International Thomas Merton Society


        Vol. 19, No. 2                                    Fall, 2012

ITMS Silver Anniversary

     May 30, 2012 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the International Thomas Merton Society at Bellarmine College (now University), Louisville, KY, at a meeting of fourteen Merton scholars coordinated by Robert E. Daggy, Director of the Thomas Merton Studies Center (as it was then called) at Bellarmine, Patrick Hart, OCSO, Merton’s last secretary, and Rev. William H. Shannon, who was elected by the group as the first president of the society. Other founding members included: Christine M. Bochen, David Cooper, Lawrence Cunningham, E. Glenn Hinson, Dewey Weiss Kramer, Victor A. Kramer, Patrick F. O’Connell, Anthony Padovano, Ron Seitz, Bonnie Thurston and Mary Luke Tobin, SL. The gathering was an outgrowth of contacts made almost a decade earlier at various symposia held in 1978 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Merton’s death, and developed from Msgr. Shannon’s experience coordinating the Thomas Merton Society of Rochester, NY.

     At the meeting, goals and preliminary by-laws for the society were drawn up and officers chosen: Msgr. Shannon as president, Dr. Daggy as vice president, Dr. Bochen as corresponding secretary and Dr. Thurston as recording secretary/treasurer. It was decided that The Merton Seasonal, which was edited by Dr. Daggy and had been published by the Merton Center at Bellarmine since 1976, would become the official organ of the ITMS, and subscribers were informed of the founding of the Society and invited to become members in the Autumn 1987 issue. The goals of the Society were designated as: to encourage research, study and reading of the works of Thomas Merton; to promote the writing of both scholarly and popular books and articles about Merton; to assist members in exploring the unique spiritual journey of Thomas Merton through shared insights; to promote recognition of Thomas Merton as a spiritual theologian, a social critic, a catalyst for inter-religious dialogue and an important American literary figure; to encourage and assist in the formation of local and regional chapters of the ITMS; to promote communication among members through biennial general meetings, special meetings and various publications; to assist in the designing of graduate and undergraduate courses on Thomas Merton in various disciplines of study. 

     A brief summary of key events of ITMS history over the past quarter century includes the following:

           To recognize the twentieth anniversary of Merton’s death and to increase awareness of the ITMS, a “Celebrate Merton ’88” year, from January 31 through December 10, was proposed, to be marked by regional meetings; at least a dozen Merton symposia and conferences were held during this period throughout the United States, as well as three in Great Britain.

           In the initial ITMS brochure, members were encouraged to form local chapters, with Arline Newton as the first chapters coordinator; currently there are thirty-five chapters in the United States and seven abroad, as well as ITMS-affiliated organizations and societies in eleven foreign countries (including the Dutch/Belgian Mertonvrienden, founded in 1985, two years before the ITMS itself). 

           On May 25-28, 1989, the ITMS First General Meeting, entitled “The Pattern in the Seed: Thomas Merton’s Glimpse of the Cosmic Dance,” was held at Bellarmine. On May 25-28, 1989, the ITMS First General Meeting, entitled “The Pattern in the Seed: Thomas Merton’s Glimpse of the Cosmic Dance,” was held at Bellarmine. Eleven subsequent General Meetings have been held biennially since that time throughout the continental United States and in Canada: Rochester, NY (1991); Colorado Springs, CO (1993); Olean, NY (1995); Mobile, AL (1997); Waterloo, ON (1999); Louisville, KY (2001); Vancouver, BC (2003); San Diego, CA (2005); Memphis, TN (2007); Rochester, NY (2009); Chicago, IL (2011). The Thirteenth General Meeting is scheduled for June 2013 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. The Fourteenth General Meeting, commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Merton’s birth, will take place in June 2015 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY and at the Abbey of Gethsemani.

           In 1989, the first six advisory board members were elected, and six international advisors were appointed by incoming president Robert E. Daggy.

           At the ITMS Second General Meeting in 1991, held at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, the first “Louies,” Merton statuettes by sculptor David Kocka to honor outstanding contributions to international appreciation of Merton, to Merton scholarship, and to the ITMS itself, were presented, as they have been at each subsequent General Meeting.

           In the same year, the first amendment to the by-laws, specifying that all members of what was then still called the “advisory board” were to be elected to a two-year term (initially two of the six members were to be elected to a three-year term), was passed.

           December 10-12, 1993 saw the formation of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland, an affiliated society of the ITMS, at a conference held in Winchester, UK. The first TMS General Meeting was held in May 1996 in Southampton, UK; eight subsequent conferences have been held biennially in even-numbered years, usually at Oakham School, Merton’s alma mater.

           In Fall 1994, the first issue of the The ITMS Newsletter appeared, with Frank Tuoti as its founding editor; subsequently, the Newsletter has been inserted twice-yearly as a supplement to The Merton Seasonal and includes all Society news as well as news of the Thomas Merton Center, Merton Institute events, other recent or upcoming Merton-related events, obituaries of members of the Merton community, calls for papers for conferences, ITMS chapter news, notice of publications by ITMS members, etc.

           Also in 1994, a major revision to the bylaws was commissioned by ITMS President James Conner, OCSO to bring them into line with evolving practice; the revisions were approved by the Board in February 1995 and by the membership at large at the ITMS Fourth General Meeting at St. Bonaventure University in June 1995. Significant changes included the dropping of the term advisory board and the specification that the Board of Directors, consisting of the officers and six additional members, constitutes the policy-making body the ITMS; the office of recording secretary and corresponding secretary were combined; the reference in the bylaws to annual meetings of the Society was dropped; the position of resident secretary of the ITMS, undertaken since the founding of the Society by the Director of the Bellarmine Thomas Merton Center, was officially recognized; the responsibility for determining the amount of annual dues was assigned to the Board rather than the president; the number of international advisors was fixed at six; the rule that a president may not serve two consecutive terms was instituted; the duties of the president to conduct and manage the business and affairs of the society, exercising all such powers as are not prohibited by the bylaws, was made explicit; the three-person nominating committee was specified to include at least one member of the board and a least one member from the membership at large; a system was introduced for election of officers by members of board from a slate of two candidates for each office, followed by ratification by the membership at large (previously the nominating committee had prepared a single slate of officers proposed for ratification by the membership at large); provision for write-in votes for officers and board members was retained; ITMS chapters were now distinguished from national affiliates, and the position of coordinator for chapters and affiliates was explicitly included; provisions for planning and holding of general meetings was specified: sites were to be selected at least two years in advance and meetings were to be held biennially in odd-numbered years; arrangements for holding a business meeting of the membership at General Meetings was specified; the process of amending the bylaws was changed to require a majority vote (rather than a 2/3 vote) of members present at the “town hall” business meeting. In June 1997 a bylaws revision was approved at the ITMS Fifth General Meeting in Mobile, AL to give the immediate past president voting rights on the Board in order to avoid possible tie votes of a twelve-member board.  

           In 1995, at the ITMS Fourth General Meeting at St. Bonaventure University, the first eight youth/student scholarships, providing free registration and fees for attendance at ITMS General Meetings, were awarded; in June 1997, the ITMS Board voted to name the scholarships after Dr. Robert Daggy, who died in December of that year. Some 140 young people have benefited from the scholarships, many of whom have remained involved in the ITMS and some of whom have become leaders of a new generation of Merton scholars.

           At its June 1996 meeting, the Board approved a proposal to establish the Shannon Fellowship program, named for the founding president of the ITMS, to enable qualified researchers to visit the Thomas Merton Center archives at Bellarmine University or other repositories of Thomas Merton materials; the first five Shannon Fellows were chosen in June 1997; almost fifty fellowships have been awarded, many of which have resulted in substantial contributions to Merton scholarship.

           In 1996, the first ITMS regional retreats, held in even years and based on the theme of the previous year’s General Meeting, were held in six venues and attended by over 175 people; the retreats continued to be run biennially through 2004, when they were suspended due to a diminished number of sites and consequently fewer participants. In July 2002, separate retreats at the Abbey of Gethsemani were held for presenters at the 2001 ITMS Seventh General Meeting and for 2001 Daggy Scholars, based like the regional retreats on the theme from the previous year’s conference. In 2004, a combined retreat was held at Gethsemani for presenters and Daggy Scholars, and this format has continued to be used in even years for the two groups up to the present.    

           In 2000, an ITMS website was established ( in coordination with the Thomas Merton Center internet site. The site has been subsequently developed extensively and now provides information on the ITMS and its goals; membership benefits and a membership application, a copy of the ITMS bylaws; information on Shannon Fellowships and Daggy Scholarships; information on chapters and affiliates and on forming an ITMS chapter; names and contact information for ITMS officers and board members; a list of  “Louie” awardees; copies of ITMS presidential addresses; a complete list of contents of The Merton Seasonal and The Merton Annual; copies of all issues of The ITMS Newsletter since 2001; and information on upcoming ITMS General Meetings. In 2010, the ITMS also established a Facebook page (accessed at:; a Daggy Scholars Facebook group has also been created (accessed at:; both sites contain photos, posts and links to important Merton sites.

           In 2004, the ITMS officially took over the publication of The Merton Annual, which since its inception in 1988 had been an independent refereed scholarly journal of articles, reviews and interviews on Thomas Merton and on topics of interest to Merton. Beginning with Volume 11 (1998), the ITMS had provided a substantial subsidy for the Annual, financed by reduced-rate subscriptions available to ITMS members. The Annual, now published by Fons Vitae Press, is available to ITMS members at a reduced price as an optional part of their membership.

           In 2004-2005, the ITMS sponsored a campaign to restore a Merton profile to the new American Catholic Catechism. More than eleven hundred fifty people from across America and around the world signed on to a letter drafted and sponsored by the ITMS in response to a November 2004 interview with Bp. Donald Wuerl, chair of the catechism committee, reporting that Merton, who had originally been profiled in the opening chapter of the catechism, had been removed in the final draft, reportedly because “the generation we were speaking to had no idea who he was,” according to Bp. Wuerl. “Only secondarily did we take into consideration that we don’t know all the details of the searching at the end of his life.”  The letter responded “that Merton remains a figure of great fascination and attraction, and will continue to serve as an outstanding model of faith, wisdom and compassion for many years to come” and that “no reputable Merton scholars or . . .  careful readers of Merton think that his interest in Eastern religions toward the end of his life, which led to his Asian journey and his untimely death, in any way compromised his commitment to Catholic Christianity.” While the letter was not successful in restoring the Merton profile to the catechism, the campaign received national attention, including substantial coverage by Religion News Service and Catholic News Service, an editorial in Commonweal magazine criticizing the decision, and a front-page story in the National Catholic Reporter.

           In 2012, a committee was established by current ITMS President Kathleen Deignan, CND to plan for the centennial of the birth of Thomas Merton on January 31, 1915.

2013 General Meeting Program Set

     At its June meeting, the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society approved the program for the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting, to be held June 13-16, 2013 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT.  The theme of the meeting is “Living Together with Wisdom: Merton’s Call to Transform Our Hearts and Lives.”  Plenary speakers include Ilia Delio, OSF, Elizabeth A. Dreyer, Christopher Pramuk and Ronald Rolheiser, OMI.  The program will also feature an address by ITMS President Kathleen Deignan, CND, a roundtable session on Merton publisher James Laughlin, a panel on Merton and Henri Nouwen, twenty-four concurrent sessions, fourteen workshops and guided prayer sessions, meditation, liturgy and entertainment.

     Ilia Delio, OSF, currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, served as Chair and Professor in the Department of Spirituality Studies at the Washington Theological Union, where she also served as Director of Franciscan Studies. She is the author of The Emergent Christ, Christ in Evolution, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth, Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love and Franciscan Prayer.

     Elizabeth A Dreyer is professor of religious studies at Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, where she specializes in medieval mysticism, theology of grace, the Holy Spirit and contemporary lay spirituality. She is author of Making Sense of God: A Woman’s Perspective, Holy Power, Holy Presence: Medieval Metaphors of the Holy Spirit, Passionate Spirituality: Hildegard of Bingen and Hadewijch of Brabant, Earth Crammed With Heaven: A Spirituality of Everyday Life and A Retreat with Catherine of Siena: Living the Truth in Love.

     Christopher Pramuk teaches at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, and is the author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton (Liturgical Press, 2009), for which he received an ITMS “Louie” award in 2011 for bringing “provocative insight and fresh direction to Merton studies.” His article “Apocalypticism in a Catholic Key: Lessons from Thomas Merton” received the 2010 Catholic Press Association award for best theological article. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society.

     Ronald Rolheiser OMI is president of the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, TX and an author whose weekly column is carried by more than seventy newspapers worldwide. His books include Forgotten Among the Lilies: Learning to Love Beyond Our Fears, The Restless Heart: Finding Our Spiritual Home in Times of Loneliness, The Shattered Lantern: Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God and the best-selling The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. 

    Opening sessions on Thursday afternoon of the conference will include a First-Timers’ Session with Robert Grip; an ITMS Chapters Workshop with Donna Kristoff, OSU and Brenda Fitch Fairaday; a Merton Annual workshop with editor David Belcastro; a session with members of the Thomas Merton Center, a social justice ministry in Bridgeport, CT; and an emerging scholars session with Joshua David Bishop, Daniel Ruiz-Sierra, Jeff Shaw and Matthew Emile Vaughan. The James Laughlin Roundtable will feature David Cooper, editor of Thomas Merton & James Laughlin: Selected Letters; Peggy Fox, former editor-in-chief of New Directions Publications and member of the Merton Legacy Trust; and Laughlin biographer Ian MacNiven. The Merton/Nouwen panel will include John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO, Kevin Burns, Robert Jonas and Sue Mosteller, CSJ, with Nouwen biographer Michael W. Higgins presiding. Jazz pianist Deanna Witkowski, whose most recent recording, From This Place (2009), bridges contemporary as well as sacred elements through her use of scripture, the Mass, nineteenth-century poetry and original verses, will perform on Friday night of the conference. The closing liturgy on Sunday morning will be celebrated by retired abbot John Eudes Bamberger of the Abbey of the Genesee, colleague and friend of Thomas Merton and author of Thomas Merton: Prophet of Renewal.

     Concurrent sessions include:

           “Merton and Indigenous Wisdom”: Marc Boswell & William Mangrum;

           “Merton and Karl Barth”: Raymond Carr;

           “Merton and Literary Friends”: Michael McGregor & Mark C. Meade;

           “Merton and Peacemaking”: Daniel P. Horan, OFM & Gordon Oyer;

           “Merton and Poetry 1”: Fiona Gardner & Scott Grapin;

           “Merton and Poetry 2”: John P. Collins & Deborah Kehoe;

           “Merton and Poetry 3”: Patrick Morgan & Patrick F. O’Connell;

           “Merton and Spiritual Geography”: Kathleen M. Baker & Jeffrey Cooper, CSC;

           “Merton and Spiritual Masters”: Christopher Kelly & Joseph Parisi, OCDS;

           “Merton and the Inner Landscape”: Lars Adolfsson & Monica Weis, SSJ;

           “Merton and the Inner Light”: Paul R. Dekar & Robert W. Whalen;

           “Merton and Vatican II 1”: John Callahan  & Mack McGoldrick;

           “Merton and Vatican II 2”: Joseph Madonna;

           “Merton and Wisdom for Life”: William D. Apel & J. Patrick Mahon;

           “Merton and Young Adults”: Laura Geary Dunson & Glenn Loughrey;

           “Merton as Intellectual Critic”: Patrick Cousins & David Golemboski;

           “Merton: From Cloister to Classroom”: Alan Kolp & Jimmy Menkhaus, Natalie Terry;

           “Merton in Dialogue 1”: Edward K. Kaplan  & Christobal Serran-Pagan;

           “Merton in Dialogue 2”: Donald Grayston  & Elizabeth Holmes.

     Workshops, Guided Prayer & Special Presentations include:

           “Attending to the Dawn Deacon: Health as Union with God”: Nass Cannon, MD;

           “Attending to the Quiet Gifts of Monastic Artists”: Mary McDonald;

           “Building Wisdom’s House: The Seven Pillars”: Brenda Fitch Fairaday;

           “‘I Have Called You by Your Name’: Thomas Merton on the Black Experience”: Malcolm F. Cash;

           “Let Sophia Free Your Creative Side”: Margaret Betz;

           “Living Together with Wisdom: Merton’s Call to Transform Our Hearts and Lives”: Robert Wright;

           “Merton and the Poetic Experience of the Duino Elegies”: Detlev Cuntz;

           “Merton Light”: Mark Filut, OCSO;

           “Merton’s Wisdom Rooted in God’s Wisdom”: Mary Louise Heffernan, SSJ;

           “Playing at God’s Side: Seeking Wisdom through Merton”: Marianne Hieb, RSM;

           “Sharing the Wisdom: Studying and Teaching Merton”: Christine M. Bochen;

           “Using Merton’s Writings as a Framework for Prayer”: Timothy S. St. Onge;

           “‘Wisdom Cries the Dawn Deacon’: The Healing Power of the Night Spirit and the Dawn Air”: Paul M. Pearson;

           “Yoga’s Transformative Wisdom”: Diane Chambers.

     The program committee for the Thirteenth General Meeting is chaired by ITMS Past President Robert Grip, with Michael W. Higgins as site coordinator; other members of the committee include Christine M. Bochen, ITMS President Kathleen Deignan, CND, June-Ann Greeley, Christopher Kelly, Jeffrey T. Kiernan, Paul M. Pearson and Monica Weis, SSJ.

     Registration materials, with further information on the schedule, costs and accommodations for the conference will be included in the Winter 2012 issue of The Merton Seasonal.  Information is available at the Merton Center/ITMS web site:

Shannon Fellowship Awarded

      At its June meeting, the ITMS Board of Directors awarded a 2012 Shannon Fellowship to Malcolm Cash of Ohio State University to examine primary and secondary source materials at the Thomas Merton Center as part of an ongoing project on Merton and African American culture and history.

     The Shannon Fellowship program was established in 1996 in honor of the late Msgr. 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 Paul M. Pearson, acting chair, Fiona Gardner and Joseph Quinn Raab.    

     The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2013-2014 is March 15, 2013.  Awards must be used between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.  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, 2013 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 twenty scholarships will be awarded, covering all costs (except transportation) of attendance at the Thirteenth General Meeting of the ITMS, to be held at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, June 13-16, 2013.  The awards will also include one year’s free membership in the ITMS.  Young people between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine, and full-time undergraduate students up to the age of forty, are invited to apply.

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

     Completed applications, including the recommendation, must be submitted by March 15, 2013, 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. An application form and further information can be found at:

     Any ITMS member who knows an eligible young person / student that would benefit from attending the 2013 General Meeting should encourage him or her to apply for a scholarship.

Scholars Retreat at Gethsemani

     On August 31-Sept. 3, 2012, 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: “With Roots in Eternity: Merton, the Desert and the City.”  Twenty-three people, including two Daggy Scholars, participated.  Highlights of the gathering included attendance at monastic services; group discussion on “How Merton Fits into Your Professional and Spiritual Life”; a Jewish Shabbat service on Friday evening led by Edward Kaplan; a reception Friday evening to honor George Beckerman for his service to the Merton Recordings Project; readings from Merton’s writings by Brother Paul Quenon at Merton’s hermitage; a walk to St. Anne’s, Merton’s early hermitage, led by ITMS president Kathleen Deignan; a monks’ panel followed by dialogue with the monks; a poetry reading and musical evening in the abbey’s Skakel Chapel; time for personal reflection and spiritual reading. The retreat committee was co-chaired by David Golemboski and Meghan Robinson, and included Edward Kaplan and Paul Quenon, OCSO.

John Ford (1930-2012)

     John Joseph Ford, 82, long-time attorney for the Merton Legacy Trust, died May 21, 2012. Born in Louisville on May 15, 1930, he was a graduate of St. Xavier High School and studied at Providence College before becoming a member of the “pioneer class” of Bellarmine College. He served in the US Army Counter-Intelligence Corps and graduated from the University of Louisville School of Law. He was a founding member of the law firm Ford, Klapheke and Meyer, where he practiced law for 50 years. He was a member of St. Stephen Martyr Parish for over a half-century. Mr. Ford received numerous honors and awards in recognition of his professional work and volunteerism.   

     After the death in September 1967 of his Columbia classmate John Slate, with whom he had begun preliminary work on establishing the Merton Legacy Trust, Thomas Merton got in touch with John Ford at the suggestion of Dr. James Wygal, a friend of both men. Merton found him “very efficient and cooperative” in drawing up the formal contract and on November 14, 1967 signed the agreement setting up the Trust. The two men met periodically concerning related legal matters through the first half of 1968, for the last time on August 1, some six weeks before Merton left on his final journey to Asia. Mr. Ford was the Trust’s attorney from 1967 until his death, kept careful records of the many Merton book contracts through the years and processed the royalties that were sent directly to his office before going to the Abbey of Gethsemani   According to Trustees Peggy Fox, Anne McCormick and Mary Somerville, “John Ford was a true southern gentleman, dedicated to the world of Merton, and helpful without hesitation whenever the trustees needed his counsel or action.  No one can ever forget what it was to have a man like this ‘on your side.’ His strong faith and love of Thomas Merton helped him balance tough legal advice with spiritual awareness.” 

     He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Florence (Hines) Ford, brothers Joseph and Thomas Ford, and sisters Florence and Catherine Ford and Mary Wright. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mary Lloyd (Alford) Ford; his children Anthony and wife Cathy, Kevin  and wife Donna, Kate, Neil, Cary and wife Candy, Jimmy and wife Betsy, and Dan and wife Julia; his brother Louis (Boo) and sister, Sr. Thomas Ann Ford, OP; along with sixteen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. His funeral Mass was celebrated on May 24, 2012 at St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church in Louisville, followed by burial in Calvary Cemetery.

Merton Video Pilgrimage

    As part of its video pilgrimage series, America magazine has produced a seven-minute film in which Fr. James Martin, SJ leads viewers to two sites in New York City important in the early life of Thomas Merton: Corpus Christi Church, where Merton was baptized on November 16, 1938, and 35 Perry Street in Greenwich Village, where he lived in 1939-1940, before moving to Olean, NY in September 1940 to teach at St. Bonaventure College, and then to the Abbey of Gethsemani in December 1941. The video can be accessed at:

ITMS Authors

     Lawrence S. Cunningham’s The Chapels of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012) with photography by Matt Cashore, provides commentary on the sixty chapels located at the University of Notre Dame, accompanied by over two hundred full-color photographs. The large format cloth edition is available for $45.00.

Call for Papers for CEA

    At the College English Association Annual Convention, to be held in Savannah, GA April 4-6, 2013, the International Thomas Merton Society will once again sponsor one or more panels, as well as recommending individual proposals for other concurrent sessions. The conference brings together 500-600 scholar-teachers committed to literature, writing, college teaching and related fields. The general theme of the 2013 convention is “Nature,” and possible panel topics include: “Thomas Merton through an Ecological Lens”; “Thomas Merton and the Nature of Peacemaking”; “Thomas Merton: Writing as Vocation”; “Thomas Merton: The Nature and Challenge of Social Justice”; “Thomas Merton in Dialogue” with various authors (e.g. Faulkner, Camus, Milosz, O’Connor etc.). An allied organization of the CEA, the ITMS will provide limited financial support to help defray expenses for panel participants.  Proposals of 200-250 words for a 6-8 page paper (15-minute presentation time) are due by November 1, 2012, and are to be submitted electronically at http://www/cea-web/org.  Participants must be members of the CEA ($40/year) by January 2013.  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.

Daniel Horan Ordained

    On May 19, 2012, Daniel Horan, OFM was ordained a priest by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, DC, at St. Camillus Church, Silver Spring, MD. A member of Holy Name Province of the Order of Friars Minor and a 2005 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Fr. Horan was a 2009 Daggy Scholar, a 2010 Shannon Fellow, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society. He has written and spoken widely on Merton and on Franciscan spirituality. He had professed his solemn vows on August 27, 2011, was ordained deacon on September 3, and graduated as valedictorian from Washington Theological Union on May 4, 2012. Concelebrants at the Saturday morning liturgy included Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, the provincial secretary of formation, and Thomas Conway, OFM, guardian of Holy Name College and the province’s director of post-novitiate formation. In response to this event, Fr. Horan said: “When I think about this weekend and my ordination to the priesthood, the first thing that comes to mind is gratitude – gratitude for the tremendous love and support of my family, friends and fellow friars, as well as the stunning support of the people with and to whom I’ve ministered this year at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, VA. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, joy and love that so many shared with me on that great day. I’m also grateful to God for the gift of this vocation to the Franciscan life, which is my first call and from which I am able to serve the Church as a priest.” He celebrated his first Mass on the following day at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle, and is currently in the doctoral program in systematic theology at Boston College.

Catholic Press Association Recognitions

    Two ITMS members were recognized by the Catholic Press Association with awards at the 2012 Catholic Media Conference, held June 20-22 in Indianapolis, IN. Jim Forest’s All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day (Orbis Books), described by the judges as a “magnificent biography enriched by numerous quotations from her letters and writings,” received the First Place award in the biography category; the book also received a second place award in the Design and Production category. Christopher Pramuk received a First Place award in the “Best Essay – National General Interest Magazines” category for his article “A Hidden Sorrow,” published in America, presenting an “evocative combination of story-telling and heartfelt observation” from a father’s point of view on the subject of miscarriage and loss.

New Volume Includes Prize Poem

    Kathleen Hellen’s new collection of poetry, entitled Umberto’s Night, described as “a ghost walk through the post-industrial landscape,” won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Prize and will be published by WWPH in October, 2012.  The volume includes the poem “As Myself,” which first appeared in Summer 2005 issue of The Merton Seasonal as the winner of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred.

Lax Work Performed

    On April 18, 2012, a public performance of “Sea & Sky,” a minimalist poetic masterwork by Robert Lax, took place in the Chapel of St. Francis in Berkeley, CA.  Written on the Greek island of Patmos in 1965, the seven-part work won the National Council for the Arts Award in 1967. This was the first performance of “Sea & Sky” integrating both poetic text (read by Dr. Steve Georgiou) and piano interludes (selected and played by Jacqueline Chew).  A round of discussion followed the program, centering on the spiritual dimensions of minimalism as expressed in both the poetry of Lax and in modern music.  The event was part of the course on Lax taught by Dr. Georgiou and offered through the Center For Arts, Religion and Education at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Merton Happenings

     On March 3, 2012, Cristobal Serran-Pagan y Fuentes presented a paper entitled “Merton and Nhat Hanh: Love Is the Answer and Compassion the Solution” at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Atlanta, GA.

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     On March 12, 2012 Mary Frances Coady gave a presentation entitled “Very Nice and Friendly: Evelyn Waugh and Thomas Merton,” about Waugh’s visit to November 1948 visit to Gethsemani Abbey and the subsequent correspondence between the two writers, as part of a conference entitled “Evelyn Waugh: An Englishman in Catholic America” sponsored by Loyola-Notre Dame Library, Baltimore, MD.

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     On March 12, 2012, Daniel Horan, OFM gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: A Modern Prophet and Model of Contemplation and Action” at St. Patrick/St. Anthony Church, Hartford, CT.

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     On March 13, 2012, Cristobal Serran-Pagan y Fuentes gave a presentation entitled “Merton and the Spanish Discalced Carmelites: A Model of Monastic Spirituality between Desert and the City” as part of the Le Moyne College Campus Ministry Program in Syracuse, NY.

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     On March 16, 2012, Cristobal Serran-Pagan y Fuentes presented a spiritual direction seminar for pastors and ministers entitled “Merton and the Spanish Mystics: The Art of Finding a Balanced Life between Prayer and Work” at the Spiritual Renewal Center, Syracuse, NY.

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     On July 19, Paul M. Pearson gave a presentation on “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” at the Vancouver School of Theology on the campus of the University of British Columbia in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name featuring thirty-five Merton photographs that ran from July 2 through July 21 at the VST McMillan Library.

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     On September 4, the Spirituality Book Discussion Group at Old St. Mary's Church, Chicago, IL began a discussion of Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, led by Paulist Fr. Mike Kallock. For information on upcoming sessions, contact Fr. Kallock at: 312-922-3444 or

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     On September 10, the Iona Spirituality Institute sponsored a lecture by Mary Christine Athans, BVM entitled “Merton and Heschel – Partners in Prayer, Peace and Interfaith Dialogue” at Spellman Hall on the campus of Iona College, New Rochelle, NY.

Upcoming Events

    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: September 28-30: Bridges to Contemplative Living Facilitators' Retreat/Training; October 5-7: Private Retreat Weekend with Spiritual Direction; October 12-14: “Praying for the Government”  with Rev. Dan Coughlin, former chaplain of the US House of Representatives; October 30-November 1: “Bridges to Contemplative Living Facilitators' Retreat/Training”; November 2-4: Private Retreat Weekend with Spiritual Direction; November 5-7: “Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton”; November 9-11: “Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver: Poets of the Sacred”: December 3-5: “Advent and Christmas Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton”; December 7-9: “Bridges to Contemplative Living Advent Retreat”; 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:; 502-549-8277.

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     The Fall 2012 Merton Road Scholar (elderhostel) week will take place October 14-19, 2012 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. For further information contact Linda Bailey: 502- 272-8161; e-mail:

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     On October 16, Christopher Pramuk will give a presentation entitled “‘The Street Is for Celebration’: Thomas Merton, Racial Consciousness and the Music of the Inner City” in Horrigan Hall, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.

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     On October 23, Thomas Merton Center Director Paul M. Pearson will present a lecture on Merton’s photography at 7:30 p.m. in the Newman Theater at St. Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN, in connection with the exhibit “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton,” which is being shown in the Archabbey Library Gallery from August 29 through October 28, 2012.  For further information call 812-357-6611 or email

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     At the 2012 Call to Action National Conference, to be held November 9-11 in Louisville, KY, Rev. Barbara Zeman will lead prayer sessions entitled “Thomas Merton on the Hours: Prayer, Presence and Practice,” a 45-minute experience of monastic morning prayer incorporating Merton’s words and reflections. A pre-conference retreat day on November 9 at the Abbey of Gethsemani, led by Rev. Zeman, is also planned. For further information, see:

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     On December 1, 2012, James Finley will direct a retreat entitled “Thomas Merton:  Our Guide in Contemplative Living” at St. Paul Church, Westerville, OH.

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     On February 27, 2013, M. Shawn Copeland, associate professor of theology at Boston College, will present the Seventh Annual Thomas Merton Black History Month Lecture in Frazier Hall, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.

Chapter and Affiliate News

      The Arizona Chapter of the ITMS discussed “Merton and Eastern Religions” at its September 8 meeting at the Cornerstone Center in Phoenix. Topics for subsequent meetings include “Merton’s Teaching on Humility” on October 6 and “Bridges to Contemplative Living” on November 10. For further information contact Duncan McCauley at; 602-826-1982;

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     The Wall, NJ Chapter of the ITMS viewed the film Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton at its June 13 meeting. It will continue its discussion of Michael Mott’s biography The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton at its September 19 meeting. Subsequent fall meeting dates are October 17, November 14, and December 19. For further information contact Greg Ryan: phone 732-681-6238; email:

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     On May 5, 2012, the Thomas Merton Society of Washington, DC viewed the film Women Who Knew Merton, followed by a discussion and reception, at the St. Anselm’s Abbey School Auditorium. For further information contact Maryle Ashley: or 202-269-2300.

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     At its September 18 meeting, the Cleveland ITMS Chapter will discuss “Merton’s Seeds of Contemplation: Bearing Fruit in the Twenty-first Century” at Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, OH. For further information contact Sr. Donna Kristoff, OSU: 440-449-1200, ext. 314;

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     The 2012-2013 series of presentations sponsored by the Corpus Christi (NYC) Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, entitled “Common Threads: Thomas Merton and Interfaith Matters,” includes the following events: September 29, 2012: “The Dialogue of Practice:  Thomas Merton’s Conversation with Buddhism,” with speakers Judith Simmer-Brown and Paul Knitter; January 26, 2013: “Thomas Merton’s Dialogue with Judaism:  Merton & the Rabbis on Scripture and Vatican Council II” with Edward K. Kaplan; April 27, 2013: “The Challenge of Islam : Thomas Merton & the Personal Approach to Christian/ Muslim Convivencia” with Sidney H. Griffith and Daniel A. Madigan, SJ. The annual retreat day of recollection, to be held on November 12, 2012 in observance of Thomas Merton’s baptism at Corpus Christi Church, will be led by Sr. Mary Donald Corcoran, OSBCam, and is entitled “Thomas Merton and the Wisdom of ‘The Lone Wild Bird.’” Donation for the talks in $10; cost of the retreat is $20. Further information on the chapter and its activities is available at; e-mail:

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     On September 16, Sr. Judith Sutera, OSB will discuss “Contemplation across the World’s Religions” at the Chicago Chapter’s monthly meeting in the Immaculate Conception Parish Rectory assembly room.. For further information contact Chapter Coordinator Mike Brennan: phone: 773-447-3989; email:; website:

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     At its July 29 meeting, the Northern California ITMS Chapter discussed The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton. The next meeting of the chapter is scheduled for September 30. For further information contact John Berger: 916-482-6976; bergerjh@rcip.clm.

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     On September 21, the Thomas Merton Society of Italy (L'Associazione Thomas Merton Italia) is sponsoring a conference on Thomas Merton and Interreligious Dialogue at the Monastery of St. Gregory, led by Matteo Nicolini Zani, a monk of the Abbey of Bose and secretary of the Italian branch of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. For further information contact association president Maurizio Renzini:

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     On June 2, the Merton Fellowship of Ireland held a one-day retreat at Tobar Mhuire Passionist Monastery, Crossgar, Co. Down, on the topic “Exploring Unity.” For further information on the Fellowship, contact Scott Peddie:

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      On September 22, The Thomas Merton Society of Canada will sponsor a one-day seminar entitled “Awakening the Heart: Merton’s Call to Unity” with Christine M. Bochen at The University Club of Victoria at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC. For further information, contact the TMSC at 604-669-2546 or

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     On December 1, the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain & Ireland will sponsor a retreat day entitled “Reflections with Merton for Advent” led by Gary Hall at The Milner Hall in Winchester, UK. The cost – 20 or 25 for non-members – includes a hot lunch & refreshments. For further information see or contact Stephen Dunhill, 3 Seaview Cottages, Spittal, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 2QS, UK

Send all Merton-related news to:font>

Pat O'Connell

Box 3219

Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

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