International Thomas Merton Society


        Vol. 18, No. 2                                    Fall, 2011

Twelfth General Meeting a Success

     “With Roots in Eternity: Merton, the Desert and the City” was the theme of the Twelfth General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society, held June 9-12 at Loyola University, Chicago, IL. More than 240 people attended the conference, from at least thirty-three states and nine other countries.
    Major presentations included the Springboard Address by Bishop Robert Morneau, entitled “Thomas Merton: Pilgrim of the Desert and City – Steward and Evangelist of God’s Word”; the Keynote Address by Esther de Waal, entitled “The Celtic Threads of Thomas Merton’s Life”; and General Session Addresses by Martin Marty entitled “‘Another World to Live In’: Thomas Merton and ‘Soul’” and by Douglas Burton-Christie entitled “‘And Yet We Are Still in Paradise’: The Renewal of All Things in a Fragmented World.”
    Robert Grip delivered the Presidential Address entitled “Thomas Merton and Fulton Sheen: Roots in the Past with Messages for Eternity,” and the closing liturgy was celebrated by former ITMS president Rev. James Conner, OCSO. A roundtable on Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day featured Tom Cornell, Robert Ellsberg and Rosalie Riegle.    
    Chicago jazz artist Willie Pickens performed at the Thursday evening banquet, and Saturday evening featured the performance of the complete cycle of Thomas Merton’s Eight Freedom Songs, including the world premiere of settings of four of the songs by Vaughn Fayle, OFM, along with the four songs composed by Alexander Peloquin.
    The conference also included eight opening sessions, twenty-seven concurrent sessions, workshops and performances featuring fifty-six presenters, as well as meditation and worship sessions.
    The site coordinator for the general meeting was Michael Brennan, assisted by members of the Chicago Chapter of the ITMS. The Program Committee was chaired by Donald Grayston, and included Michael Brennan, Christine Bochen, Vaughn Fayle, OFM, ITMS President Robert Grip, ITMS Treasurer Paul Pearson, Monica Weis, SSJ and Suzanne Zuercher, OSB.
    At the ITMS Town Meeting on Saturday afternoon of the conference, ITMS President Robert Grip announced that the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting will take place June 13-16, 2013 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. Robert Grip will chair the Program Committee and Michael Higgins will serve as Site Coordinator; other members of the committee include Christine Bochen, ITMS President Kathleen Deignan, CND, June-Ann Greeley, Christopher Kelly, Jeffrey Kiernan, Paul Pearson and Monica Weis, SSJ.

New Officers and Board

     The Officers and Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society for 2011-2013 were announced by outgoing president Robert Grip at the Town Meeting of the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting on June 11, 2011 at Loyola University, Chicago, IL. 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, Kathleen Deignan, CND (chair), Christine Bochen and Meghan Robinson.
    Officers are Kathleen Deignan, CND, president; David Belcastro, vice-president; Andrea Neuhoff, secretary; and Paul M. Pearson, treasurer. Newly elected members of the board are: Judith Hardcastle, Daniel Horan, OFM, Christopher Pramuk, Paul Quenon, OCSO and Meghan Robinson; Monica Weis, SSJ was re-elected to the board.
    Kathleen Deignan, CND is founder and director of the Spirituality Institute at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, and director of Schola Ministries; she has edited When the Trees Say Nothing and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours (2007).
    David Belcastro is professor and chair of religious studies at Capitol University, Bexley, OH, and co-editor of The Merton Annual. He has served as a member of the ITMS Board and has presented papers at every ITMS General Meeting.
    Andrea Neuhoff is a former Daggy Scholar and Shannon Fellow, and has served as youth representative to the ITMS Board. She recently completed a masters degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
    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).
    Judith Hardcastle is the founder and program director of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, and an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, currently pastoring a parish in Golden, British Columbia.
    Daniel Horan, OFM is a former Daggy Scholar and Shannon Fellow who is presently teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at Siena College, Loudonville, NY; he is currently editing the correspondence of Thomas Merton and Naomi Burton Stone.
    Christopher Pramuk, assistant professor of systematic theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, is the author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton (2009), for which he received the 2011 “Louie” award at the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting; his article “Apocalypticism in a Catholic Key: Lessons from Thomas Merton” was the Catholic Press Association 2010 best article.
    Paul Quenon, OCSO is a monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he was a novice under Thomas Merton. He is a photographer and author of four books of poetry, Terrors of Paradise (1996), Laughter, My Purgatory (2002), Monkswear (2008) and Afternoons with Emily (2011). He coordinates the local chapter of the ITMS that meets at the abbey.
    Meghan Robinson, a former Daggy Scholar and youth representative on the ITMS Board of Directors, is pursuing a master’s degree at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, and is a youth minister and liturgical musician in the Diocese of Rochester, where she has served as a coordinator for the Next Generation Interfaith program for high school students.
    Monica Weis, SSJ, former ITMS vice president and current Board member, directs the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY. She is the author of Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise (2005) and The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton (2011).
    ITMS President Kathleen Deignan, CND also announced that ITMS members from six countries will serve as International Advisors for 2011-2013. They are: Detlev Cuntz, Herzogenaurach, Germany; Dirk Doms, Bruges, Belgium; Fiona Gardner, Bath, England; Fernando Beltrán Llavador, Salamanca, Spain; Malgorzata Poks, Koszecin, Poland; and Raymond J. Schmack, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    Michael Brennan will serve as ITMS Chapters Coordinator.

Louies Awarded

     The 2011 Thomas Merton Awards, informally known as “Louies,” were presented by outgoing ITMS president Robert Grip on June 9, 2011 at the opening banquet of the ITMS Eleventh General Meeting at Loyola University, Chicago, IL. The award is a bronze bust of Thomas Merton created by sculptor David Kocka. 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 Christopher Pramuk; 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 Monica Weis, SSJ.
    Christopher Pramuk, assistant professor of systematic theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, is the author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton (2009). He was the recipient of the Catholic Theological Society’s 2009 Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award.
    Monica Weis, SSJ, former ITMS vice president and current Board member, directs the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY. She was the program chair for the ITMS Fourth General Meeting (1995), has chaired the ITMS Publications Committee, and is the author of Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise (2005) and The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton (2011).

Shannon Fellowships Awarded

    At its June meeting, the ITMS Board of Directors awarded 2011-2012 Shannon Fellowships to three scholars: Gary Hall, Young-suk Moon and Erick Moser. 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.
    Gary Hall will study manuscript versions of Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander as part of his research for his doctoral dissertation entitled “Bystanders and Actors in the Work of Thomas Merton.”
    Young-suk Moon will examine the prophetic witness of Thomas Merton as an antidote to fundamentalist religious forms that advocate and justify terror and violence.
    Erick Moser will explore the relationship between Jean Daniélou, SJ. and Thomas Merton. He will study materials both at the Bellarmine Merton Center and in the Jesuit archives in Paris, France.
    The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2012-2013 is March 15, 2012. Awards must be used between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. 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; applicants are strongly encouraged to demonstrate in their application that they have consulted online finding aids for the Merton Center ( or for other archival collections of Merton’s work.
    • 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, 2012 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

     Nineteen young people were able to attend the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting at Loyola University 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 Jamie Fazio, co-chairs, Cristobal Serran-Pagan y Fuentes, Chrsitine M. Bochen, Kathleen Deignan, CND, David Golemboski and Nass Cannon.
    This year’s recipients included:
    • Marc J. Boswell, a Ph.D. student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Chicago and a member of the Chicago ITMS Chapter;
    • Jonathan Ciraulo, a graduate of George Fox University and a current student in the Master’s of Theological Studies program at the University of Notre Dame;
    • Nicholas Croce, a junior at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, majoring in peace and justice studies;
    • Robert Droel, a religious studies major at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY;
    • Yohana Gelaye, a junior at Ohio State University majoring in social work;
    • Mallorie Gerwitz, a 2010 graduate of the master’s program in speech pathology at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY;
    • Brandan Hayes, a student at Ohio State University;
    • Caitlin King, a junior at Ohio State University;
    • Yoftahie Mesfin, a sophomore majoring in political science and law at Ohio State University;
    • Patrick Morgan, a recent graduate in English literature and geological sciences from the State University of New York at Geneseo;
    • Kelly O’Brien, a sophomore at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY;
    • Jeff Shewell, a senior at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY;
    • Joe Shin, an International Youth Fellow at Ohio State University;
    • Austin Smith, a graduate student in creative writing at the University of Virginia;
    • Natalie Terry, a recent graduate of John Carroll University with a major in religious studies, currently a full-time volunteer at the Education and Spirituality Center of the Humility of Mary Sisters in northeastern Pennsylvania;
    • Bethany Durham Vaughan, a graduate student at the University of Memphis and staff member at Freed-Hardeman University;
    • Matthew Emile Vaughan, a recent master’s of divinity graduate from Abilene Christian University and incoming doctoral student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in religion and education;
    • Kathleen White, a master’s student in art education at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY;
    • Maura Whitman, a recent graduate in English education from Nazareth College, Rochester, NY.

Ron Seitz (1935-2011)

    Ron Seitz, poet and friend of Thomas Merton, died at his home in Louisville, KY on June 19, 2011 as the result of an accident. After receiving a Master of Arts in creative writing from the University of Louisville, he was a professor at Bellarmine University from 1962 through 1989, was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Louisville, and also taught courses in literature, humanities, creative writing and religious studies at other Louisville-area colleges. He was the author of numerous volumes of poetry, including The Gethsemani Poems (1985), Death Eat (1987) and Monks Pond, Old Hermit Hai: A Haiku Homage to Thomas Merton (1988), and of Song for Nobody: A Memory Vision of Thomas Merton (1993), a biographical memoir of his friendship with Merton.
    His poetry appeared in Monks Pond, Thomas Merton’s “little magazine,” as well as in America, Commonweal, Green River Review, West Coast Review and numerous other publications. His short story “Once upon a Church” received a Catholic Press Award for outstanding short fiction.
    He is survived by his wife Sally, sons, Dylan, Sean and Casey, grandson Zack and brother Eddie. A Mass was celebrated on June 21 at the Abbey of Gethsemani to commemorate his life.

John Farrelly, OSB (1927-2011)

     Fr. John Farrelly, monk of St. Anselm’s Abbey in Washington, DC and co-founder of the Washington Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, died June 2, 2011 after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was born October 21, 1927 to John J. Farrelly and Cordelia M. Gross of Normandy, MO, one of twelve siblings. After schooling at Jesuit Prep School in St. Louis and St. Louis University, he joined the monastery on September 13, 1947, professed monastic vows on September 19, 1948, and was ordained a priest on February 5, 1955. He received a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of America, and taught religion at St. Anselm’s Abbey School and courses in theology at various local schools and theologates, including De Sales School of Theology, as well as at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA.
    He was the author of a number of books and articles on theological subjects, including God’s Work in a Changing World (1985) and God’s Word Calls and Nourishes (1997). He served for twenty-seven years as chaplain to a Team of Our Lady in Potomac, MD and also was the abbey’s vocation director for many years.
    He is survived by his brothers Frank, Peter and David and his sister Julia. He was buried in the abbey cemetery after a Requiem Mass on June 8, 2011.

Joan McDonald (1933-2011)

     Joan Carter McDonald, 77, of Biloxi, Mississippi died May 4, 2011 in Summerland Key, Florida. She was born in New Orleans to Dr. James Johnston Carter and Frances Marie Hartel. She attended the Catholic University of America and St. Louis University, and received a Master of Arts degree in English from Tulane University. After serving as an instructor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, she held research, writing and management positions with the US Government in Washington, DC and in Germany, including an appointment to the US Senior Executive Service. She compiled “A History of Performance Rating Systems in the Federal Government,” which was published by the Government Printing Office.
    A longtime member of the International Thomas Merton Society, Mrs. McDonald was the author of Tom Merton: A Personal Biography (Marquette University Press, 2006) as well as an article in The Merton Seasonal.
    She is survived by her daughters, Sarah Ann Sorrel of Paris, France and Mary McDonald Price of Norman, OK, her sons Carter and Allan McDonald of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and two granddaughters, Marion and Olivia Sorrel of Paris.

Madeline Cox, SSJ (1934-2010)

    Sister of St. Joseph Madeline Cox, a longtime member of the Rochester, NY Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, died suddenly on Nov. 20, 2010 at the age of 76. She entered the congregation from her home parish of St. Charles Borromeo in Greece, NY in 1952 and earned a bachelor of science degree in education in 1961 and a bachelor of arts degree in 1969 from Nazareth College in Rochester. She taught in Rochester diocesan schools for more than thirty years, and later worked as parish visitor and in the congregational archives.
    She is credited by Rev. William Shannon, founding president of the ITMS, with providing the initial impetus for his studies of Thomas Merton. On the occasion of her fiftieth anniversary of religious profession, on May 1, 2003, Fr. Shannon wrote to Sr. Madeline: “One of the memories I hope you will remember on this happy day was the time that you and [Sr.] Ann Concepta persuaded me to teach a course on Thomas Merton. As you know teaching that course changed the whole direction of my life. I doubt if I would have become so involved in the kind of writing I have done over the past more than twenty years were it not for the influence of that moment in which you challenged me to get to know Thomas Merton better. So it is that I want to thank you for the ‘push’ you gave me.”
    Her funeral liturgy was celebrated in the motherhouse chapel of the Rochester Sisters of St. Joseph on November 29, 2010, with burial in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph Ministry Fund, 150 French Road, Rochester, NY 14618.

Merton Center Director Honored

    On August 17, 2011, Dr. Paul M. Pearson, director and archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, was awarded Bellarmine’s Hidden Wholeness Award at a faculty and staff reception opening the academic year. The award, named after a phrase taken from Merton’s poem Hagia Sophia, recognizes those who demonstrate Bellarmine University’s tradition of embracing diversity, multiculturalism and internationalism. Each year, eight stoneware jugs known as the Bellarmines (or “Bellies”) are awarded in various areas of distinguished achievement to those who exemplify the core values of the university. The jugs’ design and name reflect a sixteenth-century tradition tied to St. Robert Bellarmine, the university’s patron. Dr. Pearson’s nomination included testimonies of endorsement from many of his colleagues in Merton studies.

Bridges Facilitator Training

    The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living is offering facilitator training for the Bridges to Contemplative Living Program at Bethany Spring, located one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani in New Haven, KY. Dates for the training are October 19-21, November 28-30 and December 9-11, 2011. The presenter, David Hilton, is an experienced Bridges facilitator who has guided participants through facilitator retreats. Participants will practice facilitating a Bridges group and learn facilitator strategies. Each retreat is limited to seven participants. The cost to attend the retreat is $150.00, which includes the program, a complete set of Bridges to Contemplative Living booklets, overnight accommodations and meals. The training is being partially unwritten through a grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation. To receive an application for this program, contact Merton Institute Executive Director Vanessa Hurst:

ITMS Authors

    Mary Frances Coady has recently authored Georges and Pauline Vanier: Portrait of a Couple (McGill-Queens University Press, 2011), a dual biography of the distinguished Canadian diplomat and Governor General and his wife, university chancellor and member of the Queen’s Council for Canada, and parents of Jean Vanier, founder of the l’Arche movement.

* * * * * * *

    Jim Forest’s newest book is Saint George and the Dragon, a children’s book illustrated by Vladislav Andreyev (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2011), which relates the classic legend of the saint and the dragon, with an afterword that looks at the real meaning of the legend; further information is available at

* * * * * * *

Jim Forest has also recently coedited, with Fr. Hildo Bos, For the Peace from Above: An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism, which includes extensive material from scriptural and patristic sources, as well as from such modern Orthodox authors as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Nicholas Berdyaev, Sergei Bulgakov, Olivier Clément, Lev Gillet, Stanley Harakas, Thomas Hopko, Vladimir Lossky, John McGuckin, John Meyendorff, Alexander Schmemann and St. Maria Skobtsova, along with
numerous case studies. The book is available for $24.95 from the Orthodox Research Institute; for further information, see the Institute website: http://

* * * * * * *

The third edition of Open to the Spirit: Tradition and Continuity at Holy Spirit Monastery by Dewey Weiss Kramer (Conyers, GA: Holy Spirit Monastery, 2011) is now available; the price is $29.95. For further information see the monastery web site:

* * * * * * *

    Dan Kenneth Phillips’ new book Spiritual Journaling: God’s Whispers in Daily Living (O Books, 2011) draws on his more than two decades of experience as a minister, hospital chaplain, editor and retreat leader on subjects related to spirituality.

* * * * * * *

    A new volume of poetry entitled Afternoons with Emily by Paul Quenon, OCSO (Black Moss Press, 2011), inspired by the work of Emily Dickinson, includes pieces that are often contemplative and speak to the joys of the outdoors as well as monastic life; further information is available at:

* * * * * * *

    Bonnie Thurston’s new collection of poems, Belonging to Borders: A Sojourn in the Celtic Tradition (Liturgical Press, 2011), is a series of prayerful meditations on Celtic saints and places that invite the reader to honor the borders in their own lives and to recognize the holiness of living on the borders.

New Chair for Merton Institute

    Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. has been appointed Chair of the Board of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living. Graham is Executive Chairman of the Board of Lightbridge Corporation of McLean, VA, a company which holds patents on a new type of nuclear power fuel based on thorium. A graduate of Princeton University (1955) and Harvard Law School (1961), he is internationally known as a leading authority in the field of international arms control and non-proliferation agreements designed to limit and to combat the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. From 1970 to 1977 Ambassador Graham held senior policy positions in the US government related to arms control and non-proliferation negotiations. He is the author of five books and has published in both scholarly journals and major newspapers on issues of arms control and reduction. He has taught at many prestigious universities, including the University of Virginia School of Law, the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and the Georgetown Law Center, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

Broadsides for Sale

     Two poetry broadsides related to Thomas Merton are currently available for purchase. The first is an unsigned broadside of a poem entitled “The Originators” by Thomas Merton (1967), from the Unicorn Press Folio album Series 1, No. 3, printed by Noel Young and designed by Alan Brilliant, limited to 325 copies (single sheet measuring 9.5 x 12 inches). The second is a signed, limited-edition broadside of a poem by Ron Seitz entitled “Thomas Merton” (1995) number 74 of 100, part of the Heaven Broadside Series issued by The Literary Renaissance of Louisville. The four-stanza poem is accompanied by a photograph of the author on the porch of Thomas Merton’s hermitage (single sheet measuring 10.125 x 22 inches). Both broadsides are matted and framed. The broadsides are being sold to raise money for a high school to which they had been donated. Prices are $50 for the Merton poem and $200 or best offer for the Seitz poem. For further information contact Lauren Crane at

Painting Donated

    The painting of Thomas Merton featured on the cover of the Summer 2011 issue of The Merton Seasonal has been donated by the artist to the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. Lawrence I. Janssen, an architect who studied with the Dominicans for seven years and was ordained a subdeacon, made the gift of his painting to the Center with the hope that it will increase interest in Thomas Merton, his mystical writings and his appreciation of nature.

Call for Papers for CEA

    The International Thomas Merton Society will once again sponsor panels at the College English Association annual convention, to be held in Richmond, VA March 29–31, 2012. The general theme of the conference is “Borders,” and two Merton panels are planned, tentatively entitled “Living on the Edge” and “Crossing Boundaries,” with a focus on Merton’s characterization of the monk as a marginal person, Merton and literary boundaries, living and writing on the margins, and other proposals relating to the theme. 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, 2011. Participants must be members of the CEA ($40/year) by January 2012. Those interested in speaking at the convention are encouraged to contact Monica Weis SSJ, coordinator of the CEA Merton sessions, at for further information on submitting a proposal and on CEA membership; additional information is available in the full Call for Papers at the CEA web site:

Merton in the Media

    An hour-long dialogue about Thomas Merton between Ron Dart and Canadian Orthodox Archbishop Lazar is now posted on You Tube and can be accessed through the Canadian Orthodox Broadcasting website:

* * * * * * *

A video interview by Judith Valente with Brother Paul Quenon of the Abbey of Gethsemani, featured on the weekly program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, can be viewed at:

* * * * * * *

A half-hour interview with Monica Weis, SSJ by Chuck Mraz of Morehead State University’s Kentucky National Public Radio station, about her new book The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton, can be accessed at:

Irish Merton Fellowship Formed

    On December 10, The Merton Fellowship for Peace and Contemplative Living in Ireland, a new inter-denominational and inter-faith network of individuals interested in living a life of peace and contemplation, based on the example and writings of Thomas Merton, will be officially launched at the Corrymeela Community’s Ballycastle Centre in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. In announcing the meeting, the group’s founder, Presbyterian Minister Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie, commented: “Thomas Merton had an amazing ability to speak to people across the denominations and also across faiths. A major focus of his life and work related to contemplative prayer and peace; therefore it is fitting that we are establishing a group in Ireland with a view to promoting and nurturing these twin ideals. We are delighted to be partnering with the Corrymeela Community to launch this group and we hope to hold regular retreats in Ballycastle, as well as smaller, local meetings, in the months and years ahead.” For further information, see the Fellowship website:

Catholic Press Association Recognitions

    Two ITMS members were recognized for their writing by awards at the 2011 Catholic Press Association Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh on June 24.
    Suffer the Children Unto Me: An Open Inquiry into the Clerical Sex Abuse Scandal (Novalis), which Michael W. Higgins co-wrote with Peter Kavanagh, received the first-place award in the gender issues category. The citation read: “The importance of this volume lies in its stance of genuine inquiry into the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church. The authors, two highly respected journalists, provide a critical perspective though the story of Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Canada. The gift of this book is its clear, story-telling language and its richly nuanced entry into deeply troubling but necessary questions that involve media coverage, social mores, systemic and cultural factors, legal procedures, theological understandings, and institutional demands. The Church is in need of deep, communal, open, and accountable examination. This book helps.”
    Steve Georgiou’s recent book The Isle of Monte Cristo: Finding the Inner Treasure, spiritual reflections and meditations drawing on his friendship with Robert Lax (Novalis; available in the US through Twenty-Third Publications:, received the second place award for spirituality: soft cover. According to the award citation, “This book entices the reader into embarking on one’s own personal inner journey to find the treasure so beautifully portrayed by Georgiou. Written in an engaging style and enhanced by lovely illustrations.”

Merton Happenings

        On April 28, Michael Higgins gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Spiritual Companions” at The House of the Redeemer, in New York City.

* * * * * * *

    On June 25, Debra Classen gave a presentation entitled “Summer Beauty with Thomas Merton” at the Kairos Retreat Center in Medina, OH.

* * * * * * *

    On July 18-22, Kathleen Deignan, CND taught a course entitled “Masters of the Soul and of the Cosmos: Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Dialogue on Healing the Self / the Earth” at the Vancouver School of Theology, co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada.

* * * * * * *

    On September 18, Jonathan Montaldo presented a workshop introducing the Legacy of Thomas Merton at Saint Francis of the Sea Episcopal Church in Bangor, Maine.

Upcoming Events

    On September 24, Sr. Sarah O'Malley, OSB will lead a retreat entitled “Walk with Thomas Merton on His Journey Home” at St. Patrick Catholic Community – Fenlon Hospitality Center, Scottsdale, AZ. For further information contact St. Patrick: 480-998-3843; email:

* * * * * * *

     On September 24, Debra Classen will give a presentation entitled “Autumn Beauty with Thomas Merton” at the Kairos Retreat Center in Medina, OH. For further information, phone: 216-832-4445; e-mail:  

* * * * * * *

     Upcoming programs at Bethany Spring, the retreat center of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living in New Haven, KY, one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani, include: October 10-12, Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver: Poets of the Sacred, presented by Sharon Grant; October 14-16, Satori: Inner Awakening, presented by Deborah Wade; November 4-6, Dreams and Contemplative Living, presented by Rusty Moe; November 18-20,
Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver: Poets of the Sacred, presented by Jay Bowling; November 23-26, Thanksgiving Retreat; December 2-4, December 5-7, December 9-11, Advent Bridges to Contemplative Living retreats; December 30-January 1, A Contemplative New Year. For further information, see the Bethany Spring web site:, or contact Sr. Kelly O’Mahony, Resident Director, Bethany Spring:

* * * * * * *

     On October 1, a program entitled “Becoming Mindful: West Meets East Merton meets Thich Nhat Hanh” will be held at St. Anthony’s Priory, Claypath, Durham City, UK DH1 1QT; the cost is £16. For further information, phone: 0191 3843747.

* * * * * * *

A three-week continuing education course entitled “Merton: Mystic and Prophet” will be given at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY on the first three Monday evenings in October. The focus will be on Merton’s final years and The Asian Journal will be the text; the instructor is Richard Sisto, Louisville musician
and friend and correspondent of Thomas Merton. The cost is $79 ($89 after Sept. 26); to register, call 502-272-8166.

* * * * * * *

     On October 12, 19, 26 and November 9, a Bridges to Contemplative Living series will be facilitated by Sr. Julie Sewell, OSB, at the Benedictine Inn, Beech Grove, IN; for further information, phone: 317-788-7581; email:

* * * * * * *

     On October 29, Fiona Gardner will lead a retreat entitled “Thomas  Merton and Contemplation” at Clifton Cathedral, Clifton Park, Bristol BS8 3BX, UK, sponsored by the Bristol region of The World Community for Christian Meditation; suggested donation is £8. For further information contact Roger Layet: phone: 01275 463727; email:

* * * * * * *

On November 4, a poetry reading by Lisa Gill from her book Red as a Lotus: Letters to a Dead Trappist, and screening of the film Compassion Rising, about Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama, will take place at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, NM. The presentation is part of a series of programs organized in association with the exhibitions “Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible” (Oct. 23 through April 7, 2012) and “Contemplative Landscape” (Oct. 23 through Dec. 31, 2012), a photographic exploration featuring the work of Tony O’Brien, whose 1994-95 sojourn at a New Mexico monastery forms the heart of his new book, Light in the Desert: Photographs from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert (Museum of New Mexico Press), debuting with the exhibition. For further information contact Kate Nelson: 505-

* * * * * * *

     On November 5, 2011, Jonathan Montaldo and Peter Savastano will present a workshop entitled “Thomas Merton and the Inner Journey: Beyond Interreligiosity” at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco; for further information see the Institute website:

* * * * * * *

     On November 10-13, 2011 Jonathan Montaldo will give a presentation entitled “Mary Oliver & Thomas Merton: Contemplative Poets Who Learned to Love the World” at the Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, CA; for further information see:

 * * * * * * *

    On November 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Esther de Waal will lead a retreat entitled “Baptized Into Paradox : The Holding Together of Opposites – The Inner & Outer Worlds of Thomas Merton,” at Corpus Christi Church in New York City, in observance of Thomas Merton’s baptism at Corpus Christi; for further information see: or e-mail:

* * * * * * *

     On November 25-27, a weekend entitled “Enlightenment of the Spirit: In the Footsteps of Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, Writer, Poet, Political Activist” will be held at Shepherd’s Dene, the Diocesan Retreat Centre for Durham and Newcastle, UK; the price for the weekend is £130. For further information, contact Shepherd’s Dene Retreat House, Riding Mill, Northumberland NE44 6AF; phone: 01434 682212.

* * * * * * *

     On November 26, a program entitled “New Eyes Awaken – Reflections on Merton for Advent,” led by Rev. Jane Eastell, will be held at The Milner Hall, St. Peter Street, Winchester. UK SO23 8BW, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland.  The cost is £15 (£17 for non-members), which  includes lunch and refreshments. To register send a check (payable to The Thomas Merton Society) to: Stephen Dunhill, 3 Seaview Cottages, Spittal , Berwick upon Tweed, UK TD15 2QS.

* * * * * * *

     On December 3, a Thomas Merton Advent Retreat will be directed by Sr. Julie Sewell, OSB at the Benedictine Inn, Beech Grove, IN; for further information, phone: 317-788-7581; email:

* * * * * * *

     On February 29, 2012, Rosanne Haggerty will deliver the Sixth Annual Thomas Merton Black History Month Lecture at 7 p.m. in Frazier Hall, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. A graduate of Amherst College, she was inspired by work on her senior thesis on Thomas Merton to devote her life to public service. After working at Covenant House in New York City and for seven years developing housing for the poor and homeless with Brooklyn Catholic Charities, in 1991 she established Common Ground Community, a nonprofit organization that has become the preeminent supportive housing provider in the country and an innovative developer of strategic solutions for the problem of homelessness. In 2001, she received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius award,” in recognition of her work.

* * * * * * *

     The Spring 2012 Merton Road Scholar [elderhostel] week will take place March 11-16, 2012 at the Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. For further information contact Linda Bailey: 502-272-8161; e-mail:

* * * * * * *

     The Ninth General Meeting and Conference of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain & Ireland will take place April 13-15, 2012 at Oakham School, Rutland, UK, Thomas Merton’s alma mater. The conference theme is “Raids on the Unspeakable” and the plenary speakers will be Liz Carmichael, Jim Forest and Jonathan Montaldo.  Fees are £220 for TMS and ITMS members, £240 for non-members. Reservations can be made by email: or by mail: Booking Secretary, Kymin Cottage, Westhide, Hereford, HR1 3RG, UK. For further details, see the TMS website:

* * * * * * *

     Edward Kaplan will serve as a visiting professor at the Cardinal Bea Institute for Judaic Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, in April-May, 2012, where he will give a course on Abraham Heschel and Thomas Merton.

Chapter and Affiliate News

      The Northern California ITMS Chapter discussed Thomas Merton’s autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain at its July 31 meeting.  For further information contact John Berger: phone: 916-482-6976; email: bergerjh@rcip.clm.

* * * * * * *

     On September 18, members of the Chicago ITMS chapter shared their impressions of the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting, held in June at Loyola University, Chicago. Upcoming meetings will be held October 16 and November 20, in the Immaculate Conception Parish Rectory assembly room. For further information contact Chapter Coordinator Mike Brennan: phone: 773-447-3989; email:; website:

* * * * * * *

On October 25th at 7.30 pm the Cleveland ITMS Chapter will sponsor a presentation by Paul M. Pearson entitled “Seeking Paradise: Thomas Merton and the Shakers” at Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, OH. For further information contact Sr. Donna Kristoff, OSU:

     The Wall, NJ Chapter of the ITMS discussed Merton’s The Wisdom of the Desert at its June 15 meeting. At its fall meetings, on September 21, October 19 and November 16, the group will discuss Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters. For further information contact Greg Ryan: phone: 732-681-6238; email:

* * * * * * *

     The Corpus Christi (NYC) Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society will sponsor a presentation by former Merton Center Director Jonathan Montaldo entitled “Heart Speaking to Heart: The Role & Art of the Interior Dialogue in Thomas Merton’s Journal Writing” on September 24, 2011 at Corpus Christi Church in New York City. On January 28, 2012, Ian MacNiven, biographer of James Laughlin, will give a presentation entitled “Amanuensis to a Monk: James Laughlin, Thomas Merton & The Asian Journal.” Further information on the chapter and its activities is available at; e-mail:

* * * * * * *

     On November 3, 2011, The Thomas Merton Center of Pittsburgh will present its annual Thomas Merton award for contributions to justice, peace and the integrity of creation to Dr. Vandana Shiva,  founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, India, dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues, and of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. One of the world’s most renowned environmentalists, Dr. Shiva has been identified by Time magazine as an environmental hero and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. For further information, see the Pittsburgh Merton Center website:

* * * * * * *

     On July 21, the Thomas Merton Society of Canada sponsored a presentation by Kathleen Deignan, CND entitled “Love for the Paradise Mystery: Thomas Merton, Contemplative Ecologist” as part of the annual anniversary celebration of the opening of the Thomas Merton room at the Vancouver School of Theology. The TMSC is
sponsoring a travelling exhibition of Thomas Merton’s photography, which was shown at St. Andrew’s United Church and Centre for Peace, Golden, British Columbia August 8-September 5, 2011, before travelling to the Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta, Augustana, AB (September 10-30); after
exhibitions in Calgary AB and Winnipeg, MB, the exhibition will be shown at the Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC July 9-20, 2012. In association with opening of the exhibition, Paul M. Pearson gave a presentation on August 8 entitled “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” at St. Andrew’s United Church
in Golden. For further information contact TMSC Community Relations Director Susan Cowan: phone: 604-669-2546; email:; website:

* * * * * * *

      On October 5-6, the Italian Merton Society (Associazione Thomas Merton Italia) will sponsor a seminar directed by Society President Maurizio Renzini on Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation (Nuovi Semi di Contemplazione) at the Camaldolese Hermitage of Fonte Avellana, The cost is 60 euros. For further information see the Society website:

Send all Merton-related news to:

Pat O'Connell

Box 3219

Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

The ITMS Newsletter is also available online at:

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