International Thomas Merton Society


                    Vol. 10, No. 2                                  Fall, 2003

Eighth General Meeting a Success

    “The Hawk’s Dream: Thomas Merton’s Sacred Landscapes” was the theme of the ITMS Eighth General Meeting, held June 5-7, 2003 at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.  More than two hundred fifty people attended the conference, the first held on the Pacific coast and the second in Canada.  The meeting marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first major Merton conference, held at the Vancouver School of Theology, adjacent to the UBC campus, in 1978.

     Major presentations included: “Conjectures of a Disenchanted Reader,” the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Address delivered by Mary Jo Weaver, a participant in the original Vancouver conference; “A Wild and Desert Solitude,” the Springboard Address by Douglas Burton-Christie; “Thomas Merton and the Non-Christian Contemplative Traditions” with James Finley; and “Thomas Merton’s Shift: Critical and Transformative Spirituality” with Richard Rohr, OFM.  Jonathan Montaldo delivered the Presidential Address, “‘Going Home to Where I Have Never Been’: Thomas Merton’s Flight toward Joy.”  A Roundtable on the topic of “Merton and the East,” moderated by Bonnie Thurston, featured Roger Corless, Lucien Miller and Joseph Raab. 

     The meeting also included “The Paradox of Place,” an exhibition of Merton’s photographs, as well as a series of photographs of Prades, France, Merton’s birthplace, by Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO; morning meditation sessions led by Rev. Patrick Eastman and Eucharistic liturgies celebrated by Fr. Eastman with music by Kathleen Deignan, CND; interfaith and ecumenical worship services coordinated by Rev. Sharon Moore Cooke; entertainment by Canadian folksinger Ian Tyson and by Christopher Gaze, artistic director of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival; informal evening performances at “The Monk’s Cellar” and “Uncle Louie’s Bongo Bar”; five introductory focus sessions; and twenty-three concurrent sessions, workshops and performances featuring thirty-eight presenters.

     The site coordinator of the general meeting was Judith Hardcastle.  The Program Committee was chaired by Christine Bochen and included Donald Grayston, Judith Hardcastle, Michael Higgins, Ross Labrie, ITMS President Jonathan Montaldo, Patrick O’Connell, Paul M Pearson, Lynn Szabo and Monica Weis, SSJ.

     The conference generated many enthusiastic responses from participants.  One wrote, “Perhaps the best conference I’ve attended in my 65+ years.  I’m deeply grateful for your work.”  Another commented, “I think Merton would be pleased with all the friendships that exist resulting from these conferences.  I’m sure many people’s lives are positively impacted in ways we never hear.”  Other observations included appreciation of “the sense of egalitarianism among people (other conferences can become competitions among scholars) and genuine hospitality and kindness”;  “quality of speakers and the cohesion with which they segued into the overall scheme of the following speaker was excellent”; “the conference is a valuable resource as well as a lot of fun.”

     At the ITMS Town Meeting on Saturday afternoon at the conference, ITMS President Jonathan Montaldo announced that the ITMS Ninth General Meeting would take place June 9-12, 2005 at the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA.  Jonathan Montaldo will chair the Program Committee and Dorothy and Patricia Hulbert will serve as Site Coordinators; other members of the committee include Christine Bochen, Kathleen Deignan, CND, ITMS Treasurer Robert Grip, Patrick O’Connell, ITMS President Erlinda Paguio and ITMS Vice President Paul M Pearson.

New Officers and Board

     The officers and Board of Directors of the ITMS for 2003-2005 were announced by outgoing president Jonathan Montaldo at the Town Meeting on Saturday, June 7 during the ITMS Eighth General Meeting at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.  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 slates prepared by the ITMS nominating committee, Judith Hardcastle, chair, Gray Matthews, and Bonnie Thurston.

     Officers are Erlinda Paguio, president; Paul M Pearson, vice president; Robert Grip, treasurer; and Barbara Cliff Stoodley, secretary.  Newly elected members of the Board are: Kathleen Deignan, CND, Donald Grayston, Virginia Ratigan, and Lynn Szabo; returning members are Paul Quenon, OCSO and Bonnie Thurston; as immediate past president, Jonathan Montaldo will also continue to serve as a voting member of the Board.

     The new president, Erlinda Paguio, is Research Coordinator for the Office of Development at the University of Louisville.  She served three terms as ITMS treasurer (1993-1999) and has also been the ITMS representative on the Board of the Thomas Merton Foundation.  She delivered the Springboard address at the ITMS Sixth General Meeting in Waterloo, Ontario.

     Paul M Pearson, the new vice president, is the Director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, and founding secretary of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland.  He has co-edited two volumes of British Merton Society papers and is also the editor of the recently published Merton volume Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers.

     Robert Grip, the new treasurer, is news anchor at WALA-TV in Mobile, AL.  He has previously served on the ITMS Board (1999-2001), as Program Chair for the ITMS Fifth General Meeting, and as presenter at the “First-Timers Orientation” sessions at the Seventh and Eighth ITMS General Meetings.

     Barbara Cliff Stoodley, who is serving her third term as ITMS secretary, lives in Wilmington, DE.  She has served as facilitator for the “What Merton Means to Me” session at the ITMS Third General Meeting, as a member of the Program Committee for the ITMS Fourth General Meeting, and as mentor for the Daggy Youth Scholars at the ITMS Fifth General Meeting.

     Jonathan Montaldo, immediate past president of the ITMS, is former director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, site coordinator of the ITMS Seventh General Meeting, editor of Entering the Silence, the second volume of Merton’s journals and of Dialogues with Silence: Thomas Merton’s Prayers and Drawings, and co-editor of The Intimate Merton and of Merton and Hesychasm.

     Kathleen Deignan, CND is the founder and director of the Spirituality Institute at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY and a composer and performer of liturgical music.  She is the editor of When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature by Thomas Merton (2003) and presented a workshop on this topic at the Vancouver conference. 

     Donald Grayston, Professor of Religious Studies at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC and an Anglican priest, is the author of Thomas Merton: The Making of a Spiritual Theologian, and is currently at work on a book about Merton’s Asian journey.  He presented a workshop on Merton, Harold Talbott and Chadral Rinpoche at the Vancouver conference.

     Paul Quenon, OCSO is a monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he was a novice under Thomas Merton, and a present member of the ITMS Board.  He is a photographer and a poet, author of the volumes Terrors of Paradise and Laughter My Purgatory, and coeditor of the new monastic magazine Monkscape.  He presented a slideshow on Merton’s birthplace at the Vancouver conference.

     Virginia Ratigan is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rosemont College, Rosemont, PA, and coordinator of the ITMS Daggy Scholars program.  She was director of the first Daggy Scholars retreat, held at Gethsemani during the summer of 2002, and hosted the Daggy Scholars session at the Vancouver conference.

     Lynn Szabo teaches English literature and creative writing at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, and is a former Shannon Fellow.  She is currently completing a new edition of the selected poetry of Thomas Merton, in which she has a particular interest.  She spoke on Merton and Emily Dickinson at the Vancouver conference.

     Bonnie Thurston is a founding member, past president and current board member of the ITMS.  She is an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and until recently a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  She is the author of numerous books on scripture and on spirituality, and is now living in solitude in West Virginia.  She spoke on Merton and Islam at the Vancouver conference.

     ITMS President Erlinda Paguio also announced the following appointements as chairs of ITMS standing committees: Walt Chura, director of the Albany, NY ITMS Chapter, will head the ITMS Retreats Committee; Tony Russo, director of the Cincinnati ITMS Chapter, will chair the Membership Committee; Monica Weis, SSJ, professor of English at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, will chair the Publications Committee; David Belcastro, professor of religious studies at Capitol University, Columbus, OH, will chair the Shannon Fellowship Committee; Virginia Ratigan will chair the Daggy Scholars Committee; and Lynn Szabo will chair the Scholars’ Retreat Committee.  Edward Farley will continue as ITMS Chapters Coordinator.  William Paulsell, former President of Lexington Theological Seminary, will serve as ITMS representative on the Thomas Merton Foundation Board.  Former Daggy Scholars David Odorisio and Kristen Wisniewski will serve as ITMS Youth Advisors.

International Advisors

     ITMS President Erlinda Paguio has announced that ITMS members from six nations on three continents will serve the Society as International Advisors for 2003-2005.  They are Fernando Beltrán Llavador, Salamanca, Spain; Krysztof Bielawski, Kraków, Poland; Dirk Doms, Bruges, Belgium; Waldecy Gonçalves, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Michael Griffith, Sydney, Australia; and Angus Stuart, Bristol, England.

     Fernando Beltrán teaches at the University of Salamanca, Spain and directs the ITMS chapter there.  He has been a presenter at ITMS General Meetings and at conferences of the English Merton Society, as well as at Spanish Merton retreats.  He is the author of La Contemplación en la Acción: Thomas Merton and translator of a number of Merton works into Spanish.  He is serving his fourth term as ITMS International Advisor.

     Krysztof Bielawski was an organizer of the First Polish Merton Conference in 2002.  He has translated several of Merton’s writings into Polish.

      Dirk Doms works for the Belgian government and is an editor of Contactblad Mertonvrienden, the quarterly magazine of the Belgian/Dutch Merton Society.  He recently edited a book of daily readings of Merton texts and participated in the translation of Merton’s Basic Principles of Monastic Spirituality into Dutch.

     Waldecy Gonçalves is the primary organizer of the Brazilian Chapter of the ITMS, and received this year’s “Louie” award for international service to the Society.  He is serving his fourth term as ITMS International Advisor.

     Michael Griffith is Associate Professor of literature at Australian Catholic University in Sydney with a particular interest in the work of William Blake.  He delivered a paper on Merton and Blake at the Vancouver conference and is currently completing a book on Blake’s influence on the spiritual imagination in Australia.

     Angus Stuart is chair of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland.  Since 1996 he has been Senior Anglican Chaplain at the University of Bristol.  He has presented papers on Merton and the Beats at British and American Merton conferences.

Louies Awarded

    The 2003 Thomas Merton Awards, informally known as “Louies,” were presented by ITMS President Jonathan Montaldo during the closing banquet on June 7 at the ITMS Eighth General Meeting at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. 

     The award, a bronze bust of Thomas Merton created by sculptor David Kocka, is given at each ITMS General Meeting in three categories.  The International Award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution on an international level to the promotion of Merton’s writings and to the presentation of his ideas: this year’s winner is Waldecy Gonçalves.  The Thomas Merton Award is given to an individual who has written and published in the period between the General Meetings a work on Merton and his concerns that has brought provocative insight and fresh direction to Merton Studies: this year’s winner is Ross Labrie.  The Society Award is given to a member of the International Thomas Merton Society whose distinguished service has contributed to the aims of the Society and to the furthering of its goals: this year’s winner is Patricia Burton.

·         Waldecy Gonçalves, a Vice-President of the Brazilian subsidiary of IBM, organized the Brazilian Chapter of the ITMS as the “Sociedade dos Amigos Fraternos de Thomas Merton” on December 10, 1996.  The Brazilian Merton Society began with 150 members and has increased to well over 300 current members.  The Society sponsors annual retreats and has been instrumental in promoting the reprinting of numerous Merton titles in Portuguese.

·         Ross Labrie, professor of English at the University of British Columbia, published Thomas Merton & the Inclusive Imagination (University of Missouri Press, 2002), a wide-ranging work that places Merton in the tradition of English and American romanticism.

·         Patricia Burton of Toronto has put her bibliographic skills to the service of the ITMS in her Index to the Letters of Thomas Merton, the Index of Vols. 1-25 of The Merton Seasonal, the Merton Vade Mecum, a bibliography of Merton’s letters, journal entries and publications, and (with Marquita Breit and Paul M. Pearson) Thomas Merton, Secondary Sources 1945-2000, A Bibliographic Workbook.

Shannon Fellows Announced

At the June 4 meeting of the ITMS Board of Directors, President Jonathan Montaldo announced the names of the winners of the 2003 Shannon Fellowships.  They are: Daniel Bogert-O’Brien and Regina Derieva.  The Shannon Fellowship program was established in 1997 in honor of the founding president of the ITMS to promote scholarship on Merton and his work.  Up to five annual awards, of a maximum of $750 each, are granted to scholars for research on primary-source Merton materials at the Merton Center at Bellarmine University or other archival collections.  This year’s selection committee included Erlinda Paguio, chair, Waldecy Gonçalves, and Michael Higgins.

 Fellowship winners and their projects include:

·         Daniel Bogert-O’Brien, an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada and a post-doctoral fellow at St. Paul University in Ottawa, who will use his award for work on Thomas Merton and Ivan Illich; 

·         Regina Derieva, a poet and Russian Jewish convert to Catholicism currently living in Sweden, who will use her award for a translation of a selection of Thomas Merton’s poetry into Russian.        

     The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2004-2005 is March 15, 2004.  Awards must be used between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005.  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.

     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 the selection committee chair, David Belcastro, 818 Montrose Ave., Bexley, Ohio 43209; email:  The committee’s decisions will be announced to the ITMS Board of Directors at their May, 2004 meeting and will be communicated to applicants shortly thereafter.

Daggy Scholarships Awarded

     Eleven young people were able to attend the ITMS Eighth General Meeting at the University of British Columbia 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 Daggy Scholarship committee included Virginia Ratigan, chair, Paul Quenon, OCSO and Cristóbal Serran-Pagán.

     This year’s recipients included:

·         Willie Briscoe, a student at Capilano College, Vancouver, BC;

·         Mollie Gower, a student at Mount Holyoke College, S. Hadley, MA;

·         Lindsay Graham, a student at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC;

·         Timber Harkins, a student at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC;

·         John Mercer, a graduate student at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA;

·         Elegwen O’Maoileoin, a student at Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC;

·         Catherine Owen, a recent MA graduate of Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC;

·         Rani Sandhu, a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC;

·         Kenneth Shelton, a recent graduate of St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY;

·         Sara Taylor, a student at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC;

·         Kelley Ward, a student at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC.

In addition, five 2001 Daggy Scholars, David Odorisio, Theresa Sullivan, Theresa Walsh, Justin Williams and Kristen Wisniewski, were able to return for the Ninth General Meeting and were billeted with local families.


     A special gathering of Daggy recipients along with ITMS leaders and conference speakers on Thursday evening of the conference provided an opportunity for the students to interact with one another and with Merton scholars in an informal setting.   The meeting was coordinated by Virginia Ratigan and Cristóbal Serran-Pagán.

     Responses from scholarship winners indicated their appreciation and enthusiasm for the opportunity to participate in the General Meeting.  One commented, “I felt extremely encouraged in my appreciation of Merton.  Although I have read Merton for a long time, I had no idea there were so many devoted ‘followers’ and scholars.”  Another wrote, “Conversation was key: I enjoyed talking with Merton enthusiasts, asking them questions, and bouncing ideas off of them.  Just as I have found in graduate school, conversation is one of the most important components of learning; creating a ‘Merton culture’ is obviously one of the most important ways of disseminating his ideas.”  Another scholar concluded, “I feel as though I left with a new-found responsibility.  We are the future of the program, of the ITMS – an exciting and thrilling responsibility.”

Honorary Doctorate to Brother Patrick

    At its commencement ceremonies on May 10, 2003, Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Brother Patrick Hart, OCSO of Gethsemani Abbey, in appreciation for his years of  “dedication to Merton and Cistercian Studies, and for his boundless support of Bellarmine University’s Thomas Merton Center.”  The citation read at the ceremony noted that in honoring Brother Patrick, “Bellarmine University also celebrates the Abbey of Gethsemani and the close bonds between our two communities, bonds that have grown stronger over the course of the years since Bellarmine’s foundation.”

     Brother Patrick, a native of Green Bay, WI, entered the Brothers of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame, IN in 1947 and studied at Notre Dame University between 1948 and 1951, when he entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, taking the Cistercian habit on October 28, 1951.  He eventually completed his studies at Notre Dame, graduating in 1966.  In the meantime he had completed his novitiate at the Abbey, taking temporary vows on June 6, 1954, and solemn vows on June 24, 1957.  He was among the earliest monks of New Clairvaux Abbey, Gethsemani’s daughter house in California, and in 1957 returned to Gethsemani to become secretary to Abbot James Fox, a post he held until the mid-1960s when he was appointed to the staff of the Trappist Generalate in Rome.

     In the summer of 1968 Brother Patrick returned to Gethsemani as secretary to Thomas Merton, to take charge of Merton’s publishing affairs and other correspondence as Merton prepared for his Asian pilgrimage.  At the time of Merton’s unexpected death in Thailand Brother Patrick took on the position of liaison between the Abbey and the growing Merton community, a role he continues to play some thirty-five years later.

     As part of his responsibilities Brother Patrick has edited more than a dozen books by Merton, including such major works as The Asian Journal, Love and Living, The Monastic Journey and The School of Charity.  He served as general editor of the Complete Journals of Thomas Merton and personally edited the first and last of the seven-volume series, Run to the Mountain and The Other Side of the Mountain, as well as co-editing The Intimate Merton, a one-volume selection of the complete journals.  Most recently, he published Survival or Prophecy, Merton’s correspondence with the Benedictine monk and scholar Jean Leclercq.  He has also edited three collections of essays about Merton, written book reviews, forewords, afterwords and book endorsements in abundance.  

     Brother Patrick was also a founding member of the International Thomas Merton Society, an early ITMS Board member, and a frequent speaker at ITMS General Meetings and at Merton conferences all over the world.  He was a founding editor of The Merton Annual and served for a year as editor of The Merton Seasonal.

     In addition to his contributions to Merton scholarship, his early interest in monastic studies, encouraged by Merton, resulted in a number of articles during the 1960s about Celtic monasticism in Cistercian Studies, the journal of the Order, for which he served as editor from 1981 through 1991 and again in 2002; he is currently serving as book review editor for Cistercian Studies Quarterly, as the journal is now called.  Since 1974 he has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Cistercian Publications, which has issued dozens of volumes of monastic studies, both ancient and contemporary, including works by and about Merton.  

TMS Call for Papers

     The Fifth General Meeting of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland will be held June 18-20, 2004 at the Woodbrooke Study Centre in Birmingham, UK.  The conference theme is “Across the Rim of Chaos: Peace and Plenty – War and Destruction,” words drawn from Merton’s “Prayer for Peace” read in the US House of Representatives during Holy Week, 1962.   The conference will seek to engage the major issues facing the world at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century, drawing on Merton’s writings and developing and reinterpreting his insights for a new generation. 

     Papers relating to and responding to the theme are particularly sought for presentation at the conference.  Proposals concerning other aspects of Merton’s life and writings will also be considered.  Papers should be designed for presentation in thirty minutes (10-12 double-spaced pages, maximum) and proposals should be no more than 500 words.  Proposals are also invited for workshops (90 minutes) and for dramatic, poetic and musical reflections (45-90 minutes). 

     Proposals should be submitted by December 1, 2003 to Dr. Angus Stuart:  For further information about submitting a proposal, or to submit a proposal in non-electronic format, contact Dr. Stuart at the above address or by phone: +44 (0)117 924 4261 or +44 (0)117 954 6600.

Holy Cross Merton Conference

     To commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, the Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA is sponsoring a one-day conference entitled “‘So I Will Disappear’: Insights into the Writings of Thomas Merton” to be held at the college on December 10, 2003. 

     Presentations will include:

·         Christine Bochen: “The Merton Story: An Ongoing Conversation”;

·         John Collins: “The Root of War Is Fear: Reflections from Thomas Merton”;

·         Thomas Del Prete: “The Contemplative as Teacher and Learner: Insights from Thomas Merton”;

·         Jonathan Montaldo:  “Entering the School of Your Life: Journal Writing and the Examination of Conscience”;

·         Patrick O’Connell: “Thomas Merton and Transcultural Consciousness”;

·         William Reiser, SJ: “Thomas Merton: A Parable for Our Time.”

The presenters will also participate in a roundtable discussion on “Merton in the Future.”

     Attendance is free but is limited to 100 participants.  For further information contact Mrs. Patricia Hinchliffe, secretary at the Center, at

Berrigan, Dear at Bellarmine

     The Jesuit writers and peace activists Daniel Berrigan, SJ and John Dear, SJ will speak Thursday November 13 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.  Their joint presentation will be entitled “Thomas Merton, Nonviolence and Me.”  Co-sponsored by the Bellarmine Thomas Merton Center and the Cathedral Heritage Foundation’s Festival of Faiths, the talk will take place at 7 p.m. in Frazier Hall on the Bellarmine campus.  Admission to the lecture is $10 (free to Bellarmine students and staff).  For further information contact the Merton Center at 502-452-8177 or email:

Lake Erie Merton Series

     The fourth Lake Erie Merton Celebration, held at five-year intervals to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, will take place during the four Sundays of Advent at Gannon University, Erie, PA.  Speakers include:

·         Nov. 30: Christine Bochen: “The Merton Story: An Ongoing Conversation”;
·         Dec. 7: Jonathan Montaldo:  “Entering the School of Your Life: Journal Writing and the Examination of Conscience”;
·         Dec. 14: Paul M Pearson: “Redeeming the Rhinoceros: The Healing Power of the Night Spirit and the Dawn Air”;
·         Dec. 21: Patrick O’Connell: “Thomas Merton’s Marian Poetry.”

F. Merton Trier (1919-2003)

     Frank Merton Trier, first cousin of Thomas Merton, died in his sleep on July 20, 2003, at the family home of Fairlawn, West Horsley.  He was 84 years old.  He was the elder son of “Aunt Gwyn,” Gwynedd Fanny Merton Trier (1885-1986), sister of Merton’s father Owen.  Merton’s earliest known writings, five stories written as a teenager c. 1928-1929, were in a notebook kept by Merton Trier, and at least a couple of them were evidently written for Merton Trier and his brother Richard (1920-1968), when Thomas was staying with Aunt Gwyn and her family during the Christmas holidays of 1928.        

Ian Thomson (1934-2003)

     Ian Thomson, a founding member, and founding committee member, of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland, died in February, 2003 at the age of 68.  He served as membership secretary for the British Merton Society for many years and as assistant editor for the society publication, The Merton Journal, since its inception.  An educator, he had served as deputy head teacher in Milton Keynes; he was also a member of the Oratorio Society in Wells, where he lived.  He is survived by his wife Jeanne and his daughter Laura.

Encyclopedia Wins Award

     The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2002) by William H. Shannon, Christine M. Bochen and Patrick F. O’Connell was awarded first place as  Best Reference Work at the 2003 Annual Convention of the Catholic Press Association, held May 30 in Atlanta.  The citation called the volume “a comprehensive and authoritative resource on one of the most important spiritual guides of the twentieth century.”

Merton Happenings

    Marilyn Sunderman, RSM conducted a workshop entitled “Contemplation and Action: Exploring the Spirituality of Thomas Merton” May 30-31 at St. Michael’s Theological College in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.  The workshop, sponsored by the Centre for Caribbean Spirituality and Interfaith Dialogue at the college, was the first Merton event of its kind on the island and was well attended.

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     Fr. James Carruthers, CSB taught a course June 14-18, 2003 on “Thomas Merton: Contemplative, Poet & Literary Figure” in the Institute of Pastoral and Educational Ministry of Assumption University, Windsor, Ontario.

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     On September 19, Kathleen Deignan, CND and Jonathan Montaldo presented “My Name Is That Sky: A Celebration of Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality in Word and Song” at the University Forum of the University of San Diego, sponsored by the university’s Center for Spirituality.  The presentation was based on Kathleen’s recently published book When the Trees Say Nothing: The Nature Writings of Thomas Merton.

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     On October 1-5, Fr. Patrick Collins presented a three-day retreat on The Inner Experience, followed by a weekend retreat on “Wisdom” at the Vallombrosa Retreat House, Menlo Park CA.

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     On Oct. 3, Roger Collins gave a presentation on “Owen Merton’s Books” sponsored by the English Department at the University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ.

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     On October 16-19, Fr. Patrick Collins led a Merton Retreat for Deacons in Dallas, TX.

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    On October 30, Morgan Atkinson’s film Gethsemani was shown at Kelley Auditorium on the campus of Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH; the screening was followed by a conversation with the film-maker.  The event was sponsored by the Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and by Bellarmine Parish.

Upcoming Events

    On Nov. 7-8, Jonathan Montaldo will present a weekend retreat at St. Mark’s Church, Warren, MI.  For further information contact Joann Loria:

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       On Nov. 14-16, Jonathan Montaldo will lead a weekend retreat at the Dominica Retreat Center, McLean, VA.  For further information contact Mary Lynn Hickey:

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     On Nov. 18, Jonathan Montaldo will present a lecture on Thomas Merton at St. Mary’s Church, Barnegat, NJ.  For further information contact Fr. Cassian:

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     On January 2-4, Fr. Patrick Collins will direct a Merton retreat in  San Diego, CA.   For further information contact Patricia Hulbert:

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     On Jan. 5-9, 2004, Jonathan Montaldo will lead a retreat entitled “Going Home to Where I Have Never Been: Thomas Merton Retreat” at Kordes Retreat Center, Ferdinand Indiana; for further information contact the center at: 812-367-2777 or 800-880-2777; email:; website:

Chapter News

     The inaugural gathering of the Christchurch, New Zealand Chapter of the ITMS met in August. The group plans to meet monthly with pauses in summer and mid-winter.  Among those present for the initial meeting were a Presbyterian minister whose congregation included Merton’s great-aunt Beatrice (“Aunt Ka”) and a Sister of Mercy who exchanged letters with Thomas after his other great-aunt Agnes (“Aunt Kit”) was drowned in a ferry disaster in 1968.  For further information contact Fr. Raymond Schmack:

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     The May meeting of the Cincinnati Chapter focused on Merton’s writings on the meaning of evil in New Seeds of Contemplation.  The June meeting featured a viewing and discussion of Morgan Atkinson’s one-hour documentary film Gethsemani.  The July meeting was a celebration of Merton’s two countries, France and America.  The September meeting featured a discussion of Fr. Richard Rohr’s presentation at the ITMS Eighth General Meeting, which the group listened to on tape.  At the October Meeting, the group discussed Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (a book reviewed by Merton) and reviewed the September 19-22 retreat at Gethsemani.  For further information contact Tony Russo at

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     The Chicago Chapter discussed Merton’s Love and Living at its April and May meetings; the June meeting was the annual “Merton in the Park” picnic.  Discussion of Love and Living has resumed with the September meeting.  For further information contact Gail Wallace at 815-933-4355.

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     The Corpus Christi (New York City) Chapter will host Walt Chura as Retreat Master on Friday evening, November 14, 7-9:30 and Saturday morning, November 15, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.  The topics are “The Alchemy of God: The Meaning of Merton’s Manhattan” and “The Seeds of Thomas Merton.”  Cost is $20 for either or both sessions.  For further information contact Brenda Fairaday, Corpus Christi Church, 529 W. 121st Street, New York, NY 10027; email:

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     The Merton Society of Canada (Vancouver, BC) is presenting the “Merton in the Morning” lecture series at the Canadian Memorial United Church & Centre for Peace, which featured Lynn Szabo on Sept. 13, and will host Ross Labrie on Nov. 15, Ron Dart on Jan. 24, 2004, and Michael Higgins on April 3, 2004.  The Fall Retreat on Oct. 18 was led by Douglas Burton-Christie, who also spoke at the Thomas Merton’s Life & Thought series, cosponsored by the Vancouver Public Library, on Oct. 21; the Winter Retreat on Feb. 28 will be led by Kathleen Deignan, CND, and the Spring Retreat on May 29 by Bonnie Thurston, who will also speak on Feb. 26 and May 27, respectively, in the Life and Thought lecture series.  The annual “Thomas Merton’s Heavenly Birthday Bash” will be held at Heritage Hall in Vancouver on Dec. 12 from 8:00 p.m. until midnight and will feature the “Peace in the City Band.”  A four-part series entitled “Zen Mind, Christian Heart” led by Judith Hardcastle, Rev. Rose Gaskin, Rev. Koten Benson and Jay McDaniel will take place Jan. 10, Feb. 7, March 13 and March 20 at the Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace.  The TMSC will cosponsor a concert with the Chalmers Institute at Vancouver School of Theology on Feb. 27 with Kathleen Deignan, CND entitled “Merton’s Creation Spirituality in Word & Song.”  For further information contact Judith Hardcastle at; phone: 604-669-2546; website:

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     The Sacramento Chapter discussed Joan Chittister’s video on Merton’s Seeds of Contemplation at its May meeting and selections from Faith and Violence at its July and September meetings.  Discussion at the November and January meetings will focus on Contemplation in a World of Action.  The chapter is sponsoring a class on Merton on Thursday evenings from Sept. 18 through Dec. 11 at Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento.  For further information contact John Berger: 916-482-6976; email:

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     At its fall meeting on October 18, the Washington, DC Chapter hosted Fr. Maurice Flood, an assistant and friend of Thomas Merton and currently chaplain at Our Lady of the Redwoods Monastery in California.  The November meeting of the study group continued its discussion of Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.  For further information contact Mary K. Stanford at 301-320-4778; email:

    Send all Merton-related news to:
    Pat O’Connell
    Box 3219
    Gannon University,  Erie,  PA 16541

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