The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

MERTON'S CORRESPONDENCE WITH:
Doherty, Catherine de Hueck, 1896-1985, "The Baroness"

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Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence

Dates of materials: 1941-1966, 1968

Volume: 66 item(s); 127 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This is one of the correspondence collections spanning the longest number of years of Merton's life, from the year before he entered Gethsemani through the later years of his life. We see some of his motivations for choosing Gethsemani over a life of service among the poor, but also the way he response to his responsibility to the rest of the world. His continued contact with Doherty serves as a connection out to the larger world even before he expressly addressed social justice issues from the monastery. The file consists of original letters and photocopies of letters from Doherty, and photocopies and carbon copies of letters from Merton. Merton typically did not regularly keep copies of letters from others before the early 1960's, so his retention of many of these letters from Doherty are an expression of their importance to him.

Biography

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, also referred to as "The Baroness" because of her marriage to Russian noble Baron Boris de Hueck, fled after the Soviet revolution into Canada. Having lost everything, she went from financial struggle and a failed marriage to rebuilding her fortunes by the end of the 1920's. However, wealth did not bring her fulfillment and she decided to give away her money and work among the poor in 1930. She established the first Friendship House in Toronto and later in the 1930's created one in New York's Harlem. After marrying Eddie Doherty in 1943, they founded Madonna House in rural Ontario, a place of retreat and lay apostolate training. Merton heard her speak at St. Bonaventure College while teaching there and felt inspired to come to Harlem and work among the poor in 1941. By the end of that year, he had decided on a vocation as a Trappist at Gethsemani, but remained in touch with Doherty. There is currently a cause for canonization of Doherty. (Source: The Hidden Ground of Love, p. 3.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please contact the St. Sergius Archives of Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario, to request those materials for which this institution is labeled the source.

Related Information and Links

See also published letters from Merton to Doherty in The Hidden Ground of Love, pp. 3-24; and see also the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

SeriesDateTypeTo/FromFirst LinesPubFull TextNotes
 1939/06/26 other The Story of Friendship House By The Baroness Catherine de Hueck [-] What it is? [-] How it started?  Doherty's pamphlet [30 pgs.] on the goals, history and future of Friendship House
 1941/10/06 TALS[x]from MertonFirst, thanks very much for letting me stand around Friendship House for a couple of weeksYes  
 1941/10/14 TALto MertonYour letter of October 6th, was a little gem all its own, I did enjoy its rambling ways, and here isYes  
 1941/10/25 TLto MertonNot having a coat I cannot strip it to answer yours...thanks though for the compliment of liking myYes  
 1941/11/10 TALS[x]from Merton...I feel rather astonished, to begin with, at the subtle way you interpreted the big fanfareYes  
 1941/12/06 TALS[x]from MertonMany thanks for your fine letter from Chicago. I feel very guilty for bringing up all that businessYes  
 1941/12/13 (#01)TLSto MertonYour letter was awaiting me upon my return. It would be foolish for me to say that I wasn'tYes  
 1941/12/13 (#02)HPCS[x]from MertonI entered the community as a postulant this afternoon. After that it will no doubt be hard, butYes  
 1949/02/14 TALS[x]from MertonAfter all these years I have an excuse to say hello and ask your prayers. The excuse is this.Yes  
 1950/02/06 HLSto MertonThis letter is one of a beggar - asking alms from you - the alms of prayer - for my new book.Yes  
 1950/02/13 HNS[x]from MertonI was certainly glad to hear of those 4 books. They all sound well and I'll keep praying at Mass.Yes  
 1956/01/24 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonDom M. James Fox has written to us about your request concerning an early Thomas Merton manuscript.  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/02/29 TLS[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonYour letter of February 21st arrived with the MS - both safely. I am sorry that there  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/03/14 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonI have had two copies of the Journal made, and I am returning your own copy under separate cover  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/03/16 TLS[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonThank you very much for your letter of March 5. I am glad that the little misunderstanding that  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/05/21 TLS[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonThank you for writing. I have been wondering what had happened to you, the manuscript, Father Louis  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/05/25 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonThanks so much for your letter of May 21st. I will certainly get together with Farrar Straus  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/07/10 TLS[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonNow I hate to think Madonna House is ruining the lives of your four nieces in England who used  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/07/26 TL[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonI have had the following from the Abbot at Gethsemani: "Since good Catherine is in her most  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/08/13 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonInitial good news from Gethsemani. Tom writes: "The Abbot General says we can go ahead with  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/08/17 TLSto MertonIt is such a joy to me that there is really a valid reason for me to write to you, for though I knowYes  
 1956/08/17 (#01)TL[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonThanks for your letter of August 13 which I hasten to answer. I also enclose a copy of my letter  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/08/21 (#01)TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonThanks so much for your letter of August 17th. I'm sure you will get some letter from Tom but  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1956/08/22 TALS[x]from MertonThanks very much for your letter. I was, and always am, glad to hear from you. Occasionally I getYes  
 1956/09/03 TL[x]to MertonThank you so very, very much for sending me that official release. It will do the trick withYes  
 1956/10/04 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonI am so happy to send for your signature two copies of the contract for THE CUBAN JOURNAL OF THOMAS  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1957/03/19 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonI just wanted to let you know that the Merton Journal has not been  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1957/03/25 TLS[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonIt certainly was nice to hear from you. I kind of have been wondering what has been happening  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1957/10/16 TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonI'm appalled to have the enclosed from Father Abbott [sic] Fox but I just hope that it will work out  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1957/11/06 TL[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonYour letter, which I just read from my return from Rome and the Lay Congress there and the many long  [copied from the "Curtis Brown, Ltd." file] news about <i>The Secular Journal</i> being held up by censors "has been quite a blow" - "in absolute dire need of money"
 1957/12/19 TLS[x]to Stone, Naomi BurtonHappy, holy Christmas to you! And I hope your New Year will be filled with peace and joy!  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1957/12/28 TLS[x]from MertonWe have all been waiting for a long time to find out what would be the final judgmentYes  
 1957/12/30 (#01)TL[x]from Stone, Naomi BurtonI'm terribly sorry to answer your letter of the 19th with any gloom and I've delayed answering it  [see the "Stone, Naomi Burton" file for letter - Naomi Burton Stone was Merton's literary agent from New York]
 1958/01/18 TLSto MertonYour faithful letter of December 28th reached me a few days late. I would be a liar if I saidYes  
 1958/02/11 TLS[x]from MertonToday we are celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Lourdes, and part of the celebration, for me,Yes  
 1958/02/17 TL[x]to MertonFrankly I read the first paragraph of your letter and felt slightly weak. It is no use denying thatYes  
 1958/08/26 TLSto MertonA thin parcel came the other day in the mail. It was late in the evening that I opened it -Yes  
 1958/09/18 TALS[x]from MertonYour deeply moving letter came the other day, just before I received from New York proofs ofYes  
 1958/09/25 (#01)TALS[x]to MertonYou sure put some obedience on me- and I mean it! This is the second time you do this to me-Yes [some parts of letter were removed - accompanying note from St. Sergius Archives of Madonna House of 1977/12/03 states that portions referring to a living person were removed according to Doherty's wishes]
 1958/09/25 (#02)TL[x]to MertonYou sure put some obedience on me- and I mean it! This is the second time you do this to me-Yes [some parts of letter were removed for reasons of confidentiality]
 1961/02/24 (#01)HLS[x]from Gabriel, Fr., O.C.S.O.It is 2 weeks now since I left our Passionist Monastery in Baltimore to come here, and it is almost  [the Gabriel authoring the letter had recently left a Baltimore Passionist Monastery to enter Gethsemani as a Trappist - see the next record of the same date for a note Merton adds to the letter]
 1961/02/24 (#02)HNS[x]from MertonIt was good to hear a letter about Madonna House from this good priest who is entering hereYes [see the previous record of the same date for the letter on which Merton's note was written]
 1961/03/17 TL[c]to MertonI haven't thanked you yet for the beautiful inscription on the wonderful book GOD IS MY LIFE.Yes  
 1961/05/26 TALSto MertonLately I have been in great agony of spirits and so I come knocking at your door asking for the almsYes  
 1961/07/22 TLS[x]from MertonYour letter was written on May 26 (anniversary of my ordination) and here we are alreadyYes  
 1962/03/17 TLSto MertonAre you weary? With the terrible weariness of one, who stands before our "man-made hell"?Yes  
 1962/06/04 (#01)TLS[x]from MertonYour long, wonderful letter has gone for nearly three months without an answer. But you can guessYes [Cold War Letters #79]
 1962/06/04 (#02)transcriptfrom MertonYour long, wonderful letter has gone for nearly three months without an answer. But you can guessYes [Cold War Letters #79]
 1962/10/11 TALSto MertonYour letter of June 4 has remained unanswered for a long time. But I know that you did not expectYes  
 1962/11/12 TLS[x]from MertonIt was good to get your letter and the poems, and especially the columns from your paper.Yes  
 1963/05/08 (#01)HL[d]to MertonThere are between our letters long periods of silence. I know you do not mind this, in fact I knowYes [labeled "1st draft"]
 1963/05/08 (#02)transcriptto MertonThere are between our letters long periods of silence. I know you do not mind this, in fact I knowYes [typed transcript of letter]
 1963/07/29 TL[x]to MertonIt is always thus with us.. you and me. You have written me in November 12, 1962, exactly.. and IYes  
 1964/11/15 HLSto MertonIt has been a long time since I have written to you.. But then speech is not always needed,Yes  
 1964/11/21 (#01)TAL[c]from MertonIf I don't answer your letter right away I will put it aside and then it will get buried in the pileYes  
 1964/11/21 (#02)TL[c]from MertonIf I don't answer your letter right away I will put it aside and then it will get buried in the pileYes  
 1965/12/16 TAL[x]to MertonWhat shall I say, this week before Christmas, to you whom my heart loves, perhaps share with you myYes  
 1966/01/12 (#01)TL[c]from MertonI have been wanting to answer your Christmas letter and your Advent anguish. It is probably goneYes  
 1966/01/12 (#02)TLS[x]from MertonI have been wanting to answer your Christmas letter and your Advent anguish. It is probably goneYes  
 1966/11/24 TL[x]from Monks of GethsemaniSee the note herewith on Father Louis. Thanks a lot for your letter to him. He read it and muchYes  
 1968/12/12 TAL[c]to Burns, FlavianThank you for your telegram. Father Louis in some strange mysterious way, I never quite understood,Yes [to Abbot Flavian Burns of Gethsemani Abbey upon hearing of the death of Merton]
 1984/02/05 TALS[x] from Shannon, William / to Starks, RichardThis morning I called Madonna House and spoke with Ms Janet Thompson who suggested that  [Fr. William Shannon was editor of <i>The Hidden Ground of Love</i> - Fr. Richard L. Starks was archivist of Madonna House]
 1984/02/12 TLS from Starks, Richard / to Shannon, WilliamHave received your inquiry about letters from Merton to Doherty, and have reviewed our files  [attached is a copy of the inventory of letters held at the Madonna House Archives]
 1984/02/28 TLS from Starks, Richard / to Shannon, WilliamAccording to my inventory of Merton's letters to Catherine, as well as your list in a letter to me,   
 undated/no/no other Catherine de Hueck Doherty, born into a wealthy Russian family in 1900, was married at the age of 15   
        

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