International Thomas Merton Society


        Vol. 17, No. 2                                    Fall, 2010

2011 General Meeting Program Set

     At its June meeting, the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society approved the program for the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting, to be held June 9-12, 2011 at the Lake Shore Campus of Loyola University, Chicago, IL. The theme of the meeting, which will mark the seventieth anniversary of Merton’s entry into the Abbey of Gethsemani on December 10, 1941, is “With Roots in Eternity: Merton, the Desert and the City.” Major speakers include Doug Christie, Martin Marty, Bishop Robert Morneau and Esther de Waal. The program will also feature an address by ITMS President Robert Grip, thirty concurrent sessions, workshops and guided prayer sessions, meditation, liturgy and entertainment.

Major Speakers include:
Doug Christie, author of the award-winning book The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism, is editor of Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality and teaches in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Martin Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, is the author of more than fifty books on Church history and related topics, including Righteous Empire, winner of the National Book Award.
Robert Morneau has served as auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WI for more than three decades; he has authored numerous books, including A New Heart: Eleven Qualities of Holiness, and is a highly respected retreat director.
Esther de Waal is an Anglican scholar of Benedictine and Celtic Christian spiritual traditions, whose books include A Seven-Day Journey with Thomas Merton. She lives in England near the Welsh border.

Opening sessions on Thursday afternoon of the conference will include a “First-Timers’ Orientation” with Bob Grip; “ITMS Chapters Workshop” with John King; two “Emerging Scholars” sessions with Katharine Bubel, Eric Anglada & Vanessa Wibberley, and with Valerie Savino, Hans Gustafson & Joseph Madonna; “Researching Merton” with Mark Meade & Andrea Neuhoff; “Merton: Monasticism East and West” with Nass Cannon & Brendan Collins; “Merton and the Challenge of Technology” with Paul Dekar & Gary Purdy; “Merton and Inspiration for Ministry” with Nancy Breitsprecher, Judith Hardcastle, Hyeokil Kwon & William Mangrum. A roundtable on Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day featuring Robert Ellsberg, Tom Cornell and Rosalie Riegle is scheduled for Sunday morning. The closing liturgy will be celebrated by former ITMS president James Conner, OCSO. On Saturday evening, Fr. Vaughan Fayle, OFM will present “Thomas Merton’s Celestial and Urban Music,” a concert of Merton’s poetry set to music.

Concurrent sessions include:
• “Merton and Contemporary Culture”: Daniel P. Horan, OFM & Jeff Kiernan;
• “Merton and Ecology”: Kenneth M. Voiles;
• “Merton and Marxism”: Marc Boswell & David Golemboski;
• “Merton and Monastic Vision”: Christine Bochen & Young-Suck Moon;
• “Merton and Poetic Imagination”: Malgorzata Poks & Lynn Szabo;
• “Merton and the Education of the Heart”: Ty Anderson & Mary McDonald;
• “Merton and the Human Community”: Larry Culliford & Steven Millies;
• “Merton and the Wild Ones”: Mac McGoldrick & Angus Stuart;
• “Merton and Two Historical Voices”: Kathleen Deignan, CND & Joshua Hollmann;
• “Merton: Camus, Milosz, Hopkins”: David Belcastro & Mary Sommerset;
• “Merton: Desert and City”: Patrick Cousins & Christopher Pramuk;
• “Merton in Correspondence”: Maria Barrera & Fiona Gardner;
• “Merton: Paradox and Struggle”: Lars Adolfsson & Edward Kaplan;
• “Merton: Shaping a Culture of Justice”: William Apel & Robert Weldon Whalen;
• “Merton: Vision and Revision”: Mary Frances Coady & Patrick F. O’Connell;
• “Merton’s Mysticism: City and Cosmos”: Robert Peach & Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán.

Workshops, Guided Prayer & Special Presentations include:
• “Another Door To Contemplation: Wisdom in Thomas Merton’s Art”: Mary Louise Heffernan;
• “Doing Lectio with Thomas Merton”: Suzanne Zuercher, OSB;
• “Drawn into the Mystery: Art-Journaling”: Marianne Hieb;
• “Finding the Sky Within”: Monica Weis, SSJ;
• “Merton and Cuba: 1940, 1959, 1962”: Donald Grayston;
• “Merton and Dorothy Day: Pilgrims and Prophets of Peace”: David Hoover & Sharon Halsey-Hoover;
• “Merton and Mission”: Mark Filut, OCSO;
• “Merton and the Marginalized”: Mark Colville, Tom Goekler & Marty Shea;
• “Merton and the Space-In-Between”: Glenn Loughrey;
• “The Paradox of Place: Experiencing ‘All the Times and Moods of One Good Place’ with Thomas Merton”: Paul M. Pearson;
• “Seeing Through the Eyes of Thomas Merton: The New York Years”: Jan Sheridan;
• “A Signed Confession of Crimes Against the State”: Gray Matthews;
• “Soul Friends: Merton and Modern Poets”: Charles Reynard & Judith Valente;
• “Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin”: Morgan Atkinson.

The program committee for the Twelfth General Meeting is chaired by ITMS Past President Donald Grayston, with Michael Brennan as site coordinator; other members of the committee include Christine M. Bochen, Vaughn Fayle, ITMS President Robert G. Grip, Paul M. Pearson, Monica Weis, SSJ and Suzanne Zuercher, OSB.

Registration materials, with further information on the schedule, costs and accommodations for the conference will be included in the Winter 2010 issue of The Merton Seasonal. Information is available at the Merton Center/ITMS web site:; a conference blog with profiles of speakers and continuously updated information on events can be found at:

Shannon Fellowships Awarded

     At its June meeting, the ITMS Board of Directors awarded 2010-2011 Shannon Fellowships to two scholars: Daniel Horan, OFM, for a project on the role of the Franciscan tradition in Thomas Merton’s understanding of vocation and ongoing conversion; and Malgorzata Poks, for a project on anthropology, literary theory and post-structuralism in Merton’s The Geography of Lograire.” 

     The Shannon Fellowship program was established in 1997 in honor of Fr. William H. Shannon, 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 Joseph Quinn Raab, chair; John Collins, Jessica Funk, Fiona Gardner and Andrea Neuhoff.    

     The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2011-2012 is March 15, 2011.  Awards must be used between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.  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.  Fellowships may be granted a maximum of two times to any applicant.

     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, 2011 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 Eleventh General Meeting of the ITMS, to be held at Loyola University, Chicago, IL, June 9-12, 2011.  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.  The 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, 2011, to the scholarship committee chair, Jamie Fazio, Nazareth College, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618-3790; e-mail:  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. Application forms are available at:

     Any ITMS member who knows an eligible young person / student that would benefit from attending the 2011 General Meeting in Chicago should encourage him or her to apply for a scholarship.

Dorothy Day Materials at Merton Center

    A large collection of original letters by Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, and other materials relating to the Catholic Worker, has recently been donated to the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. The bequest was made by the family of Joseph and Mary Alice Lautner Zarrella, early members of the movement who worked with Day in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The collection, valued at $115,000, includes hundreds of photographs from the early years of the Worker and a nearly complete set of The Catholic Worker monthly newspaper, from its first issue in 1933 to about 1990, along with dozens of letters from Day, both from the time when Joe Zarrella was managing the CW house of hospitality in lower Manhattan and from later years after the Zarrellas had moved from New York back to Mary Alice Zarrella’s home town of Tell City, IN, where the couple raised their four daughters.  The Zarrellas met while both were members of the New York Catholic Worker community and married in 1942.  After the couple died, Joe in March, 2006 and Mary Alice in March, 2007, their family decided to donate the extensive collection of CW memorabilia to Bellarmine, where almost a dozen members of the family had been educated.  Paul M. Pearson, director and archivist of the Merton Center, notes the appropriateness of housing the collection at the Merton Center, which already includes in its archives Merton’s extensive correspondence with Day during the 1960s, when the two provided one another mutual support and encouragement in their efforts to promote peace and social justice, and when Merton was publishing many of his articles on war and peace in The Catholic Worker.  The Merton Center is currently in the process of planning a program and exhibit to introduce the new Dorothy Day collection, highlighted by a presentation on October 13, at Frazier Hall on the Bellarmine campus, entitled “Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day: A Special Friendship,” by Jim Forest, former managing editor of The Catholic Worker, close friend of both Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, and author of Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton and of Love Is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day.

Letters to a Green Liberal: Thomas Merton’s Call to Ecological Responsibility

     A conference on Thomas Merton and Ecology will be held at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY on Saturday, October 16, 2010.  Speakers for the day-long event will include:

·         Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, Director of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network and spiritual leader of Congregation P’nai Or in West Hartford, CT. She is the author of Claiming Earth as Common Ground: The Ecological Crisis through the Lens of Faith;

·         Kathleen Deignan, CND, Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, and Founding Director of the Iona Spirituality Institute, and editor and compiler of two acclaimed books of Thomas Merton’s writings: When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature (2003) and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours (2007);

·         Dennis Patrick O’Hara, Assistant Professor of Ethics and Director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, frequent lecturer on ecotheology, health care ethics, and the spiritual dimension of human health, and author of a number of articles on Thomas Merton and the environment;

·         Monica Weis SSJ, Professor of English at Nazareth College, Rochester NY, former Vice President and current Board member of the International Thomas Merton Society, and author of Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise (2005) as well as numerous articles on various aspects of Merton’s work, with particular focus on his theology of the natural world. 

     For further information on the conference and registration information is available on the web at: or contact the Thomas Merton Center: 502-272-8177;

Gethsemani Property to Merton Institute

The Abbey of Gethsemani has presented The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living with forty acres of its property, in a 100-year lease, on which to develop facilities to further its mission and vision of being a leader in the contemplative movement.  The parcel of land includes a building that has been christened “Grace’s House.”  The gift furthers the desire of Thomas Merton that the abbey might be a site where small groups of concerned individuals might meet for dialogue, study, reflection and seminars in an atmosphere of silence and peace.  Merton Institute Board Chair Frank Peabody III, said of the gift: “This presents the Institute with an amazing opportunity to extend the values of the monastic contemplative tradition into the secular world through our initiatives on Contemplative Living, Contemplative Leadership and the Contemplative Family.  We will engage leaders from around the world, youth, and families in retreats and programs that will affect individuals, organizations and our culture. It will be a national and international center for the Institute’s core initiatives and for collaboration among organizations that participate in various aspects of the movement toward a more contemplative way of life.”  Thomas Williams, a Merton Institute Board member, is chairing the task force that will explore possible uses for the property leading to developing a facilities plan.  Michael Rotondi, founder, past director, and distinguished faculty member of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC) is a member of the Merton Institute Task Force for the development of the Gethsemani property and has provided pro-bono assistance in planning, strategy and concept development for the project.  Further information on the project can be found at

Scholars Retreat at Gethsemani

     May 28-30, 2010 the biennial ITMS Presenters/Daggy Scholars Retreat was held at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  As is customary, the theme of the retreat was taken from the previous year’s general meeting: “Bearing Witness to the Light: Merton’s Challenge to a Fragmented World.”  Twenty-two people, including four Daggy Scholars, participated.  Highlights of the gathering included attendance at monastic services; group discussion on “What draws you to Merton? / What was the most significant experience you had during the ITMS conference in Rochester?”; a small reception Friday night to honor the fortieth wedding anniversary of Jenny Ratigan, longtime Daggy Scholars Committee chair, and her husband Jim; an evening of poetry reading, featuring the work of Thomas Merton and Br. Paul Quenon, in the monastery’s  Skakel Chapel; a walk to St. Anne’s, Merton’s early hermitage.  A panel on “Resources for Studying Merton,” held at Merton’s hermitage, featured Merton Center Director Paul Pearson, who explained the work of the Center and publication of The Merton Seasonal; Merton Annual editors Gray Matthews and David Belcastro, who discussed the Annual; and Merton Legacy Trustee Anne McCormick, who outlined the history and recent work of the Trust; it was followed by discussion on “How Merton studies and my own field of studies and life pursuits fit together.”  The Monks’ Panel, consisting of Father Matthew Kelty, Father James Conner, and Brothers Patrick Hart and Paul Quenon, related memories of Merton’s death and burial.  Edward Kaplan led a Jewish prayer service, postponed from Friday evening Shabbat to Saturday because of travel delays, and described his own faith journey, which sprang from studies of Abraham Joshua Heschel as well as Thomas Merton.  The group also attended Br. Paul Quenon’s monthly Merton Chapter meeting at the abbey. The retreat committee was chaired by Mary Somerville and included Lynn Szabo, Brother Paul Quenon, and former Daggy Scholar David Golemboski.

ITMS on Facebook

    The ITMS Outreach Committee has started a Facebook group for the Merton Society, accessed at:  It is administered by ITMS president Bob Grip, Merton Center Director Paul Pearson, and Outreach Committee chair Andrea Neuhoff.  In coordination with the Outreach Committee, a Daggy Scholars Facebook group has also been created, accessed at:; many former Daggy Scholars and ITMS members have joined the group.  Both sites contain photos and posts, and links to important Merton sites.

Call for Papers for CEA

    The International Thomas Merton Society will once again sponsor one or more panels at the College English Association annual convention, to be held in St. Petersburg, FL March 31–April 2, 2011.  The general theme of the conference is “Fortunes,” and possible panel topics include: various authors and Merton (e.g. Faulkner, Camus, Milosz, O’Connor etc.); Envisioning the Challenges/Problems of the Future (e.g. Merton’s prophetic stance on technology, war, racism, indigenous rights, etc.); The Seven Storey Mountain: Perennial Bestseller (e.g. versions, editions, international publications, relationships with editors, agents, etc.). An allied organization of the CEA, the ITMS will provide limited financial support to defray expenses for panel participants.  Proposals of 200-500 words for a 6-8 page paper (15-minute presentation time) are due by November 1, 2010, and are to be submitted electronically at  Participants must be members of the CEA ($40/year) by January 2011.  Those interested in speaking at the convention are encouraged to contact Monica Weis, SSJ at for further information on submitting a proposal and on CEA membership.

André Louf, OCSO (1929-2010)

 Fr. André Louf, Cistercian monk and well-known spiritual author, died July 12 at his monastery of Mont-des-Cats, France.  Born in Leuven, Belgium, in 1929, he entered the monastery in 1947 and in 1963 was elected abbot of Mont-des-Cats, a post he held for thirty-four years.  After retiring as abbot in 1997, he lived as a hermit near the abbey of the Benedictine sisters of Saint Lioba in Provence, where he continued his prolific writings on spiritual and monastic themes.  His books available in English include The Cistercian Way, The Way of Humility and Teach Us to Pray.  He was a correspondent of Thomas Merton, and the archives of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University include thirteen letters to Merton between 1956 and 1965, as well as a letter from Merton published in part in The School of Charity.  Along with Merton and Carthusian Procurator General Dom J.B. Porion, he was a coauthor of the statement “Contemplatives and the Crisis of Faith,” written for the 1967 Synod of Bishops at the request of Pope Paul VI (published in Merton’s The Monastic Journey)

John J. O’Brien, CP (1941-2010)

    Longtime ITMS member Passionist Father John J. O’Brien died on October 15, 2010 at the University of Connecticut Medical Center after a brief illness.  Eldest son of the late John O’Brien and Kathleen Castiner O’Brien, he graduated from Cathedral High School in Brooklyn, NY in 1959. After earning an Associate’s Degree at Cathedral College, Douglaston, NY, he entered the Passionist novitiate in 1961, professed vows the following year, and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Edgerton Clark in 1969, after earning a Master’s Degree from St. Michael’s Seminary in Union City, NJ.  In 1977, he received a second Master’s Degree, in liturgical studies, from St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, and in 2002 earned his doctorate at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA. Father O’Brien engaged in retreat ministry at Passionist retreat centers in North Palm Beach, FL and West Hartford, CT from 1970 to 1978, served as a member of the Passionist preaching band, and in 1980 became pastor of St. Gabriel’s Parish, Brighton, MA. He served as formation director for Passionist students at the pre-novitiate and theologate levels from 1983 to 1990. During the past two decades, Father O’Brien was stationed at Calvary Passionist Retreat Center, Shrewsbury, MA, St. Malachy’s Parish, Burlington, MA and Sacred Heart Parish, Lexington, MA; he also taught theology at Anna Maria College, Paxton, MA and at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, MA.  At the time of his death Father O’Brien was administrator at St. Rose of Lima Church, Northboro, MA.  He was a regular participant in local Merton meetings in Shrewsbury, and facilitated scripture study groups at a number of central Massachusetts parishes. He had been scheduled to deliver a presentation on Thomas Merton and fellow Passionist Thomas Berry at the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting in June 2011 in Chicago.  In addition to the Merton Society, he was an active member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Catholic Historical Society, Pax Christi, and Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, for which he served as a member of the Steering Committee.  He was the author of George G. Higgins and the Quest for Worker Justice (Sheed & Ward, 2005), as well as articles on liturgy for scholarly journals and entries in the New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, the New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, and the Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church, Jamaica, NY on October 20, 2010, followed by interment at the Passionist monastery cemetery.  He is survived by three sisters and a brother: Kathleen Henderson of Rockville Center, NY, Ellen O’Connor of Freeport, NY, Maureen Collins of Bluffton, SC and Kevin O’Brien of Savannah, GA.

ITMS Authors

From many years of his personal notebook reflections, Lawrence S. Cunningham has compiled a commentary on the Church, the life of faith, and significant classic and contemporary figures, in Things Seen and Unseen: A Catholic Theologian's Notebook (Ave Maria, $20).

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     Steve Georgiou’s The Way of the Dreamcatcher: Spirit Lessons with Robert Lax is being reissued in September by Templegate Publishers; for further information see  He is also author of a new book, The Isle of Monte Cristo: Finding the Inner Treasure, spiritual reflections and meditations also drawing on his friendship with Lax (Novalis; available in the US through Twenty-Third Publications:

Resident Director Sought for Bethany Spring

A resident director for Bethany Spring, the retreat center of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, located in New Haven, KY, one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani, is currently being sought.  This is a full time, live-in position. The director provides a hospitable, contemplative presence at the center while overseeing facility operations, supervising retreat center staff, assisting in marketing the center, and providing guests with the resources needed to ensure a comfortable stay.   Candidates for the position should have a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of three years of related experience, and an understanding of contemplative living, as well as excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to speak well in public settings.  For further information, contact Vanessa Hurst: email: ; phone: 502-899-1991.

Merton Happenings

       On March 3, Patrick Mahon presented an “Evening with Thomas Merton” monologue at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Titusville, FL, and repeated the performance in May at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Hatyesville, NC.

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     On August 15, Bethany Spring, The Merton Institute Retreat Center, located in New Haven, KY, one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani, celebrated 33 years of offering hospitality and spiritual programs for its guests.  A reception and open house was held with music provided by Cincinnati Orchestra cellist Carlos Zavala and Bethany Spring resident director Patricia Campbell; the recently restored porch of the main house was blessed by retired Abbot of Gethsemani Fr. Damien Thompson, OCSO.

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    A Bridges to Contemplative Living program, “Seeing that Paradise Begins Now,” was held at The Benedict Inn, Beech Grove, IN on the last four Wednesdays in September.

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     On Sept. 10-11, Kathleen Deignan, CND directed a retreat on “Masters of the Soul and of the Cosmos: Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Dialogue” at the Thomas Merton Center for Catholic Spiritual Development in Palo Alto, CA.

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     On Sept. 10-12, a weekend Merton retreat organized by Fr. Francisco Rafael de Pascual was held at the Cistercian Abbey of Viaceli, Cóbreces, Spain, including presentations and participation in the monastic offices and Masses.  

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     On Sept. 13, Michael Brennan and Fr. Vaughn Fayle shared reflections on Thomas Merton with the Centering Prayer Group of North Park Covenant Church in Chicago.

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     On Sept. 17-19, Jonathan Montaldo led a retreat at Prairiewoods Retreat Center in Hiawatha, IA.

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    On September 23, Kathleen Deignan, CND gave a presentation entitled “Merton’s Eco-Monasticism” at Mepkin Abbey, Moncks Corner, SC.

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     On Sept. 20 and 27 and Oct. 4, Erlinda Paguio taught a continuing education course entitled “Thomas Merton’s Life and Writings: The Theme of Seeds” at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

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     On September 24-26, Kathleen Deignan, CND presented a contemplative retreat on “Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Dialogue on Healing the Natural World” at the Springbank Retreat Center in Kingstree, SC.

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     On September 28, Judith Hardcastle gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: Inward Odyssey, Outward Bound” at All Saints Anglican Church, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

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    On October 2, Board Members of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, including Morgan Atkinson, Rev. Jud Hendrix, Harry Pickens, Br. Paul Quenon, Avideh Shashaani and Tom Williams, gave a presentation entitled “Living Contemplatively in the Modern World” at the IdeaFest in Louisville, KY. The session was moderated by Merton Institute Director Vanessa Hurst.

Upcoming Events

    Upcoming retreats and programs at Bethany Spring, The Merton Institute Retreat Center, located in New Haven, KY just one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani, include Bridges to Contemplative Living retreats: October 1-3, October 25-27, November 12-14, November 15-17; Satori: Awakening The Inner Self: October 22-24; Grief Walking: Contemplation and the Wilderness of Suffering: November 5-7;Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver: Poets of the Sacred: November 19-21; Thanksgiving at Bethany Spring: November 24-27; Advent Bridges to Contemplative Living retreats: November 29-December 1, December 6-8, December 10-12. For further information see:

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     On Sept. 30-Oct. 2, the thirteenth annual Catholic Peacemakers Retreat, sponsored by Pax Christi of western New York and held at St. Mary’s on the Lake, Hamburg, NY, has as its theme “Thomas Merton: Peacemaking in Changing Times.”  The program includes Mass and discussion on Thursday evening, Sept. 30, the one-act play Fourth and Walnut with actor/author James Nagle on Friday evening, Oct. 1, and a full-day on Saturday Oct. 2, with presentations by Merton scholars Patrick O’Connell and Richard Reilly, screening of Merton documentaries, and discussion of the book Praying with Thomas Merton by Wayne Simsic. The cost is $45 pre-registration; $50 at the door; discounts for students, seniors and religious available. For more information, contact Matt Smith:

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     On October 2, Board Members of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living will give a presentation entitled “Living Contemplatively in the Modern World” at the IdeaFest in Louisville, KY.

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     On October 4, at 7:00 p.m., Rich Fournier will give a presentation entitled “A Hidden Wholeness – Thomas Merton: His Relevance for Our Times” in the parlor of the Taproot Center (at the old Warner Homestead) 11 Porter Hill Rd. Cummington MA 01026. For more information please contact Rich Fournier at 413-634-5451 or email:

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    On October 8-10, Kathleen Deignan, CND and Jeanne Anselmo will present a program entitled “Living Buddha, Living Christ: Thich Nhat Hanh and Thomas Merton in Dialogue on Contemplative Mindfulness” at Jubilee Retreat Center, Abingdon, VA. For further information, see:

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     On October 11, at 8:00 p.m., Wm. Theodore de Bary, Professor and Provost Emeritus at Columbia University, will deliver the annual Thomas Merton lecture, sponsored by the Columbia Catholic Campus Ministry, at St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at 116 St., New York City.  The topic will be “Merton, Matteo Ricci and Confucianism.”

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 On October 13, at 7:00 p.m., Jim Forest will give a presentation entitled: "Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day: A Special Friendship" in Frazier Hall, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.  The event is free and open to the general public. Further information  is available on the web at: or contact the Thomas Merton Center: 502-272-8177;

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     The University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto is hosting the Thomas Merton photo exhibit, "A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton," from November 1 through December 17, in the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies’ Common Room, 59 Queen’s Park Crescent, Toronto. The exhibit will be open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. On Monday, November 1st at 7:30 p.m. the exhibition will officially open with a talk by Prof. Michael W. Higgins entitled “Memory and Reconstruction: The Scylla and Charybdis of the Spiritual Diarist (A Riff on Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen)”  in Madden Hall which is located in Carr Hall 100 St. Joseph Street, Toronto. For further information please contact Isabelle Tanner, 416-926-1300, ext. 3454 or

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On November 19-21, Michael Higgins will lead a retreat entitled “Merton, Nouwen and Nicholl: Pilgrims of Wisdom and Peace” at the Mount Carmel Retreat Centre, Niagara Falls, ON. The cost for the weekend is $325CAN; for further information and registration materials, see:

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     On November 26-28, the Janssen Centre, Melbourne, Australia will host a Thomas Merton Retreat Weekend.  For more information, email:; website:

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      On December 10, The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, Louisville, KY will host a program entitled “Thomas Merton: From Gregorian Chant to Jazz”; for further information: phone: 502-899-1991 or email:

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     On December 11 a Thomas Merton Advent Retreat will be held at The Benedictine Inn, Beech Grove, IN; for further information, phone: 317-788-7581 or email:

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Walk with Thomas Merton on his journey home (1915-1968). Sr. Sarah O’Malley, OSB, will facilitate the retreat on Saturday, March 12, 8:45 am to 12:00 pm held at Saint Theresa Parish, in the convent, 5045 E. Thomas Rd. Phoenix, 85018. To register contact Sr. Sarah, 602 944-3375, ext. 104 or Duncan Macaulay, 602 826-1982 and leave name and phone number. Cost: freewill donation. Space limited!

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     The next Roadscholar (formerly Elderhostel) “Week with Thomas Merton” at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY will take place April 10-15, 2011.  For further information contact Linda Bailey: 502-272-8161; e-mail:

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     A “Thomas Merton’s New York” Pilgrimage Program will be held April 26–May 2, 2011, led by Judith Hardcastle and Donald Grayston, with guest speakers Jonathan Montaldo and Michael Higgins, based at the House of the Redeemer, 7 East 95 St. in Manhattan.  The maximum number of participants is 16.  For further information, contact Judith Hardcastle at:  or 250-344-6117 (daytime).

Chapter and Affiliate News

      The inaugural gathering of the Arizona Chapter of the ITMS drew fourteen attendees.  It was agreed to meet four times per year, and the dates decided on were Sept. 11 and Dec. 11, 2010; March 12 and June 1, 2011.  The group decided to read and discuss Merton's Life and Holiness for its initial meetings. For further information contact Duncan Macaulay at

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    The Northern California ITMS Chapter completed its discussion of Merton’s The Inner Experience and began to discuss A Year with Thomas Merton at its September 26 meeting, which will be continued at the November 21 meeting. For further information contact John Berger at 482-6976 or

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     On July 8, the Thomas Merton Society of Canada sponsored its annual Wine & Cheese Reception at the Thomas Merton Reading Room in the Vancouver School of Theology’s H. R. MacMillan Library, on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, followed by a public presentation by TMSC President Ross Labrie entitled “Thomas Merton on Marx and Marxism” in the VST Chapel of the Epiphany.  On July 9-11, Dr. James Finley directed a Merton Retreat entitled “Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate” at the Vancouver School of Theology, cosponsored by the TMSC and VST.  On September 3, Bonnie Thurston  gave a presentation entitled “Waking from a Dream of Separateness: Thomas Merton’s Principles of Inter-Religious Dialogue” at the Canadian Memorial Church & Centre for Peace in Vancouver, BC; on the following day, she led a retreat entitled “Living as Listeners with Hearts Attending” at St. Francis-in-the-Wood Anglican Church in West Vancouver.  For further information, phone: 604-669-2546; email:; website:

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     The Chicago Chapter of the ITMS held its annual picnic on Sunday, August 22 at the Passionist Monastery.  On April 18, Marc Boswell, a doctoral candidate at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, gave a presentation entitled “Beating Down the Phantoms: Merton, Marxism and the Threads of Ideology.”  On September 19, Sr. Margaret Guider, OSF gave a presentation entitled “‘The Beginning of Love’: Thomas Merton’s Influence on the Evolution of Women’s Spiritual Consciousness.”  On October 17, Daniel P. Horan, OFM will speak to the group on “Thomas Merton the ‘Dunce’: Identity, Incarnation and the Not So Subtle Influence of John Duns Scotus.” On November 21, Albert Hasse, OFM will give a presentation entitled “Overcoming the Seduction of the False Self.” All meetings are held at the Immaculate Conception Rectory Assembly, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago. The chapter reading group, which meets from 7 to 8 p.m. on the last Monday of the month in the library of the Passionist Monastery, led by Fr. Francis Cusack, CP, discussed Christopher Pramuk’s recently published book Sophia – The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton at its spring meetings and is currently reading Merton’s Contemplation in a World of Action. For more information, contact Chapter Coordinator Mike Brennan: phone: 773-447-3989; email:; website:

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    On April 10, the Thomas Merton Society of Washington, DC hosted Donald Grayston, Immediate Past President of the International Thomas Merton Society, who spoke on “Merton as Pilgrim in Cuba and Asia” at St. Anselm Abbey School Auditorium. The Chapter will view the video A Taste of Gethsemani at its November 13 meeting. For further information contact Fr. John Farrelly, OSB at :

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     The Mississippi Chapter went on a retreat to the Abbey of Gethsemani June 21-25, 2010.  For further information contact John H. Staggs: email:

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     The Wall, NJ ITMS Chapter is discussing Thomas Merton’s book Contemplative Prayer at its meetings on September 15, October 20 and November 17, after completing its discussion of The Intimate Merton at its June 16 meeting; the group will read and discuss New Seeds of Contemplation and the The Inner Experience at its meetings from December through June.  For further information contact Greg Ryan: phone: 732-681-6238; email:

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     The Corpus Christi (New York City) chapter heard Fr. Dan Riley, OFM speak on “Thomas Merton & the Influence of Saint Bonaventure” at its Sept. 25 meeting, followed by a tenth anniversary memorial Mass for Robert Lax, concelebrated by Fr. Riley and Corpus Christi pastor Fr. Raymond Rafferty.  Michael McGregor, author of the forthcoming Lax biography, spoke at the reception following the Mass.  On November 6, Bonnie Thurston will lead a day of recollection entitled “With Hearts Attending: Thomas Merton on the Charism of Listening” in commemoration of Merton’s baptism at Corpus Christi.  On January 29, 2011, Daniel Horan, OFM will give a presentation entitled “A Monk, A Mendicant & the Vita Evangelica: The Gospel Life According to Merton & Francis.”  On March 5, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND will speak on “Thomas Merton’s Franciscan Soul.”  The chapter will also sponsor its annual “Evenings with Father Louis” during Lent.  For further information, contact chapter director Brenda Fitch Fairaday:; or visit the chapter website:

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     The Thomas Merton Society of the Capitol Region (Albany, NY) is hosting Merton biographer Jim Forest for a series of talks Oct. 4-6, including events on Oct.4 at New Skete Monastery, Cambridge, NY; presentations on “Thomas Merton and the Twenty-first Century” on Oct. 5 at Siena College in Loudonville, the College of St. Rose in Albany and at the Chapel and Cultural Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, preceded by a pot luck supper at Rosa House Catholic Worker community in Troy; on Oct. 6 there will be a pot luck supper, Mass and round table discussion at the Emmaus Catholic Worker House in Albany.  For further information contact Walt Chura, SFO:

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     On Sept. 29, the Cleveland ITMS Chapter heard William Mittendorf speak on “Seasoned Wisdom: Gethsemani Hermits,” about his visits to Abbey of Gethsemani hermit Fr. Roman Ginn, as well as about Thomas Merton and other monks who lived as hermits on the monastery grounds.  For further information contact Sr. Donna Kristoff, OSU:

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     The May meeting of the Lafayette, OR ITMS Chapter, at Bethany House of Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, included presentations by Br. Mark Filut, OCSO: “Merton as Teacher”;   Bill Apel and Andrew Webber: “Thomas Merton and Abraham Joshua Heschel: Radical Transformation, Journey Towards ‘Teshuvah’”; and “Merton’s Musings”: readings from Merton’s journals. The August meeting included presentations by Br. Mark Filut: “Merton and the ‘Burnt Men’”; Jim Somers: “The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Thomas Merton”; Mary Sommerset: reviews of the article “Transformative Solitudes: Merton & Rilke at the Pivot of Silence” by Susan McCaslin; and a discussion: “Merton and Technology: What Would He Have Said About Facebook?”  For further information contact Doug Speers: 503-246-0722;

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     At its August meeting, the International Thomas Merton Society – Sezione Italia met to discuss the establishment of a more active and permanent association with the name “Associazione Thomas Merton Italia,” and decided to become an international affiliate of the ITMS rather than and ITMS chapter, as it had previously been.  For further information, contact Sherri McFerrran (Russo):; website:

Send all Merton-related news to:

Pat O'Connell

Box 3219

Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

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