International Thomas Merton Society


                    Vol. 11, No. 1                                  Spring, 2004

Pilgrimage Retreat to Abbeys of France

    Jonathan Montaldo, former director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University and immediate past president of the International Thomas Merton Society, will lead a pilgrimage retreat to the Cistercian and Benedictine abbeys of France from September 24 through October 6, 2004. Fr. Clyde LeBlanc, SJ, an artist and retreat director, will serve as chaplain of the pilgrimage.
Highlights of the trip will include:
• one and a half days at Chartres Cathedral, with opportunity for a tour of Chartres’ stained glass and sculptures conducted by world-renowned expert Malcolm Miller;
• attendance at vespers at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Pierre at Solesmes, world-famous for its
Gregorian Chant;
• Mass in the crypt of the Abbey of St. Benoit-sur-Loire, location of the tomb of St. Benedict;
• visits to the monastery of Cîteaux, the “mother” of all Cistercian monasteries, and the Abbeys of Melleray and Bellesfontaines, founding mother houses of important monasteries in America (Our Lady of Gethsemani and St. Joseph’s Abbey respectively);
• a “Day of Recollection” at the Cistercian Abbey of Timadeuc, whose monastic choir is world famous;
• a tour of La Trappe Abbey, which gave the Cistercians their “Trappist” nickname;
• a visit to La Place de Vieux-Marché in Rouen, site of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc;
• a visit to Lisieux, and the Carmelite Chapel of St. Thérèse, the “Little Flower” and Doctor of the
Church, as well as to her childhood home, Les Buissonnets;
• a pilgrimage respite in the Loire Valley with a visit to “Chenonceaux,” the château of Catherine de Médici, and a wine-tasting party in the city of Tours;
• visits to the Cathedral cities of Rouen, Le Mans, Orleans, Dijon, and Paris, to the medieval
pilgrimage site of the twelfth-century Basilique Ste-Madeleine at Vezelay (rumored to contain the remains of Mary Magdalene) and to the Abbey of Saint-Denis, a jewel of the Gothic style and a national monument containing the tombs of French royalty;
• the pilgrimage will conclude with Mass at Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.
The pilgrimage will feature daily Mass and homilies by Fr. LeBlanc and conferences by Jonathan Montaldo on dimensions of monastic spirituality. For further information, view the pilgrimage brochure at or contact Best Catholic Pilgrimages at 1-800-908-BEST.

Merton Retreats Scheduled

     Four ITMS-sponsored retreats will be held in the coming months at various sites. This is the fifth time that the Merton Society has sponsored regional retreats during the year when a General Meeting is not held. The retreats are organized by local ITMS chapters with the assistance of the ITMS Retreats Committee, chaired by Walt Chura, which supplies a list of available retreat directors. All interested persons, both ITMS members and non-members, are invited and encouraged to participate. As with previous retreats, the theme is taken from the preceding year’s General Meeting: this year’s theme is “The Hawk’s Dream: Thomas Merton’s Sacred Landscapes.” This year’s retreats include:

• May 14-17, Lynn Szabo will coordinate a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY for presenters at the ITMS Eighth General Meeting and for the Daggy Youth Scholars who attended the 2003 meeting.

• September 3-6, Tony Russo will lead a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist KY, sponsored by the Cincinnati ITMS Chapter. Reservations for this retreat must be made by May 1 to reserve a room at the monastery. For further information contact Tony Russo, 8087 Bridgetown Road, Cleves, OH 45002; phone: 513-941-5219; e-mail:

• September 10-12, 2004, Walt Chura will lead a retreat at the Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY (in the Adirondacks), sponsored by the Capital (Albany, NY) ITMS Chapter. For a brochure, contact: Monica Murphy, CSJ, Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY 12858; 518-426-4284 (until June 24), 518-585-7545 (after June 24); email:; web site:

• November 26-28, 2004, Walt Chura will lead a retreat at the Holy Cross (Episcopal) Monastery, West Park, NY (in the Hudson Valley). For information contact: The Guest House, Holy Cross Monastery, P.O. Box 99, West Park, NY 12493; phone: 845-384-6660, ext. 3002; fax: 845-384-6031; email:; web site:

For updates on retreats, to receive a list of available retreat directors, or to provide notification of an upcoming retreat, contact the ITMS Retreats Committee chair, Walt Chura, SFO – phone: 518-456- 3201; email:

Merton Pilgrimages Scheduled

  The Thomas Merton Society of Canada is once again sponsoring Merton pilgrimages during the spring and summer of 2004. Tours to southern France and Alaska have been planned.

The “Thomas Merton in France” pilgrimage, cosponsored by Simon Fraser University, will take place June 24-July 4, 2004. It will be led by Donald Grayston, Judith Hardcastle and Monica Weis, SSJ, and will visit Prades, Merton’s birthplace, as well as St. Antonin, where he lived as a child, and Montauban, where he went to school. The program will include lectures by the directors, discussions, and free time, as well as opportunities to meet members of the local L’Association Française Thomas Merton. For further information contact Donald Grayston at 604-291-5516; email: or Judith Hardcastle at 604-669-2546; email;:

The “Thomas Merton in Alaska” trip, led by Donald Grayston and Judith Hardcastle, will take place from August 22 to August 29. Ports of call on this seven-day Alaskan cruise, departing from Vancouver aboard the Norwegian Sun, include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Wrangell. The Norwegian Sun also cruises the Sawyer Glacier in Alaska. Merton seminars on board will use Thomas Merton in Alaska: The Alaskan Conferences, Journals, and Letters and selected nature writings by Thomas Merton as resource material. For more information about cruise arrangements, contact Lindy Rothenburger, The Travel Group, 605 – 1200 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 2S9; phone: 604-681-6345; fax: 604-681-5301; toll free phone: 1-800-665-6345.

Daniel Berrigan to Speak at Bellarmine

    On Friday, April 16, 2004, Daniel Berrigan, SJ, Catholic priest, social activist and poet, will speak on “Thomas Merton, Nonviolence and Me” at Frazier Hall on the campus of Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY.

Fr. Berrigan entered the Society of Jesus in 1939, was ordained in 1952, and after studying in France, where he was influenced by the worker-priest movement, he taught at Catholic schools until becoming associate professor of theology at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY from 1957 to 1962. After serving as assistant editor of Jesuit Missions magazine in New York City 1963-65, he became associate director of United Religious Work and served as chaplain at Cornell University. He was active in opposing the Vietnam War and gained national attention for destroying draft registration files in Catonsville, MD, along with his brother Philip and seven others, in 1968; after going underground for a time, he served eighteen months in prison for this act of protest. He later participated with his brother and others in the first Plowshares anti-nuclear action in 1980 and was again jailed. A friend and correspondent of Thomas Merton, he was a participant in the retreat on “The Spiritual Roots of Protest” held at Merton’s hermitage in 1964.

He is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, social commentary and scriptural meditation. He currently lives in a Jesuit community in New York City, where he writes, lectures and works with AIDS patients. His talk is co-sponsored by the Bellarmine Thomas Merton Center and the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.

Merton Portrait Available 

The original artwork by Greg Lourens featured on the cover of the current issue of The Merton Seasonal is available for sale. The medium is colored pencil and the dimensions are 6.5 inches by 9.5 inches.Prints of the original are also available in card format.Further information can be obtained by emailing theartist at:

June TMS Conference Program Set

     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. Kenote presenters for the conference are Diana Francis, Tina Beattie and Fernando Beltrán Llavador.

The conference will also feature nine concurrent session speakers and five workshops. Concurrent session presentations include:

• David Belcastro, “Chanting on the Rim of Chaos: Sane Language in an Insane World”;

• Mary Frances Coady, “Thomas Merton and Alfred Delp”;

• Larry Culliford, “Faith and Courage: Vital Christian Remedies against Terror and Fear”;

• Donald Grayston, “Stranger, Bystander, Hermit: Transcendent and Political Dimensions of Exile in Thomas Merton”;

• Gerald Grudzen, “Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King”;

• Nigel Martin, “Beyond the Politics of Peacemaking – Retrieving the Mystery of Hospitality”;

• Patrick F. O’Connell, “The Civil Rights Poetry of Thomas Merton”;

• Paul M. Pearson, “The Artist in a Time of Crisis: Thomas Merton’s Artistic Response”;

• Joseph Q. Raab, “A Naked Emperor at the Rim of Chaos: The War on Terror and the Crisis of Language.”

Workshops include:

• Fiona Gardner, “The Crucible of Experience: Contemplative Prayer and Free Association”;

• Judith Hardcastle, “Thomas Merton: Social Critic, Prophetic Voice”;

• Amaara Raheem & Gillian Hipp, “Across the Rim of Chaos: Dramatic Reflection”;

• Miggy Scott, “Circle Dance”;

• Mary L. (Bunny) Stewart, “Merton and Me at the Rim of Chaos.”

The weekend will also include an address by TMS President, Canon A. M. Allchin, at the conference dinner, opportunities for worship and meditation including a concluding celebration of the Eucharist, and various cultural activities including music, poetry and film.

Fees for the conference are £175 for TMS/ITMS members, £185 for non-members, if paid by April 1, an additional £15 if paid thereafter. Non-UK participants may pay by credit card if bookings are made before April 1. Checks or postal orders should be made out to: “The Thomas Merton Society.” Fees should be sent to: Gary Hall, 51 Clumber Road, Leicester, UK LE5 4FH. Further information on the conference, including the complete schedule and registration form, can be found at the TMS web site:

Honorary Doctorate to Giroux

    An honorary doctor of humane letters degree was granted by Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY to editor and publisher Robert Giroux at its December 17, 2003 commencement ceremonies. A contemporary of Thomas Merton at Columbia University, Giroux accepted for publication and edited Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, and subsequently published numerous other Merton books. He was the commencement speaker for the ceremonies at Bellarmine, home to the Thomas Merton Center, the major repository of Merton’s manuscripts and other literary materials.

Born April 8, 1914 in Jersey City, Robert Giroux went to Columbia University where he was a student of Mark Van Doren, and became friends with poet John Berryman and with Merton, among others. At Columbia he edited The Columbia Review, where he published an early article by Merton. From 1940 until 1955 Giroux worked for the publishing firm Harcourt, Brace, rising to become editor-in-chief in 1947; the following year he edited the autobiography which first brought Merton to public attention. In 1955 he moved to Farrar, Straus & Cudahy publishers, becoming a partner in 1964 when the firm became Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

During his career Giroux edited works by ten Nobel Prize winners, including Hermann Hesse, T. S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Derek Walcott, William Golding and Seamus Heaney, as well as five Pulitzer Prize-winning books and ten National Book Award winners. In 1987 he received the Ivan Sandrof Award from the National Book Critics Circle for his “distinguished contribution to the enhancement of American literary and critical standards.” He has also been awarded the Alexander Hamilton Medal from Columbia University and the Campion Award from America magazine.

Since 1982 Giroux has served as a Trustee of the Thomas Merton Legacy Trust, which exercises authority over all publication and permissions related to Merton’s writings. His honorary doctorate was bestowed on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the burial of Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani.

Merton Annual 16 Now Available

     The Merton Annual, vol. 16 (2003) is now available to ITMS members at a reduced price of $14.00. The focus of the issue is on the continuing relevance of Merton’s teaching and practice of contemplation for contemporary people, especially non-monastics.

The volume includes a transcription of Merton’s conference “About Contemplative Life Today”; an interview with Merton editor and ITMS founding president William H. Shannon; twelve articles, including: William Apel, “Mystic as Prophet: The Deep Freedom of Thomas Merton and Howard Thurman”; Beatrice Bruteau, “Eating Together: The Shared Supper and the Covenant Community”; Daniel Carrere, “Standing Before God: Merton’s Incarnational Spirituality”; Pascaline Coff, “The Universal Call to Contemplation: Cloisters beyond the Monastery”; Dennis and Patricia Day, “The Associates of the Iowa Cistercians Sowing New Seeds of Contemplation”; Keith Egan, “Harvesting Seeds of Contemplation”; Fred Eyerman, “Thomas Merton Has Influenced Our Lives”; Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, “The Spiritual Network of Contemplative Outreach Limited”; David King, “Merton’s New Novices: The Seven Storey Mountain and Monasticism in a Freshman Seminar”; James M. Sommerville, “Merton as a Voluntary Prisoner”; Jens Söring, “The Kenotic Convict: A Divertissement on Contemporary Contemplative Spirituality in its Social Context”; and Frank Tuoti, “Contemplative Prayer: Antidote for an Ailing Generation”; an introductory essay, and a concluding postscript on the publishing history of the Annual, by editor Victor Kramer; a bibliographic survey of Merton-related work by editor George Kilcourse; and reviews of eight books. Orders should be sent along with a check payable to “Orca Journals” to: Mary Coyne, Orca Journals, Stanley House, 3 Fleets Lane, Poole, Dorset BH15 3AJ, UK.

Merton Book Festival

     On Saturday, May 22, 2204 at 7 p.m., a Thomas Merton Book Festival will be held in Cralle Theater at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. A group of Merton scholars will discuss their publications and the current and future direction of Merton scholarship and publication. The discussion will be followed by book signings and refreshments. Participants will include:

• Christine M. Bochen, co-author of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia and editor of The Courage for Truth, the fourth volume of Merton’s letters, Learning to Love, the sixth volume of Merton’s complete journals, and Thomas Merton: Essential Writings;

• Kathleen Deignan, editor of When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature by Thomas Merton;

• Donald Grayston, author of Thomas Merton, The Development of a Spiritual Theologian and editor of Thomas Merton: Pilgrim in Process and Thomas Merton’s Rewritings; • Jonathan Montaldo, editor of Entering the Silence, the second volume of Merton’s complete journals, and of Dialogues with Silence: Thomas Merton’s Prayers & Drawings, and co-editor of The Intimate Merton and Merton and Hesychasm;

• Patrick F. O’Connell, co-author of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia and editor of The Vision of Thomas Merton;

• Paul M. Pearson, editor of Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers and co-editor of Thomas Merton: A Mind Awake in the Dark.

Other participants for the book signings will include:

• Dianne Aprile, author of The Abbey of Gethsemani: Place of Peace and Paradox, Making a Heart for God and The Things We Don’t Forget;

• Patrick Hart. The Intimate Merton, The School of Charity, Run to the Mountain, The Other Side of the Mountain, Survival or Prophecy.

• Paul Quenon, OCSO, author of Terrors of Paradise and Laughter My Purgatory, and editor of the newmonastic journal Monkscript.

Call for Papers for Bellarmine Conference

     The Ethics and Social Justice Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, in conjunction with the Bellarmine Thomas Merton Center, is sponsoring a conference entitled “Guilty Bystander: Thomas Merton and Moral Reflection in the Professions,” to be held at the university March 4-5, 2005. The conference will seek to promote an understanding of Merton’s life and writing as it is applied to daily lives in professional work: education, medicine, law, media, ministry, business, etc.

Proposals are invited for presentations discussing how the writings of Thomas Merton have influenced one’s approach to work or vocation, or have impacted one’s response to an ethical dilemma in the workplace. Papers should be designed for presentation in thirty minutes (10-12 double-spaced pages) 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 email by April 30, 2004 to: For further information about submitting a proposal, or to submit a proposal in non-electronic format, contact Dr. Barry Padgett at 502-452-8204 or by email at the above address.

Owen Merton Exhibition Scheduled

     An exhibition surveying the career of Owen Merton, artist father of Thomas Merton, will be held at the Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand, from June 11 through October 3, 2004. Entitled “Owen Merton: Expatriate Painter,” the exhibition will bring together approximately forty works from public and private collections in the United States and New Zealand, ranging in date from his first visit to England in 1904-1905, to pictures painted in France in the late 1920s, with particular emphasis on work from Bermuda, Algeria and the south of France. A fully-illustrated catalogue containing a 7,000-word essay by art historian Roger Collins, who is currently completing a biography of Owen Merton, will be published to coincide with the opening of the exhibition. For further information check the web site of the art gallery:

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 sponsored a one-day conference entitled “‘So I Will Disappear’: Insights into the Writings of Thomas Merton,” held at the college on December 10, 2003.

Presentations included:

• 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 also participated in a roundtable discussion on “Merton in the Future,” which also included Paul M. Pearson, director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, and author and retired abbot Basil Pennington, OCSO of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, MA.

ITMS Authors

     Robert Waldron has recently published Walking with Henri Nouwen: A Reflective Journey (New York: Paulist Press, 2003) [$9.95 pb]. Similar in format to his recent volume Walking with Thomas Merton (2002), the book is written in journal form as a preparation for directing a retreat on spiritual writer Henri Nouwen and examines themes of brokenness transcended and integrated into Christian wholeness and provides accounts of Nouwen’s literary works, his interest in painting, iconography, music, and clowning.

Merton-Inspired Titles

     Two authors have recently drawn on the work of Thomas Merton for inspiration and even for their titles.

Terence M. Green, a Canadian fiction writer with seven published books, recently featured in Entertainment Weekly and currently writer-in-residence at Mohawk College, Hamilton, ON, uses Thomas Merton’s words as sectional dividers in his novel A Witness to Life (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1999) [$20.95 hbd; $12.95 pbk]. Green chooses eight passages from Merton that complement the narrative, ones that illuminate a character or an event. Merton himself makes an appearance in the novel when the narrator visits him in Gethsemani. Merton even provides the title for Green’s book: “A monk has nothing to tell you except that if you dare to enter the solitude of your own heart, you can go beyond death even in this life, and be a witness to life.”

Ten Circles upon the Pond: Reflections of a Prodigal Mother by Virginia Tranel (New York: Knopf, 2003) [$22.95 hbd; $14.00 pbk] is the author’s memoir of raising ten children, born between 1958 and 1978, and the changes in consciousness and in the wider culture that accompanied and influenced her family’s growth, numerical and otherwise. Tranel takes her title from a verse of Merton’s poem “Stranger”: “One bird sits still / watching the work of God: / one turning leaf, / two falling blossoms, / ten circles upon the pond.”

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, took place during the four Sundays of Advent at Gannon University, Erie, PA. Speakers included:

• 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 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.”

Merton Happenings

    On Nov. 7-8, Jonathan Montaldo presented a weekend retreat at St. Mark’s Church, Warren, MI.

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On Nov. 14-16, Jonathan Montaldo led a weekend retreat at the Dominica Retreat Center, McLean, VA.

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On Nov. 18, Jonathan Montaldo presented a lecture on Thomas Merton at St. Mary’s Church, Barnegat, NJ.

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On December 9, “A Remembrance of Robert Lax,” featuring readings, reflections and discussion of the minimalist poet and Merton friend was held at the City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA.

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On December 10, to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, the Thomas Merton Foundation, in cooperation with the Bruggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University, sponsored a presentation by civil rights leader Bernard LaFayette entitled “Contemporary Civil Rights: The Spiritual and Social Journey of Bernard LaFayette” on the Xavier campus in Cincinnati, OH.

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On February 6, Jim Forest delivered a lecture entitled, “Merton, Nouwen and Icons” at Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, BC; the following day, he spoke on “Merton and Peace: The Spiritual Roots of Protest” at the Main Branch of Vancouver Public Library.

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Thomas Merton Foundation director Robert Toth directed a Lenten Spiritual Development Program on Merton on four Tuesday evenings in March at the Foundation office in the Clifton Center in Louisville, KY. The program focused on Merton’s life and his teachings on contemplative spirituality, peace and social justice, and inter-religious understanding.

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March 28-April 2, 2004, a “Week with Thomas Merton” Elderhostel was held at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, directed by Merton Center Director Paul M. Pearson. For information on future Elderhostels, contact Linda Bailey – phone: 502-452- 8161; email:

Upcoming Events

     On March 26-27, Bonnie Thurston will present a retreat entitled “Thomas Merton: Man of Prayer” at the Kearns Spirituality Center in Pittsburgh; the two-day event will provide an introduction to some of Merton’s teachings on prayer, exploring what he meant by contemplation and his teaching on self and world as two “directions” of the spiritual life. For more information contact the center at 412-366-1124.

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On May 14-16 Fr. Patrick Collins will direct a retreat on “Thomas Merton and the Wisdom Tradition” at the Benedictine Center, Schuyler NE. Cost for the program is $60 plus room and board. For further information contact the center at 402-352-8819; fax: 402-352-8884; email:

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On May 21-23, Bonnie Thurston will lead a weekend retreat on Merton and Sufism at the Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, CA. For further information contact the center at 415-457-7727; email:

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On May 27, Paul Pearson will give a lecture entitled "Thomas Merton's Asian Pilgrimage" at Crane House in Louisville. For further information:  or call 502-635-2240.

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On June 9, Paul Pearson will give a lecture on the art of Thomas Merton entitled "A Monk with the 'Spiritual Equipment of an Artist:' The Art of Thomas Merton"at Christ's College, Christchurch, New Zealand. For further information contact Raymond Schmack:

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On June 11-12, Paul Pearson will lead a workshop on Thomas Merton, "Thomas Merton: Poet, Monk, Prophet" at St Thomas of Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand sponsored by the Adult Education Trust. For further information contact Kevin Gallagher:; or

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Merton scholars Fernando Beltrán Llavador and Francisco Rafael de Pascual, OCSO will make a presentation on Merton’s life and teaching at the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, which meets in Barcelona, Spain July 7-13, 2004. Further information on the gathering can be found at

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On July 15-22, Fr. Patrick Collins will direct a retreat on “The Spirituality of Thomas Merton” at the Franciscan Spirituality Center, La Crosse, WI. For further information contact Joan Weisenbeck, FSPA – phone: 608-791-5297; email:

Chapter News

    The Thomas Merton Society of the Capital Region (Albany, NY) hosted a party and program on January 31, 2004 at the Orchard Tavern in Albany to commemorate the birthday of Thomas Merton. The video, “A Taste of Gethsemani,” featuring interviews with some of Merton’s former novices, was shown, excerpts from favorite Merton works were read, and slides of “Merton’s Manhattan” were viewed. On Friday, March 19, the anniversary of Merton’s profession as a Trappist monk was marked by a showing of the video “Gethsemani,” about life in the monastery today. For further information contact Walt Chura, 518-456-3201; email:

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The January 2004 meeting of the Cincinnati Chapter featured reading and discussion of Jonathan Montaldo’s Presidential Address at the 2003 ITMS General Meeting in Vancouver. At the February Meeting, the group discussed possible topics for the coming year. It was decided to make “Merton on His Personal Prayer” the topic of the March Meeting, chaired by Don Sheehan along with Dave Thaeler. For further information contact Tony Russo: 513-941- 5219; email:

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The Chicago Chapter continued to discuss Merton’s Love and Living at its January and February meetings, focusing on “Cargo Cults of the South Pacific” in January and the beginning of the “Seven Words” section in February; the March meeting included a discussion of the film The Passion of the Christ as well as the “Theology” section of Love and Living; the April meeting will continue with sections of Part Two of this work. The chapter has also formed a contemplative prayer group that meets on the first Sunday of each month at the Monastery of the Holy Cross for discussion and silent prayer. For further information contact Gail Wallace at 815-933-4355.

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The Corpus Christi (New York City) ITMS Chapter cosponsored the fifth annual Merton / Nouwen Symposium, held on January 31, Merton’s 89th birthday. Jim Forest spoke on Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Western Explorers of the Christian East. The program commemorating Merton’s and Nouwen’s births was co-sponsored by the Henri Nouwen Society and the Center for Spiritual Development of the Archdiocese of New York.

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The Mississippi Chapter of the ITMS is sponsoring a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani June 21-25, 2004, led by chapter coordinator Dr. John H. Staggs. For further information contact Dr. Staggs at 662-369-2519; email:

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The new Northern Kentucky ITMS Chapter held its first meeting on January 25, 2004 at St. Timothy Church, Union, KY. The group will meet ten times a year on the third Sunday of the month. Discussions will be based on Lawrence Cunningham’s Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master as a study guide. For further information contact Fr. Mark Witte at 859-384-1100.

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The Sacramento ITMS Chapter hosted an ecumenical celebration commemorating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, held on December 11, 2003 at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Sacramento. The group continues to discuss Merton’s Contemplation in a World of Action at its monthly meetings, and is planning to read The Asian Journal next. A visit to the Trappist monastery at Vina, CA is planned for March 20. For further information contact John Berger at 916-482-6976.

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On Saturday, April 3, at 2 p.m., the Washington, DC Chapter of the ITMS will sponsor an afternoon of Lenten reflection entitled “Meditations Inspired by Merton” with Abbot Aidan Shea, OSB of St. Anselm’s Abbey. The meeting will take place in the abbey school auditorium, 4501 S. Dakota Ave, NE in Washington. For further information contact Mary K. Stanford at 301-320-4778.

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The Thomas Merton Society of Canada (Vancouver, BC) is sponsoring a number of events in the coming months. On January 24, Ron Dart spoke on “Thomas Merton and George Grant: Hawk’s Dream, Owl’s Insight”; on February 26, Kathleen Deignan, CND discussed her book When the Trees Say Nothing; the following day, she performed a concert entitled “My Name Is That Sky: A Celebration of Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality in Word and Song,” and on February 28 she led a one-day retreat on “Thomas Merton’s Celtic Soul”; on March 23, Jay McDaniel spoke on “Living from the Center”; on April 3, Michael Higgins will speak on “Thomas Merton: Twentieth-Century Pilgrim”; on May 27, Bonnie Thurston will speak on “To Everything a Season: A Spirituality of Time” and on May 29 she will lead a one-day retreat entitled “Seeing with Our Souls.” The annual “decadent dessert” party will take place on June 7. For further information contact Judith Hardcastle at 604-669-2546 or email:

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

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