International Thomas Merton Society


        Vol. 20, No. 2                                    Fall, 2013

Daggy Scholars and the Centenary

     At the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, Veronica Dagher, chair of the ITMS Advancement Committee, announced the initiation of the ITMS “One Hundred for the Hundredth” campaign, which seeks to encourage ITMS members to donate $100 to the ITMS in preparation for the Centennial of Thomas Merton’s birth on January 31, 1915. Part of the campaign focuses on the William H. Shannon Memorial Fund, which will provide funds for Daggy Scholarships, with the hope of raising enough money to bring 100 young people to the ITMS Fourteenth General Meeting to be held at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY on June 4-7, 2015. In conjunction with the campaign, interviews with past Daggy Scholars are being conducted by Fr. Jeff Cooper, CSC to highlight the continuing impact on them of Merton and of the program. These interviews begin with a conversation with 2007 Daggy Scholar Jessica Funk-Garvin on September 30, 2013, and will continue in future issues of the ITMS Newsletter. Comments by Daggy Scholars can also be found on You Tube: “What Thomas Merton Means to Me” at Further information on the campaign, with a form for sending donations, is available at

If I said the name “Merton,” what is the first word or phrase that comes to mind?

The first thing that comes to mind is the word “Contemplative” as the way Merton views the world. Another word is “Human.” Merton was very human and in his writing he pierces the heart of the human experience. I continue to be especially interested in Merton’s writings about the “True Self.”

What first attracted you to Merton? How did you come into contact with him?

I was invited by Christine Bochen to take a course on Merton as a Religious Studies major at Nazareth College. Since then Christine has become a good friend and through her and the class I was introduced to Fr. William Shannon and through them both I was able to continue to explore Merton.

What surprised you about Merton (shocked, consoled, affirmed)?

On the academic level (though I see the academic and the personal very intertwined for me in terms of Merton) it was his understanding of Catholic Christianity and what exactly is the Catholic experience. He was a convert to Catholicism as am I so reading about his experience as a convert affected me as both a student and a personal seeker. I especially resonated with his term “le point vierge,” the spark of the divine within, and this was transformative. I remember looking at people differently, remembering that they have a spark of the divine within them.

What holds your interest in Merton now?

Well, my interest in Merton began at Nazareth and it continues around interfaith studies. I remember reading Merton’s journals and letters, especially his conversations with Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hahn and Rabbi Abraham Heschel. Merton’s interest in interfaith dialogue encouraged me to get a Master’s in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago) in Judaism and Christianity. As I studied, Merton really formed my thinking in many ways.

Where do you see yourself in regards to Merton five years from now (scholarly interest – personal spirituality – connection with other Daggy Scholars – the ITMS community)?

I was a Daggy Scholar in 2007 as a senior at Nazareth. After getting my Master’s at CTU, I took a job as campus minister at an all-girls’ school in Buffalo, NY [where she still works]. I find in my campus ministry work with the students I always come back to Merton’s prayer: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going . . .” I think in the future a Ph.D. – perhaps in interfaith studies – might be a possibility, but currently in my on-going work I hope to use Merton more in what I do. Personally, I continue to read Merton and explore the heart of his spirituality. Christine Bochen really taught me how to break open Merton’s writing and explore the richness of it.

Thirteenth General Meeting a Success 

     “Living Together with Wisdom: Merton’s Call to Transform Our Hearts and Lives” was the theme of the Thirteenth General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society, held June 13-16 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. Approximately 240 people attended the conference, from at least twenty-eight states and six other countries. Major presentations included the Springboard Address by Christopher Pramuk entitled “‘She Cannot Be a Prisoner’: The Lure of Wisdom as Bearer of Hope”; the Keynote Address by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI entitled “Merton, Solitude and Difficulties in Being Present to the Now”; and General Session Addresses by Michael Higgins entitled “Thomas Merton as Public Intellectual” and by Elizabeth Dreyer entitled “Merton’s Monastic Wisdom: The Role of the Affections.”

Kathleen Deignan, CND delivered the Presidential Address entitled “Dreaming Together with Wisdom,” and the closing liturgy was celebrated by Abbot John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO, former student and fellow monk of Thomas Merton. A roundtable on Merton and Henri Nouwen featured Abbot Bamberger, Kevin Burns, Robert Jonas and Sue Moesteller, CSJ. A Thomas Merton and James Laughlin Panel included presentations by former New Directions publisher and Merton Legacy Trustee Peggy Fox and by Laughlin biographer Ian MacNiven.

 A Thursday dance celebration featured choreographer and performer Jimmy Locust in an original piece entitled “Wisdom,” and on Friday evening jazz pianist Deanna Witkowski gave a recital entitled “Jazz and Proverb: A Musical Portrait of Wisdom in the Work of Four Female Artists.”

 The conference included four opening sessions, thirty concurrent sessions, workshops and guided prayer experiences featuring thirty-eight presenters, as well as interfaith meditation and worship sessions.

 The site coordinator for the conference was Michael Higgins, Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart, assisted by Ami Neville and local volunteers. The Program Committee was chaired by Robert Grip, and included ITMS President Kathleen Deignan, ITMS Treasurer Paul M. Pearson, Michael Higgins, Christine Bochen, June-Ann Greeley, Christopher Kelly, Jeffrey Kiernan and Monica Weis, SSJ.

 At the ITMS Town Meeting on Saturday afternoon of the conference, ITMS President Kathleen Deignan announced that the ITMS Fourteenth General Meeting, commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton, will take place June 4-7, 2013 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. Kathleen Deignan will chair the Program Committee and Paul Pearson will serve as Site Coordinator; other members of the committee include ITMS President David J. Belcastro, ITMS Secretary Mark C. Meade, Christine M. Bochen, James Conner, OCSO, Robert G. Grip, Judith Hardcastle, Joseph Madonna, Jonathan Montaldo, Erlinda G. Paguio, Melanie-Prejean Sullivan and Monica Weis, SSJ.

New Officers and Board  

     The Officers and Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society for 2013-2015 were announced by outgoing president Kathleen Deignan, CND at the Town Meeting of the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting on June 15, 2013 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. 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, Donna Kristoff, OSU (chair), David Golemboski and Meghan Robinson.

 Officers are David J. Belcastro, president; Michael W. Higgins, vice-president; Veronica Dagher, secretary; and Mark C. Meade, treasurer; Kathleen Deignan, CND will continue to serve on the board as past president. Newly elected members of the board are: Donna Kristoff, OSU and Patrick F. O’Connell; Daniel Horan, OFM, Christopher Pramuk, Paul Quenon, OCSO and Meghan Robinson were re-elected to the board.

 David Belcastro is professor of religious studies at Capital University, Bexley, OH, and co-editor of The Merton Annual. He has served as a member of the ITMS Board and as vice president of the Society and has presented papers at twelve ITMS General Meetings.

 Michael Higgins is Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, and former President of St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, ON and St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB. He is the author of numerous books, including Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton. He served as site coordinator for the ITMS Sixth and Thirteenth General Meetings.

Veronica Dagher, a former Daggy Scholar, has led centering prayer meditation sessions at the ITMS Twelfth General Meeting and has served as chair of the ITMS Advancement Committee.

Mark C. Meade is Assistant Director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, and serves as co-chair of the ITMS Communications Committee.

 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.

 Daniel Horan, OFM is a former Daggy Scholar and Shannon Fellow who is presently a doctoral student in the Department of Theology at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA; he is a columnist for America magazine and is currently editing the correspondence of Thomas Merton and Naomi Burton Stone.

 Donna Kristoff, OS U is coordinator for the Cleveland Chapter of the ITMS and a former secretary of the Society. She is an artist and graphic designer who regularly creates the logo for ITMS General Meetings.

Patrick F. O’Connell, professor of English and Theology at Gannon University, is a founding member and former president of the ITMS and current edits The Merton Seasonal. He is the editor, most recently, of Thomas Merton’s Selected Essays.

 Christopher Pramuk, associate 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 most recent book is Hopes Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters across the Color Line.

 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, received 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.

 ITMS President David Belcastro has also announced that ITMS members from six countries will serve as International Advisors for 2013-2015. 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, North Sydney, Australia.

 Paul M. Pearson will continue to serve as ITMS Resident Secretary and Michael Brennan will continue to serve as ITMS Chapters and Affiliates Coordinator. Committee Chairs for 2013-2015 include Veronica Dagher: Advancement; Christine Bochen: Centenary; Robert Grip & Mark Meade: Communication; Virginia Kaib Ratigan & Jamie Fazio: Daggy Scholarship; Monica Weis, SSJ: Education; Joseph Madonna: Membership & Outreach; Patrick O’Connell: Publications; David Golemboski & Meghan Robinson: Retreat; Paul Pearson: Shannon Fellowship.

Louies Awarded 

      The 2013 Thomas Merton Awards, informally known as “Louies,” were presented by outgoing ITMS president Kathleen Deignan, CND on June 13, 2013 at the opening banquet of the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. The award is a bronze bust of Thomas Merton created by sculptor David Kocka. The recipient of the “International” award, given to an individual who has made a significant contribution on an international level to the promotion of Merton’s writings (in English or in translation) and to the presentation of his ideas, is Michael Higgins. The recipient of the “Thomas Merton” award, given to an individual whose work has made a significant contribution to Merton studies, is Anne McCormick; 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 Donna Kristoff, OSU.

 Michael Higgins, currently Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, is former President of St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, ON and St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB. He was co-convener of the first major international conference on Thomas Merton, held in Vancouver, BC in 1968, and was co-editor of Thomas Merton: Pilgrim in Process, the published collection of papers from that conference. He is the author of numerous books, including Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton. He served as site coordinator for the ITMS Sixth and Thirteenth General Meetings.

 Anne McCormick has served as a member of the Thomas Merton Legacy Trust since 1997, and is currently its chair. Previously she was the secretary of the Trust from its earliest days. The Trust, established on November 14, 1967 to oversee Merton’s literary estate, is responsible for arranging all copyright matters and takes responsibility for future publication of Merton’s work, as well as establishing policies regarding the collection and use of archival materials at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville and promoting public interest in Merton’s work.

 Donna Kristoff, OS U is the longtime coordinator for the Cleveland Chapter of the ITMS and a former secretary of the Society. She is an artist and graphic designer who regularly creates the logo for ITMS General Meetings. She has spoken and published extensively on Merton and art.

Daggy Scholarships Awarded

    Eighteen young people were able to attend the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting at Sacred Heart 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, Christine Bochen, Nass Cannon, Kathleen Deignan, David Golemboski and Cristobal Serran-Pagan. This year’s recipients describe their interest in Merton:

 • Legrand Junior Beauvais, a freshman at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, writes: “After being introduced to Thomas Merton, I feel he is the role model I was looking for . . . to learn how to be true and not false success for myself and others, and I think Thomas Merton may help in that long path.”

 • Joshua Bishop, a graduate student in the Theology Department at Fordham University, Bronx, NY, writes: “Since my research interests have to do with the history of Christianity in the Americas, I am interested in learning more about the hemispheric networks (both literary and religious) of which Thomas Merton was a part.”

• Erin Carroll, a senior at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, writes: “I believe that attending this conference will not only serve to educate me . . . but will serve as a source of inspiration as I continue to work with . . . organizations of peace in the future.”

 • Catherine Ciarallo, from Brampton, ON, writes: “I was first drawn to Thomas Merton as I sought to further develop my spiritual reading library while retreating at a Trappist Monastery. Through his witness of faith and by revealing the importance of contemplative prayer as a means of further uniting with our Lord, Merton opened me up to an aspect and beauty of the Catholic faith that I had not yet known.”

• Laura Dunson, a senior at Baldwin-Wallace University, Berea, OH, writes: “It would be an incredible privilege to see how Merton has affected others, learn about Merton in different and new contexts, and broaden both my understanding of Thomas Merton and the world through Merton’s eyes.”

 • Katie Fischer, a senior at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, writes: “I feel as if the connections I make between Merton and myself are teaching me to be in better conversation with myself, thus bringing me closer to understanding who I am and finding meaning in all things.”

 • Olivia Diane Haynes, a sophomore at Central State University, Wilberforce, OH, writes: “Being introduced to Merton’s works has allowed me to think outside of the normal framework of the past of African Americans. I look forward to learning more.”

 • Hunt Hoffman, a graduate student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, writes: “Recently I have been reading Merton’s journals and have felt an even deeper solidarity with him through the utter honesty that is present, especially with respect to his own doubts and questions about vocation and his place in the world.”

 • Casey Holland, a sophomore at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, writes: “Most importantly, I’d like to share Merton. The more I learn about him, the more I find him applicable to my life and the lives of those around me.”

 • Matthew Reid, a graduate student from Coventry, CT, writes: “As is the path of life, it seemed that furthering an understanding of Merton and his teachings would be something to pursue. Merton seems to have a deep understanding of the human psyche and philosophies of the human mind.”

 • Carolyn Rolleston, a senior at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, writes: “After reading several of his works, Merton continues to surprise me. I appreciate seeing the timelessness of his messages. Whether he’s writing about contemplation, God, war or social justice, there’s a universality that makes it quite special.”

 • Ashley Roman, a senior at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, writes: “I respect an individual that speaks his mind even though it causes controversy. Merton’s mind is that of a genius and all his works are inspiration.”

• Vincia Rountree, a sophomore at Central State University, Wilberforce, OH, writes: “I am looking to seek spiritual growth and gain not only in my life but in the lives of others. Having a career in ministry studying his work, reading, and a research project will give me the necessary skills and guide that I need.”

 • Daniel Ruiz-Sierra, a graduate student at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, writes: “Being an enthusiast of literature and philosophy myself and fundamentally a reader and seeker I have found in Merton a great companion for conversation.”

 • Christine Samwaroo, a sophomore at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, writes: “I am interested in Thomas Merton’s life because I believe that studying his life, I can gain new insight that would assist me in some kind of spiritual transformation through an awareness of Merton’s vision for a just and peaceful world. I think there is guidance and strength in Merton’s word waiting to be uncovered.”

 • B. Michelle Sherman, a Director for Vocation and Volunteer Ministry, a lay mission service program sponsored by the Religious of the Assumption, writes: “Merton’s work has been a formative guide in my own spiritual outlook. For me, Merton’s conversion memoir points to the necessity of receptivity and solitude in the spiritual life, which in turn serves as a basis for holistic growth.”

• Briana Stinson, a student at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, writes: “Merton’s way of thinking aligns with my own at times in a way that helps guide me in explaining to others the importance of social issues. I want to learn more about Merton and what he believed so that I can continue to strengthen my own opinions, and ultimately have a bigger impact on the world.”

 • Colleen Wilson, serving with AmeriCorps mentoring middle school students in Corning, NY, writes: “I’ve read through several of Merton’s works already, and though I have gained a conceptual grasp of his ideas, I don’t feel that I have scratched the surface of understanding the whole of such a brilliant and wonderfully human thinker.”

Shannon Fellowship Available 

     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.

  The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2014-2015 is March 15, 2014. Awards must be used between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. 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, 2014 meeting of the ITMS Board of Directors, who will make the final decisions on awards, and results will be communicated to applicants shortly thereafter.

Will D. Campbell (1924-2013)  

      Rev. Will D. Campbell, maverick preacher, author, civil rights activist and friend of Thomas Merton, died on Monday June 3, 2013 in Nashville, TN at the age of 88.

 Will Davis Campbell was born on July 18, 1924, in Amite County, MS, to Lee and Hancie Campbell. With his sister and two brothers he was educated at local schools, and attended Louisiana College before joining the Army in 1942, serving as a combat medic in the South Pacific during World War II. In 1946, he married Brenda Fisher, with whom he had a son, Webb, and two daughters, Penny and Bonnie; they survive him, as do four grandchildren. After earning a degree in English from Wake Forest College in 1950 and spending a year at Tulane University, Campbell graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1952. Following two years as a pastor at a small Baptist church in Taylor, LA, he became a chaplain at the University of Mississippi, where his growing opposition to segregation developed; he was forced after two years to leave the university due to death threats for his support of civil rights. He was a founder of the Committee of Southern Churchmen and longtime editor of Katallagete, its quarterly journal of politics and social change.

 As race-relations troubleshooter for the National Council of Churches from 1956 to 1963, he joined Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, James Farmer, Bayard Rustin, John Lewis and other civil rights leaders in protests and boycotts throughout the South. He was the only white person invited by Dr. King to the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and later that year helped escort nine black students through angry crowds in an attempt to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, AR. In 1961, he counseled and accompanied Freedom Riders of the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who integrated interstate bus travel at the cost of beatings by white mobs in Anniston, Birmingham and Montgomery, AL, and in 1963, he joined Dr. King’s campaign of boycotts, sit-ins and marches in Birmingham, one of America’s most segregated cities. In the 1960s, he protested American involvement in the Vietnam War, helped draft resisters find sanctuaries in Canada, spoke against capital punishment and criticized government and institutions in general for failing to provide solutions to the nation’s social problems. He travelled widely and was known for his ministry to a broad spectrum of people, including African Americans, poor whites and even members of the Ku Klux Klan.

 He wrote numerous books at his farm near Mount Juliet, TN, including critiques of modern Christianity: Race and the Renewal of the Church (1962) and Up to Our Steeples in Politics (1970); spiritual-historical novels: The Glad River (1982) and Cecelia’s Sin (1983); memoirs: Brother to a Dragonfly (1977), a National Book Award finalist, its sequel, Forty Acres and a Goat (1986) and Crashing the Idols: The Vocation of Will D. Campbell (2010, with Richard C. Goode); as well as various biographies, histories and children’s books. In 2000, he received the National Endowment for the Humanities medal from President Bill Clinton and was profiled in a PBS documentary entitled, God’s Will, narrated by Ossie Davis. “Brother Will, as he was called by so many of us who knew him, made his own indelible mark as a minister and social activist in service to marginalized people of every race, creed and calling,” former President Jimmy Carter said.

He became friends with Thomas Merton in the early 1960s, visiting him at his hermitage at various times from 1965 through 1968. Merton’s essays “Events and Pseudo-Events,” “Christian Humanism in the Nuclear Era,” “The Hot Summer of Sixty-Seven,” “Godless Christianity?” and “William Styron: Who Is Nat Turner?” were first published by Campbell in Katallagete. Will Campbell was a plenary speaker at the Seventh General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY in 2001.

George W. Gerner (1933-2013)

     Longtime ITMS member George W. Gerner of Annandale, VA died March 15, 2013 at the age of 79.  He was born in Eau Claire, WI on April 22, 1933, and was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. After serving in the United States Navy for three years he began a career with the Central Intelligence Agency, living in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Rome and retiring after thirty-five years with the agency. He was the recipient of the agency’s Career Intelligence Medal. In 1958, he was married to Margaret Duvall, with whom he had four children, Ann Birkmire of Orlando, FL, Eric Gerner of McLean, VA, Paul Gerner of San Antonio, TX and Mark Gerner of Aliso Viejo, CA. He is survived by eight grandchildren. In 1989, he married Virginia Gallo Curran, with whom he regularly attended ITMS General Meetings. He was an active member of the Thomas Merton Society of Washington, DC, and was frequently instrumental in securing speakers for the society’s quarterly meetings. He was part of the Mount Tabor Catholic Community in Vienna, VA and was active in service at the Adult Detention Center of Fairfax, VA and with his wife at the Juvenile Detention Center and the Leewood Nursing Home. He created and led the Woodson Area Interfaith Council for many years. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, in Vienna, VA on April 6, 2013, followed by burial at Quantico National Cemetery. Contributions in his honor may be made to Holy Cross Abbey, Berryville, VA or to Mount Tabor Catholic Community of Vienna, VA.

Call for Papers for CEA

     The International Thomas Merton Society will once again sponsor panels and presentations at the College English Association annual convention, to be held in Baltimore, MD, March 27–29, 2014. The conference is a gathering of 500-600 scholar-teachers committed to literature, writing, college teaching and related fields. This year’s general theme is “Horizons,” and one or more Merton panels are planned, along with possible individual presentations at other concurrent sessions. An allied organization of the CEA, the ITMS will provide limited financial support to defray expenses for panel participants. Possible topics include: “A Messenger from the Horizon” (1963 poem from Emblems of a Season of Fury); Expanding Cultural Horizons:  Merton and the East; Expanding Spiritual Horizons: Merton and Peace Activists; Expanding Ecological Horizons: Merton and Nature; Expanding Literary Horizons (poems, anti-poems, essays, etc.); Thomas Merton in Dialogue with various cultural and literary figures. Proposals of 200-250 words for a 6-8 page paper (15-minute presentation time) are due by November 1, 2013. Participants must be members of the CEA ($40/year) by January 2014. 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 and the Council Series at Bellarmine

    The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY is sponsoring a series of presentations on Thomas Merton and the Second Vatican Council in Horrigan Hall on the Bellarmine campus. The presentations are free and open to the public. On October 9, Michael W. Higgins spoke on “Thomas Merton and Pope John XXIII.” On October 16, Bonnie Thurston gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton, Vatican II and Women Religious.” On October 30, Edward Kaplan will speak on “Vulnerable Prophets: Thomas Merton, Abraham Joshua Heschel and Vatican II.” The series will conclude with a talk by Anthony Padovano on November 6 on “The Impact of Thomas Merton and Vatican II on the Church.” For further information contact the Center at 502-272-8177 or 8187.

Award for Nouwen Series

Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation “Ideas” series radio program, was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2013 New York Festivals Gala International Radio Competition for the World’s Best Radio Programs in the Information Documentary/Religious Program category. The series, produced by Bernie Lucht of the CBC and Kevin Burns of Seven Stories Media, and written and presented by ITMS Vice President Michael W. Higgins, aired on CBC Radio 1 and on Sirius Satellite Channel 159 and is streamed at Michael Higgins commented on the award, “This is a wonderful validation of the documentary approach to religious faith that understands it as constitutive of human meaning. So often the efforts to explore the religious sensibility are reduced to creedal, institutional and authority-specific issues. Genius Born of Anguish, by contrast, portrays the personal and existential aching into holiness of a complex and compelling figure more attuned to the tortured genius of a van Gogh and Kierkegaard than a conventional believer. We are honored by this prestigious recognition.” The NYF competition received submissions from 36 countries around the globe, and recognizes the most innovative work in radio broadcasting, with entries from radio stations, networks and independent producers. The grand jury selected 233 entries as finalists. The awards were presented on June 17, 2013 at the 2013 Radio Awards Ceremony during a gala in New York City held at the Manhattan Penthouse. The program was based on the best-selling book of the same title by Michael W. Higgins and Kevin Burns, published in Canada by Novalis Press and in the US by Paulist Press.


Bonnie Thurston’s newest book is Maverick Mark: The Untamed First Gospel (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013) [$14.95 paper]. Scripture scholar John Donahue, SJ has said of the book, “With a distinctive combination of scholarship, originality and vibrant prose, it captures the power and fascination of the gospel. It offers striking new insights into the radical character of an often domesticated gospel. Student and teacher alike will learn much when engaging this stimulating work.”

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Roger Lipsey has recently published Hammarskjold: A Life (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013) [$35.00 cloth]. Rowan Williams, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury, calls the biography of the United Nations Secretary General and author of the famed journal Markings “An admirably judicious and comprehensive – and long overdue – study of one of the most remarkable figures of the twentieth century, whose presence remains both spiritually and politically significant for an age of violently  confused international relations.”

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Judith Valente’s new book, Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2013) [$15.95] describes her growing relationship with the Benedictine women’s community at Mt. St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS and its impact on her life. Kathleen Norris calls it “a generous book from the heart of a good storyteller.”

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Judith Valente, Br. Paul Quenon and Michael Bever have collaborated on the new book The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 2013) [$14.95]. The book consists in a series of haikus composed by the three authors, inspired by the ninety-nine names of God found in the Koran, accompanied by a reflection by the same author or by a photo of nature by Brother Paul.

Video Inspired by Merton

       Interior Mythos Journeys has produced a new video entitled “Life Journey #1 – The Ultimate Encounter,” modeled on and inspired by Thomas Merton’s book Contemplative Prayer. Available on DVD, the video reveals the expanding significance for the twenty-first century of the encounter of the depth contemplative traditions of West and East, which grew from the meeting of Thomas Merton and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India in November, 1968. The video explores the encounter of these two traditions in providing the foundation for an intentional interior life practice within a contemporary global context and quantum scientific worldview. The music on the DVD is provided by Michael Fitzpatrick, cellist for the Dalai Lama and nephew of Merton Legacy Trustee emerita Tommie O’Callaghan. For further information and to view an excerpt of the film, see:

Merton Happenings

      On Thursday evenings from April 11 through May 16, 2013, Phillip Thompson, Executive Director of the Aquinas Center at Emory University, Atlanta, GA, presented a series entitled “Thomas Merton and Our Spiritual Quest in a Technological World” at the university. On four Wednesdays from April 17 through May 8, Alan Kolp presented a series entitled “A Quaker Looks at Thomas Merton” at Lakewood United Methodist Church, Lakewood, OH.

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      On the third Monday of each month from May 2013 through March 2014 (with breaks in August and December) ITMS President David Joseph Belcastro has been presenting “Contemplation in a World of Action,” a free series of meditation and study at the Martin de Porres Center in Columbus, OH, focusing on the writings of Thomas Merton and related authors. Each of the three-session presentations has focused on a particular Merton work: New Seeds of Contemplation (May-July); Thoughts in Solitude (September-November); and No Man Is An Island (January-March).

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      On June 17, as part of the program “Turning to the Mystics for Guidance in contemplative Prayer and Daily Life,” the 2013 Summer Institute at the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, TX, James Finley delivered a keynote address entitled “Contemplation in the Teachings of Thomas Merton.”

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      On June 23, Sr. Suzanne Zuercher, OSB, gave a presentation entitled “Inner Peace and the Planet’s Harmony,” focused on Thomas Merton’s ideas on ecological stewardship, as part of the Adult Faith and Enrichment Series at St. Nicholas Parish, Evanston, IL.

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      On July 8-12, Michael Higgins taught a course entitled “Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Architects of Spiritual Wisdom” at the Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC.

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      From July 10-24, the exhibit “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton” was given its first Australian showing at the Australian Catholic University Gallery in Melbourne. The opening address for the exhibit was given by Fr. Michael Casey, OCSO of Tarrawarra Abbey. The exhibit was supported by the Australian Catholic University, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Tarrawarra Abbey, the Oceania Leadership Team of Christian Brothers Oceania Province and The Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Between August 30 and October 6 the exhibit was presented at the Acme Et Al Gallery in Yarra Glen, Victoria, NSW. On September 14 Linda Espie presented an overview of the exhibit at the gallery.

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      On July 30, Marlene Milasus, OSB gave a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: A Life of Liberation” at the Upper Room Spiritual Center, Neptune, NJ.

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      On September 18, actor and playwright James Nagle presented “Alive at Fourth and Walnut,” his one-man, one-act presentation of the spiritual journey of Thomas Merton, at St. Barnabas Church, Northfield, OH.

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      On September 22, the Irish radio program Talking History (Newstalk 106-108 FM), moderated by Trinity College Dublin historian Patrick Geoghegan, featured an hour-long discussion of the life and legacy of Thomas Merton; participants included Cistercian monk Dennis Luke, OCSO of Mt. Melleray Abbey in Waterford; Merton Seasonal editor Patrick O’Connell; Merton Center director Paul Pearson; University College Dublin theologian Fr. Brendan Purcell; and author Mark Shaw.

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      On October 8, Monica Weis, SSJ gave a presentation entitled “Turning toward the Planet: Thomas Merton’s Ecological Conversion” at the Martin de Porres Center in Columbus, OH.

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      On October 17, Patrick F. O’Connell gave a presentation entitled “Continuing the Dialogue: Thomas Merton and Albert Camus,” as part of a conference entitled “Albert Camus & Philosophy of Communication: Making Sense in an Age of Absurdity” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Communication Association, at Gannon University, Erie, PA.

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      The Fall 2013 Merton Road Scholar [elderhostel] week was held October 13-18, 2013 at the Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. The Spring 2014 program will be held at Bellarmine March 16-21. For further information contact Linda Bailey: 502-272-8161; e-mail: On the Tuesday evenings in October, Vanessa Hurst, former executive director of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, is presenting a continuing education course entitled “Thomas Merton: The Echo of Silence and Peace” at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

Upcoming Events

     On October 24, Esther de Waal will give a presentation entitled “The Celtic Vision of Thomas Merton” at Llandaff Cathedral in Wales, sponsored by the Montgomery Trust. For further information see:


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     On November 7, 2013 Elizabeth Holmes will give a presentation entitled “Thomas Merton and the Contemplative Call Today” at the Meditatio Center, St. Mark’s, Myddelton Sq., London. For further information, see:

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     On November 15-17, Mark Scholefield will lead a retreat entitled “Hello Stranger – A Voyage of Discovery, Inward and Outward, with Thomas Merton, Anthony de Mello, Thomas Moore and Henri Nouwen” at the Ammerdown Centre, Radstock, Bath. For further infromation, see

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     On November 22-24, Bridget Hewett will lead a retreat entitled “Advent with Thomas Merton” at Shepherds Dean Retreat House near Newcastle, UK; for further information, see:

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     On November 30, Stephen Dunhill will lead a day of recollection entitled “The Present Advent: Reflections on Merton for Advent” at The Milner Hall in Winchester, UK, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland. For further information see:

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     The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY will sponsor the Eighth Annual Thomas Merton Black History Month Lecture on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. The speaker is Dr. Dorothy Cotton, who served as Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from 1960 through 1968, working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders while directing the Citizenship Education Program (CEP). As the Education Director she was considered one of the highest ranking women with the SCLC. After Dr. King’s death, she served as the Vice President for Field Operations for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia where she was a leader and senior trainer for the Center in areas nonviolence and empowerment for leadership. Under the Carter Administration, she served as the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION, the Federal Government’s agency for volunteer programs, from 1978 to 1981. Dr. Cotton has traveled extensively throughout the world, including visits to the former Soviet Union, The People’s Republic of China, Switzerland, Africa, Vietnam, and Europe while participating in international workshops and discussions on a broad range of current social and humanitarian issues. The event is free and open to the pub ic. For further information contact the Center at 502-272-8177 or 8187.


Chapter and Affiliate News

     The Corpus Christi (New York City) Chapter of the ITMS is focusing on the theme “Prayer of the Heart: Thomas Merton & the Orthodox Christian East” during its 2013-14 season. On September 28, Michael J. Plekon, Priest-Theologian of the Orthodox Church and Professor of Religion & Culture at Baruch College, will speak on “Thomas Merton & Modern Russian Religious Thinkers.” On February 1, 2014 Dr. Albert Raboteau, Putnam Professor (Emeritus) of Religion at Princeton, will speak on “The Body of Christ: Merton & the Cappadocian Fathers on Social Justice – The Face of Christ in Orthodox Thought.” On May 3, 2014 John Anthony McGuckin, Archpriest of the Orthodox Church and Professor of Late Antique & Byzantine History at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, will speak on “Thomas Merton & the Prayer of the Heart: Forms of Prayer in the Desert Fathers & Their Influence on Thomas Merton.” On Saturday November 16, the annual retreat, on the theme “‘Love Called Me out of Darkness’: A Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Thomas Merton’s Baptism,” will feature Jonathan Montaldo as Keynote Speaker, with Sr. Suzanne Zuercher, OSB and others also participating. For further information see the website: or contact Chapter Director Brenda Fitch Fairaday: phone: 212-865-7261; email:

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     The Wall, NJ Chapter of the ITMS discussed Merton’s Raids on the Unspeakable at its May 15 and June 12 meetings and Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton by Jim Forest at its September 18 and October 16 meetings. For further information contact Greg Ryan: phone: 732-681-6238; email:

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     The Cleveland Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society focused on “Thomas Merton & Thomas Berry: Brothers of the Universe” at its May meeting, which included a film: “Thomas Berry Speaks” and guided discussion of Merton’s creation spirituality, featuring articles by scholars about Berry and Merton. For further information contact: Sister Donna Kristoff, OSU: phone: 440-449-1200, ext. 314; email:

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     The Arizona Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society will be continuing its study of The Inner Experience by Thomas Merton at its meetings on the first Saturday of each month, from September 7, 2013 through May 3, 2014 at the Cornerstone Meditation Center in Phoenix. For further information contact Duncan Macaulay: phone: 602-826-1982; email:

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     The Thomas Merton Society of Canada held its annual Wine & Cheese Reception on July 11, 2013 at the Thomas Merton Room of the Vancouver School of Theology’s H. R. MacMillan Theological Library, in Vancouver, BC, followed by a presentation by Michael Higgins entitled “Two Monks and a Dutch Quester: Thomas Merton, John Eudes Bamberger and Henri Nouwen” in VST’s Epiphany Chapel. On October 18, Angus Stuart will give a presentation entitled “Poetry & Jazz: A Parable of the Soul” at St. Andrew’s United Church, North Vancouver, BC. On November 15, Kathleen Deignan, CND will speak on “My Druid Is Christ: Praying and Practicing the Celtic Mysteries” at St. Andrew’s. On the day following each presentation, there will be a workshop at St. Andrew’s under the title “Consonantia,” a term used by Merton to refer to the essential inner harmony of the universe. On October 19, Susan Du Moulin will lead an Introduction to the Labyrinth and Donald Grayston will lead an Introduction to Lectio Divina. On November 16, Brenda Wilkinson will lead an Introduction to Centering Prayer and Victoria Marie will lead a Prayer Circle for the Healing of Grand Mother Earth. For further information contact TMSC Community Relations Director Susan Cowan: phone: 604-988-8835; email:

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     The new Colorado Springs Chapter of the ITMS held its inaugural meeting on July 8, 2013 at the Agia Sophia Coffee Shop; the topic was Merton’s Louisville Epiphany. At its August meeting, Professor Eric Hanson led a discussion on “Merton and the Present Age.” For further information contact Rev. Roger Butts: phone: 719-433-3135; email:

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     The Capital (Albany, NY) Chapter of the ITMS sponsored its eighteenth annual “Merton in the Mountains” contemplative retreat September 6-8 at the Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY, coordinated by chapter coordinator Walt Chura, OFS. The weekend included presentations on the contemplative spirituality of Thomas Merton, as well as on his Franciscan view of creation and his appropriation of the Eastern Christian Wisdom tradition. For further information contact Walt Chura, OFS: phone: 518-456-3201; email:

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     At the September meeting of the Chicago Chapter of the ITMS, chapter member and PBS religion journalist Judy Valente gave a presentation entitled “A Writer’s Search for the Contemplative Life”; on November 17, Rosalie Riegle will speak on “Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community” in the Immaculate Conception Parish Rectory assembly room. In lieu of its October meeting, members of the chapter attended Sr. Joan Chittister’s talk “American Women and Women of the World” at the Siena Center of Dominican University in River Forest, IL. For further information contact Chapter Coordinator Mike Brennan: phone: 773-447-3989; email:

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     The Merton Study Group of the Columbus, OH Chapter of the ITMS is discussing Thoughts in Solitude at its fall meetings on the third Monday of each month. For further information, contact Tom Corroto: phone: 614-764-9335 (home); 614-264-6573 (cell); email:

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     At its fall meeting on October 19, The Thomas Merton Society of Washington is sponsoring a presentation by Jim Forest entitled “Thomas Merton as I Knew Him” at St Anselm’s Abbey School’s Reid Theater, 4501 South Dakota Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20017. The chapter discussion group continues to meet monthly, reading through a Merton booktogether. For further information contact Maryle Ashley at; or Br. Matthew Nylund, OSB at 202-269-2300.

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     The Northern California Chapter of the ITMS discussed Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander at its September 29 meeting, and will continue its discussion of the book at its November 24 meeting. On December 10, the chapter will commemorate the anniversary of Merton’s death with a Mass and pot luck supper at St. Ignatius Church. For further information, contact John Berger: phone: 916-482-6976; email:

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Pat O'Connell

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Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

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