters were former or current Daggy Scholars, evidence that the program’s purpose of encouraging and fostering the development of a new generation of Merton scholars is proving to be very successful. 


     This year’s recipients included: Katie Clancy, a 2007 graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; Amanda Hagadorn, a student at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY; Alan Hartman, a graduate student in the MA program in theology at the University of Scranton; Natalie Hemraj, a candidate for a Master’s degree in education at York University, Toronto; Daniel Horan, OFM, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and currently a graduate student at the Washington Theological Union; Nicole Hyziak, a senior at Nazareth College; Carolyn Kwiatkowski, a senior studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Spanish Language and Culture at Nazareth College; Donald Lefeber, a recent graduate of the International Studies Program at the University of St. Thomas in Houston; Aimee Liu, a graduate student at Hubei University of Education in Hubei, China; Yulian Liu, an alumna of the undergraduate and graduate programs in Psychology at Wuhan University, Hubei Province, China; Joseph Madonna, a student at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY; Ann Miano, a 2009 graduate of Reed College, Portland, OR; Dennis Moller, a student at Seton Hall University, S. Orange, NJ; Courtney Murray, a graduate of Davidson College and Arizona State University; Stephen Naum, a student in the Religious Studies Program at Nazareth College; Brian Questa, a student at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and a parishioner at Corpus Christi Church; Shawn Quinn, a Religious Studies and American Studies major at Nazareth College; Jonathan Reid, a student in the Ph.D. program in History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Valeria Savino, a senior at Iona College; David Schuh, a student at the Kagyu Thubten Choling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Wappingers Falls, NY; Ryan Scruggs, a graduate of Alberta Bible College in Calgary who is completing his MA thesis on Thomas Merton at McGill University in Montreal; and Andrew Seymour, a 2009 graduate of Hampshire College, Amherst, MA.

Constant Broos (1933-2009)

     Constant (Stan) Broos, founder of the Mertonvrienden (Merton Friends) of the Low Countries, an ITMS affiliate, died July 9, 2009 at Bonheiden, Belgium.  He served for many years as an ITMS International Advisor, and in 1991 was the first recipient of the “Louie” International award from the ITMS, given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the promotion of Merton’s message on an international level.  The Mertonvrienden was begun in 1985 and thus is the oldest continuous Merton society in the world, predating the founding of the ITMS by two years; it publishes Contactblad Mertonvrienden, a quarterly Dutch-language Merton journal now in its twenty-third year.

William J. Schickel (1919-2009)

    Liturgical architect William J. Schickel died July 14, 2009.  Born in Stamford, CT on August 13, 1919 and raised in Ithaca, NY, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1944 and worked as a sculptor, painter, stained-glass artist, furniture designer and architect for more than six decades.  He was married for sixty years to the late Mary Frei Schickel, and was closely associated with the Grail community of Loveland, OH, whose oratory he designed.  Among his many projects was the renovation of the church and cloister of the Abbey of Gethsemani, for which he was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ gold medal.  Thomas Merton’s letter expressing his appreciation for Schickel’s work at Gethsemani is published in Witness to Freedom.  He is survived by his eleven children and more than fifty grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO (1930-2008)

    Father Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO, noted Cistercian liturgist and scholar and a fellow monk of Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani for almost two decades, died November 23, 2008, at the age of 78.  Born in the Philippines in 1930 while his father was stationed there in the military, he later studied music composition for two years at the Philadelphia Conservatory.  He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1949 and entered Gethsemani the following year.  He was ordained a priest in 1958 and in the early 1960s pursued further theological studies at the College of San Anselmo in Rome.  He served the community as choirmaster for a number of years and composed numerous works throughout his life for use in the revised monastic liturgy.  He served as a consultor on chant and translations to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).  For nearly thirty years, Fr Chrysogonus lived in a hermitage on the monastery grounds about a mile from the abbey.  He was also editor of numerous early Cistercian texts, including Twelfth-Century Statutes from the Cistercian General Chapter, The Twelfth-Century Cistercian Hymnal and Narrative and Legislative Texts from Early Cîteaux; he has been called the most significant scholar of early Cistercianism of the twentieth century.  Fr. Chrysogonus wrote two articles on Merton, both published in The Merton Annual (vols. 2 [1989] and 5 [1992]); an extensive interview about his relationship with Merton, conducted by Victor Kramer, also appeared in the Annual (vol. 11 [1998]).  He published Merton’s conferences on “Sanctity in the Epistles of St. Paul” in Liturgy OCSO, 30-31 (1996-97), of which he was editor.  Two of Merton’s letters written to Fr. Chrysogonus in Rome are included in The School of Charity.

Merton Reading List Available

    A new booklet entitled Grounded in Love: A Thomas Merton Reading List, compiled by Merton bibliographer Patricia A. Burton, has recently been issued by The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living.  The 24-page, 5.5" x 8.5" booklet consists of three sections, “Merton’s Books” (7-15), “Selections” (16-17) and “Resources” (18-20), prefaced by the editor’s introductory overview “To the Reader” (4-6) and concluding with an Index (21-24) of all volumes listed.  Part I includes 95 works by Merton, each with publishing information and a brief description, sorted into thirteen categories: “Autobiography,” “Christian Classics,” “Further Explorations,” “Journals,” “Monastic Spirituality,” “Church and Liturgy,” “Peace and Social Justice,” “Literature,” “Poetry,” “Letters,” “Photography and Art,” “Transcribed Conferences and Talks,” and “Teaching Notes.” Part II includes 21 volumes of selections compiled by various editors, in five categories: “Samplers,” “Devotional Calendars,” “Contemplation,” “Seasons” and “Special Interest.”  Part III includes information on “Where to Find Books” (new, used and in libraries), “The Merton World: Online Resources” (including the Merton Institute, Merton Center, ITMS, and Merton Societies of Great Britain and of Canada), “Dedicated Merton Publications” (Seasonal, Annual and Journal) and a sampling of fourteen “Books About Merton” (Introduction, Biographies, “Merton and Friends,” Encyclopedia, Bibliographies).  The publication is available for $2.50 (including postage) from The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, 2117 Payne Street, Louisville, KY 40206; further information can be obtained from the Institute at 800-866-7275 or

Owen Merton Art Collection at Merton Center

    Over the years, the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University has acquired a number of paintings and drawings by Merton’s father Owen, thus fulfilling a desire Merton expressed in a 1966 letter to his aunt Gwynedd Merton Trier, in which he wrote: “do you think there is any possibility of finding Father’s pictures, if they survived the war, and doing something about them?  Perhaps an exhibition could be arranged in this country and then those not sold could be placed somewhere where they could be seen.”  In the fall of 2008 the Center was offered the possibility of purchasing a further collection of Owen’s paintings that had remained in private hands.  At that time, the Center managed to find funds to purchase twelve of the available paintings, including watercolors of St. Antonin and Prades, and during the summer of 2009 purchased another four works, thus doubling the Center’s holdings.  These recent acquisitions, along with the watercolors already in the collection, can be viewed on the Center’s web site at:  The Merton Center has not been in a position financially to purchase the entire available collection; there are still more than twenty Owen Merton paintings for sale, which the Center is hoping to raise funds to purchase.  Any readers of the Merton Seasonal who might be able to assist financially with this project are requested to contact Merton Center Director and Archivist Paul M. Pearson at or by phone at 502-452-8177.

TMSC Call for Papers

      On March 6, 2010 the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and Canadian Memorial Church & Centre for Peace will co-sponsor a one-day conference in Vancouver, BC, entitled “Fulfillment through Interfaith Engagement” at the church; on March 13, the Society will sponsor a conference with the same title at the University Club of Victoria, BC.  The keynote speaker for the Vancouver conference will be Bonnie Thurston.  The conference theme is inspired by Thomas Merton’s letter of January 13, 1961 to Dona Luisa Coomaraswamy, in which he wrote, “I believe that the only really valid thing that can be accomplished in the direction of world peace and unity at the moment is the preparation of the way by the formation of [people] who are . . . able to unite in themselves and experience in their own lives all that is best and most true in the various great spiritual traditions.”

     Proposals are invited for talks, workshops and artistic presentations at a concurrent session of one or both conferences.  Talks should last about 40 minutes, leaving 20 minutes for discussion; while papers can be read, it is hoped that speakers will adapt them, in whole or in part, to the style of an oral presentation.  Ninety minutes is allotted for workshops and artistic presentations.  Proposals may address any aspect of the topic, and should include as well, in brief or extended fashion, some discussion of the writings of Thomas Merton.  Each proposal, of a maximum length of a single page, should clearly indicate  whether it is  intended as a talk, a workshop, or an artistic presentation, and if it is being submitted for the Vancouver Conference, the Victoria Conference, or both.  Proposals should also include a short (3-6 line) biography of the presenter.  They should be sent electronically by November 1, 2009 to TMSC Program Director Judith Hardcastle, at and to TMSC President Ross Labrie, at

Call for Papers: "Thomas Merton: Voice of the Poet and the Prophet"at CEA 2010

    Annual Conference - March 25-27, 2010 - Sheraton Gunter Hotel; 209 East Houston Street, San Antonio, TX 78205

    The College English Association, a gathering of scholar-teachers in English studies, welcomes proposals for presentations on "Thomas Merton: Voice of the Poet and the Prophet" for our 41st annual conference.

    Proposals (150-200 words) for paper on any aspect of Thomas Merton's writing (essays, poetry, letters) that illustrates how he is a major 20th century voice commenting on and critiquing various aspects of contemporary culture. The paper should be conceived to be read in 15 minutes ( 7-8 page double-spaced paper) Contact Monica Weis SSJ --if you have questions.]

Thomas Merton in Cuba Pilgrimage Tour

    The Thomas Merton Society of Canada is sponsoring a 15-day pilgrimage program in Cuba, January 16-30, 2010.  The tour, led by Donald Grayston and Judith Hardcastle, will follow Merton’s footsteps from Havana to Matanzas, Santa Clara, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba, Ciego de Avila and Trinidad, as well as focusing on Merton’s later engagement with Cuban affairs after the 1959 revolution.  The cost is Can$2650 (double occupancy; single supplement: Can$369), which includes all hotels and breakfasts, some lunches and dinners, modern luxury tour coach and full-time government certified driver from airport arrival to departure, an expert Cuban guide and translator, and all activities and Merton sessions.  Group size is limited to 20.  For more information, see or contact Judith Hardcastle at

ITMS Authors

Bonnie Thurston has recently published For God Alone: A Primer on Prayer (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009) ($18.00), which uses the traditional categories of meditatio, oratio and contemplatio to present ways to understand and practice prayer. Lawrence Cunningham writes of this book, “Bonnie Thurston is an accomplished scholar and teacher as well as a profound person of prayer and Christian witness. In this volume she wears her considerable learning lightly, such that the witness of her own practice comes through both lucidly and with quiet passion.”

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Robert Waldron’s 15 Days of Prayer with Henri Nouwen ($12.95) is scheduled for publication in October 2009 by New City Press as part if its series featuring a brief biography of the spiritual guide and a sequence of daily meditation sessions with focus points and reflections. Nouwen (1932-1996) was the author of dozens of books on spirituality including an introduction to Thomas Merton, Pray to Live.

Book of Hours CD Available

     At Prayer with Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours on CD is an “audio breviary” created by Kathleen Deignan, CND, with the participation of Jonathan Montaldo of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living and Paul Avgerinos of Studio Unicorn.  It is composed of prayers, poems and psalms of Thomas Merton drawn from her edited volume Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours (Sorin Books 2007), which has sold over 40,000 copies, interlaced with her own compositions of sacred song to form a sound tapestry for daily morning and evening prayer.  The double CD is available for $20 from Schola Ministries, 94 Worth Avenue, Mt. Carmel, CT 06518; email:; phone: 888-288-1100; it may also be purchased on-line through or

Award for Merton Article

    Paul M. Pearson’s article “Thomas Merton, Archivist,” which appeared in the December 2008 (79:2) issue of Catholic Library World, was selected by the CLW Editorial Committee as the winner of the 2010 John Brubaker Memorial Award as the best article in the previous volume of CLW.  The award will be presented at the Catholic Library Association’s 2010 Convention, to be held April 6-8 in Minneapolis.

Bethany Spring Retreat Scholarships Available

     The Magee Foundation has awarded a grant to Bethany Spring, the Retreat Center of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, to provide retreat scholarships for clergy, seminarians, and those who work in congregational ministry of all denominations.  The scholarships are intended for those in need of respite who also need financial assistance to make a directed or private retreat at Bethany Spring, located in New Haven, KY, one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani. Retreat scholarships funded by the Fetzer Institute are also available for individuals wishing to facilitate Bridges to Contemplative Living groups. To apply for either scholarship, or to request further information, contact Vanessa Hurst at; phone: 502-899-1991.

Merton Happenings

       On September 6, 2008, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Environmental Prophet” for the Merton Community of Palo Alto, CA.

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     On September 24, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Praying the Hours with Thomas Merton” at Sacred Heart Parish, New Paltz, NY.

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     On October 25, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Soul of the Age” for the Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY.

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     On November 1, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Notes on the Inner Experience” for the Spiritual Directors Seminar at Mariandale Spirituality Center, Mariandale, NY.

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     On November 14-16, Kathleen Deignan, CND presented a program entitled “Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Conversation on Healing the Natural World” for the Appalachian Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation at the Jubilee House Retreat Center in Abingdon, VA.

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     On December 10, 2008, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Soul of the Age” for the Redemptorist Community, Queens, NY.

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     On January 23-25, 2009, Kathleen Deignan, CND presented a program entitled “Masters of Cosmos and of Soul: Thomas Berry and Thomas Merton in Dialogue” for the Sophia Institute Graduate Program in Spirituality and Culture at Holy Names University, Oakland CA.

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     Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a series of three presentations entitled “Thomas Merton: Environmental Prophet” for the Catholic Consortium at St. Mary Parish Center, Wycoff, NJ on January 28, February 4 and February 11, 2009.

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     On February 19, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Recovering Paradise: Thomas Merton’s Wisdom for Christians of the Ecological Age” for the Carmelite Forum of New Jersey at St. Anastasia Parish in Teaneck. 

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     On March 14, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Soul of the Age” at the Inis Fada Ignatian Center, Douglaston, NY.

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     On May 7, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Reading the Scripture of Creation: A Brief Tutorial with Thomas Berry and Thomas Merton” as part of “An Interfaith Program on Healing the Earth within Abrahamic Traditions,” sponsored by Sacred Journey, at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ.

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     On May 22, Pat O’Connell gave a presentation entitled “The Traditional Sources of Thomas Merton’s Environmental Spirituality” at the College Theology Society Annual Meeting at the University of Notre Dame.

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     On June 17, Br. Daniel Horan, OFM presented a workshop titled: “Seeing the World Anew: Exploring Photography as Prayer with Thomas Merton” at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA.

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     On June 27, Fiona Gardner gave a presentation for the Southern Chapter of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland entitled “Exploring the Intra-Faith Dialogue of Thomas Merton” at the Sisters of Bethany, Southsea, UK.

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     On July 4, Pat O’Connell led a one-day conference entitled “Merton and Spirituality: A Unifying Vision” at Sacred Heart Church, Victoria, BC.

Upcoming Events

    On six Mondays, beginning September 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. Donald Grayston will facilitate a discussion group entitled “Revelations from Asia: Thomas Merton’s Spiritual Odyssey” at the Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre in Vancouver, BC.  The sessions will consider Merton’s transcultural understandings of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and the politics of his day through a close reading of The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton along with regular reference to the weblog constructed by Thomas Merton Society of Canada board member Rob Pollock ( which travels virtually with Merton in parallel with the dated entries in the journal and contextualizes Merton’s journey with the culture of the time.  For further information, contact Julian Benedict at; phone: 778-782-5212.

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     September 11-13, Walt Chura will direct the annual “Thomas Merton in the  Mountains” contemplative retreat at Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY.  The cost is $130 per person, all inclusive.  For further information about registration or accommodations, call 518-585-7545 or see

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     Upcoming events at Bethany Spring, the Retreat Center of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living in New Haven, KY, include: Bridges to Contemplative Living Retreats, with Jonathan Montaldo et al.: September 21-23, October 5-7, 12-14, 26-28, November 2-4, 16-18; Advent Bridges to Contemplative Living Retreats, with Jonathan Montaldo et al.: December 4-6, 7-9, 14-16, 18-20; Reading Mary Oliver: An American Contemplative in Residence: October 19-21; Praying with the Body at the Turning of the Year, with Bonnie Thurston: October 30-November 1; Beauty of a Faith, with Debra Claussen: November 9-11;The Language the Earth Speaks – A Contemplative and Creative Retreat for Artists and Writers: November 20-22; Thanksgiving at Bethany Spring: November 25-28; Christmas at Bethany Spring: December 23-26.  For further information, email:; phone: 502-899-1991.

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     On September 24, Pat O’Connell will give a presentation entitled “The Augustinian Two Cities in Thomas Merton’s Tower of Babel” as part of the Conference on Christianity and Literature mid-west regional meeting at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.

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    On September 26, Dr. Anthony Bannon will give a presentation entitled "The Circus of the Sun – Light & Shadow" on the Merton – Robert Lax friendship, including Lax’s work as an artist in poems and photographs at Corpus Christi Church, 529 West 121st Street, New York, NY 10027 from 2 pm - 4 pm.

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     On September 28, Paul M. Pearson will give a presentation entitled “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Otto A. Shults Community Center, Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, to conclude the exhibit of Merton photographs with the same title in the Lorette Wilmot Library at Nazareth.

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     On October 1, Jonathan Greene, Paul M. Pearson and Frederick Smock will discuss the Thomas Merton Series, published by Broadstone Books, at the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort, KY.  For further information, contact Diane Dehoney:; phone: 502-352-2665 ext. 108.

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     On October 10, Jim Forest will present a program entitled “Walking the Road to Emmaus: Thomas Merton’s Pilgrimage and Prayer with Icons” at Bon Secours Spiritual Center, Marriottsville, MD.  Cost is $35 before September 1; $40 after September 1.  For further information, see:; phone: 410-442-1320; e-mail:

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     The Fall 2009 Thomas Merton Elderhostel will be held October 11-16, 2009 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY; the dates for the Spring 2010 Elderhostel are March 14-19; for further information contact Linda Bailey at; phone: 502-452-8161.

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     On October 31, Peter Tyler will lead a day of reflection entitled “Merton – Post-modern Guide for Troubled Times” at the Sion Center for Dialogue and Encounter, Chepstow Villas, London; the cost is ₤14 for members of the Merton Society, ₤17 for non-members; cheques (payable to the Thomas Merton Society) should be sent to Stephen Dunhill, 2 Western Villas, Western Road, Crediton, Devon EX17 3NA.

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    On November 7, Fr. James Conner O.C.S.O. will lead a day of reflection for the Corpus Christi Chapter of the ITMS. From 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Corpus Christi Church, 529 West 121st Street, New York, NY 10027.

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    The Life and Thought of Thomas Merton led by Bonnie Thurston. This is an introduction to the life and thought of Thomas Merton with special attention to his teaching on monastic spirituality and the contemplative life. This course will be held at the Kearns Spirituality Center, which is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Divine Providence in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. We will keep a modified monastic schedule, praying the Offices and keeping the Great Silence from after the evening session until Morning Prayer, roughly 12 hours. / Sun., Jan. 10, 7:00 p.m. – Fri., Jan. 15, 12:00 p.m., 2010 / $350 / 3.0 CEUs plus certificate credit. For further information please contact: or 412-924-1345.

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    Sunday 12/20/09 movie producer and author Morgan Atkinson will discuss and screen his short-film, “The Abbey of Gethsemani: A School of the Lord's Service” at St. Francis of Assisi, 1960 Bardstown Road, Louisville at 7 pm in the church. This event is free, and open to the public. For further information please contact Kevin Wilson.

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    On January 30th, Arthur W. Biddle will give a presentation entitled "The Monk & the Dreamcatcher – A Friendship of the Spirit" at Corpus Christi Church, 529 West 121st Street, New York, NY 10027  from 2 pm - 4 pm.

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     On February 22, 2010, Rev. Bryan Massingale will present the Fourth Annual Thomas Merton Black History Month Lecture, entitled “Engaging Racism: Thomas Merton, the Church and Racial Justice,” at Frazier Hall of Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.  Fr. Massingale, President of the Catholic Theological Society of America and convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, teaches social ethics at Marquette University in Milwaukee.   The lecture, sponsored by the Bellarmine University Office of Multicultural Affairs, is free and open to the public.

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     From February 26 through April 11, 2010, the Wasmer Gallery at Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, OH, will host “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton.”  The opening reception on February 27 will feature a lecture by Paul M. Pearson.  For further information contact Frank Frate:; or Sr. Donna Kristoff:

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     On March 12-14, 2010, Donald Bisson, FMS will lead a retreat entitled “Merton and Jung: Journey to the True Self” at Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center, Litchfield, CT; fees range from $185 to $255 for room and meals; $155 for commuters.  For further information, see:; phone: 860-567-3163; email:

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     On March 23, Paul M. Pearson will give a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Poet, Monk, Prophet” at the Nelson Co. Public Library in Bardstown, KY.  For further information contact Carol Elliott:; phone: 502-348-3714.

Chapter and Affiliate News

       On April 4, the Washington, DC Chapter sponsored a presentation by Sidney Griffith of the Catholic University of America on “Thomas Merton’s Path to Interreligious Understanding: Sharing the Experience of Divine Light” at St. Anselm’s Abbey School.  For further information contact John Farrelly, OSB:; phone: 202-269-2300.      

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    At its May 9 meeting, the Corpus Christi (NYC) ITMS Chapter heard Dr. Edward Kaplan’s presentation on “Merton and Judaism: The Prophetic Voice – Merton, Heschel and Vatican II.”  At its September 26 meeting, the group will hear a presentation on Robert Lax’s poem Circus of the Sun.  For further information, see the chapter website:

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     The Mid-Michigan Chapter of the ITMS, located in East Lansing, met once a month during its first year and discussed topics from various Merton books including New Seeds of Contemplation, No Man Is an Island, and The Wisdom of the Desert.  Guest speaker Dr. Rudy Bernard shared insights about his time as a fellow monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani with Merton (1949-1951).  For further information contact Mark Shaw:

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     On July 15 and August 12, the Wall, NJ ITMS Chapter discussed In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton.  On September 16 and October 14, the group will discuss Merton’s Faith and Violence.  For further information, contact Greg Ryan at; phone: 732-681-6238.

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     At its July 26 meeting, the Northern California ITMS Chapter concluded its discussion of Merton’s Disputed Questions and began discussion of The Inner Experience, which will continue at the September 27 and November 22 meetings.  For further information contact John Berger at

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     At its August 8 meeting at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, the Lafayette, OR ITMS Chapter heard presentations by Br. Mark Filut on “Telling Our Stories With Uncle Louie” and Bill Apel on “Holiness: Merton and Abraham Heschel.”  For further information, contact Doug Speers at; phone: 503-246-0722.

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     At its July 27 meeting, the Chicago ITMS Chapter’s Merton Reading Group continued its discussion of the essays in The Vision of Thomas Merton.  The annual chapter picnic was held on Sunday, August 16 on the grounds of the Passionist Monastery; those who attended the ITMS general meeting in Rochester shared about their favorite parts of the conference.  For further information, contact Mike Brennan at; phone: 774-447-3989; chapter information is also available at

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     On November 7, the inaugural meeting of the Randwick, Australia ITMS Chapter will meet at St. Jude’s Church; the group will view the DVD of Thomas Merton: A Film Biography and discuss Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain.  For further information contact Rev. Glenn Loughrey, phone: 0418 911 714; email:


Send all Merton-related news to:

Pat O'Connell

Box 3219

Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

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