International Thomas Merton Society


        Vol. 21, No. 2                                    Fall, 2014

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. What follows is the third of these interviews, with 2009 Daggy Scholar Joseph Madonna,
a graduate of Iona College, New Rochelle, NY and a Latin and theology teacher at Iona Prep, New Rochelle, NY. 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?
If you said Merton’s name to me, the first word or phrase I would think of would either be “true self” or le point vierge.
What first attracted you to Merton? How did you come into contact with him?
What first attracted me to Merton was his smile on the cover of the edition of Seven Storey Mountain on my mother’s bookshelf that I never quite managed to pick up as a child/teenager. I first came into contact with Uncle Louis as an undergraduate student. I had an open slot for a course, and several of my friends signed up for a night class on Merton’s writings, and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship, and a shift in career goals.
What surprised you about Merton (shocked, consoled, affirmed)?
What surprised me at first was his frankness in discussing his conversion process, and the experiences that drove him closer into relationship with God, and eventually into the monastery. Nowadays, I am surprised by just how relevant his works are, not just to my own work in the classroom, but to the situations my students face every day regarding interfaith dialogue, technology, warfare and the need for spiritual peace.
What holds your interest in Merton now?
What holds my interest in Merton nowadays is his work in the formation of the novices at Gethsemani. As a teacher of Religious Studies at a Catholic high school, I look to him for insight and different ways of approaching the materials covered in my courses.
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)?
God willing, I will still be teaching my students about Merton, and incorporating his work into my curricula. Other than that, I just look forward to where my relationship with Merton will continue to take me, one book, one essay, one poem at a time.

2015 ITMS General Meeting Program Set

      At its June meeting, the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society approved the program for the ITMS Fourteenth General Meeting, to be held June 4-7, 2015 at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. The theme of the meeting is “Merton 100: Living the Legacy.” Plenary speakers include Christine M. Bochen, James Finley, Rev. Bryan N. Massingale and Archbishop Rowan Williams. The program will also feature an address by ITMS President David Belcastro, a panel on interfaith dialogue with Sidney Griffith, Edward Kaplan and Bonnie Thurston, an art exhibit entitled “Heaven in Ordinary: Painting Merton’s Photographs” by Charles MacCarthy, twenty-one concurrent sessions, nineteen workshops and guided prayer sessions, meditation sessions with Richard Sisto, Gerard Koehn and Mark Filut, OCSO, liturgy, including a closing Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, and entertainment.

Christine M. Bochen is a founding member and past president of the ITMS. She is editor of Learning to Love, the sixth volume of Merton’s complete journals, The Courage for Truth, the fourth volume of Merton’s collected letters, as well as several other Merton works. She is co-author with the late William H. Shannon and Patrick F. O’Connell of the award-winning Thomas Merton Encyclopedia.

James Finley is a clinical psychologist in private practice in California. As a young man he lived as a monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani, where Thomas Merton was his novice master and spiritual director. He is the author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere and several other volumes, and leads retreats and workshops throughout the United States and Canada on living a contemplative way of life in the midst of today’s busy world.

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale teaches at Marquette University, with particular focus on Catholic Social Teaching, liberation theologies, African American religious ethics and racial justice. He is past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, on issues of social ethics and is the author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church.

Rev. Rowan Williams served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury from December 2002 to December 2012. He was previously Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales after a teaching career at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and is currently Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University since January 2013. He has authored numerous volumes of theology, spirituality and poetry, including A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton (2011).

Opening sessions on Thursday afternoon of the conference will include a First-Timers’ Session with Robert Grip; Chapters Workshop with Michael Brennan; “Creating a Community of Merton Scholars” with David Belcastro, Patrick O’Connell, Paul Pearson and Joseph Raab; a showing of Morgan Atkinson’s film The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton, and Emerging Scholars’ Sessions with Benjamin Bradley, Jason Brown, Joshua Currie, Phil Garrity, Casey Holland, Michael Jerge, Hyeokil Kwon, M. Sophia Newman, Jaechan Anselmo Park, Anna Robertson and Lilin Wu.

Concurrent sessions include:

• “Merton and Church”: Raymond Carr & John Moses;
• “Merton and Dialogue with Asia”: Jon Douglas Anderson & Patrick F. O’Connell;
• “Merton and Discipleship”: Fernando Beltrán Llavador
& Daniel P. Horan;
• “Merton and Environmental Responsibility”: Kathleen Deignan & Marilyn Sunderman;
• “Merton and Gender”: Christopher Pramuk & Peter Savastano;
• “Merton and Historical Rebels”: Michael A. Brennan & Jon Sweeney;
• “Merton and Interfaith Dialogue”: Susanne Jennings & Cristobal Serrán-Pagán;
• “Merton and Liberation”: Mark C. Meade & Robert Rowen-Herzog;
• “Merton and Living Contemplatively”: Jonathan Ciraulo & Alan Kolp;
• “Merton and Living in the World”: Peter Ellis & Ryan Scruggs;
• “Merton and Meaning”: Jeffrey Cooper & David
• “Merton and Peace”: William Apel & James Cronin;
• “Merton and Personhood”: Nass Cannon & Jonathan Sozek;
• “Merton and Poetry”: Deborah Kehoe & Lynn Szabo;
• “Merton and Racism”: Paul Dekar & Michael
• “Merton and the Contemplative Pause”: Donald
Grayston & Gary Hall;
• “Merton and the Inner Journey”: Fiona Gardner &
Michael Plekon;
• “Merton and Zen”: Leslie Alldritt & Edward Sellner;
• “Merton as Educational Model”: Dominiek Lootens & Thomas Stewart;
• “Merton, Politics and Progress”: David Golemboski & Gordon Oyer;
• “Merton, Writers and Saints”: John P. Collins &
Paul Quenon.

Workshops, Guided Prayer and Special Presentations include:

• “Consonantia: Poetry and Jazz as a Parable of the Soul”: Angus Stuart;
• “The Echo of an Echo of a Voice Piercing the Silence: A Prayer Service of Silence, Music and Words Inspired by Thomas Merton and Abraham Joshua Heschel”: Jeffrey Kiernan;
• “Gloria Mundi”: Matthew Gesicki;
• “How Does the Apple Ripen? Merton, Mepkin and
Contemplative Aging”: Lyndall Hare, Guerric Heckel, OCSO & Christian McNamara;
• “In the Memory Palace of Thomas Merton”: Kevin Burns;
• “Making All Things New: Teaching Merton in a
Twenty-first-Century Classroom”: Joseph Madonna;
• “Merton, Arasteh and Final Integration”: Larry
• “Merton’s Groundbreaking Path of Peace”: John Dear;

• “Praying in Gratitude for the Church of Our Friends”: Jonathan Montaldo;
• “Sea & Sky: A Contemplative Performance of Robert Lax’s Poetic Masterpiece”: Steve Georgiou & Jackie Chew;
• “Shadow Raids on the Unspeakable”: Reg Bradley;
• “Simple Gifts: Meditating with the Legacy of Thomas Merton and the Shakers”: Paul M. Pearson;
• “The Spirituality of Restlessness: Merton as a
Model for Twenty-first-Century Contemplative Life”: Johnny Sears;
• “Still Speaking: The Long Encounter of Thomas
Merton and Dom James – A Reading for Two Voices”: Roger Lipsey;
• “Thomas Merton – Alive at Fourth and Walnut”: James Nagle;

• “Thomas Merton and the Post-human Adolescent – Identity Formation in a Connected World”: Glenn Loughrey;
• “Thomas Merton: Inviting the Edges of Awe”:
Marianne Heib.

The program committee for the Fourteenth General Meeting is chaired by ITMS Past President Kathleen Deignan, CND, with Paul M. Pearson as site coordinator; other members of the committee include ITMS President David J. Belcastro, Christine M. Bochen, James Conner, OCSO, Robert G. Grip, Judith Hardcastle, Joseph Madonna, Mark C. Meade, Jonathan Montaldo, Erlinda G. Paguio, Melanie-Prejean Sullivan and Monica Weis, SSJ. Registration materials, with further information on the schedule, costs and accommodations for the conference were included in the Summer 2014 issue of The Merton Seasonal. Information is also available at the Merton Center/ITMS web site:

Shannon Fellowships Awarded  

     At its June meeting, the ITMS Board of Directors awarded 2014 Shannon Fellowships to three scholars, William Murphy, M. Sophia Newman and Monica Weis, SSJ. William Murphy will use his grant to examine Merton’s writings as a point of reference for exploring the abandonment of mysticism and contemplation in Protestant churches; Sophia Newman will use her grant to consider Merton’s writings, particularly on nature and ecology, as a resource for evaluating the contemporary practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking); Monica Weis will use her grant to research a proposed book on Merton and the Celtic tradition.

The Shannon Fellowship program was established in 1997 in honor of the late Msgr. William H. Shannon, the founding president of the ITMS, to promote scholarship on Merton and his work. Up to five annual awards, of a maximum of $750 each, are granted to scholars for research on primary-source Merton materials at the Merton Center at Bellarmine University or other archival collections. This year’s selection committee includes Paul M. Pearson (chair), Fiona Gardner and Joseph Quinn Raab.

The deadline for applications for Shannon Fellowships for 2015-2016 is March 15, 2015. Awards must be used between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Awards will be based on the quality of the proposal submitted and on the need for consulting archival materials at the site proposed. Applicants must be members of the ITMS; they may join the Society at the time of application by including a check for $25, made out to “ITMS”, along with their proposals. Current officers and Board members of the ITMS, as well as grant committee members, are not eligible for fellowships during their term of office. Fellowships may be granted a maximum of two times to any applicant.

Application for Shannon Fellowships must include the following:
• a detailed proposal of 500-750 words explaining the subject and goals of the applicant’s research and the rationale for consulting primary sources at the Merton collection selected by the applicant;
• a letter of recommendation from a scholar familiar with the applicant’s qualifications and research interests;
• a proposed expense budget: grants will cover costs of travel to and from collections; expenses for accommodations and food during time of research at archives; costs of photocopying;
• disclosure of any other sources of funding awarded or applied for, with amounts received or requested.

Applications are encouraged from established scholars, from researchers without academic affiliation, and from students and younger scholars, including those engaged in research for theses and dissertations.

Completed applications for fellowships should be  sent to Dr. Paul M. Pearson, Director, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY 40205; email: [email protected]. The committee’s recommendations will be presented at the June, 2015 meeting of the ITMS Board of Directors, who will make the final decisions on awards, and results will be communicated to applicants shortly thereafter.

Daggy Scholarships Available  

      The International Thomas Merton Society will once again sponsor the Daggy Youth/Student Scholarship Program to make it possible for young people to participate in the ITMS General Meeting. The program is named in honor of the late Dr. Robert Daggy, founding member and second president of the ITMS and longtime director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. Scholarships cover all  costs (except transportation) of attendance at the Fourteenth General Meeting of the ITMS, to be held at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, June 4-7, 2015. The awards will also include one year’s free membership in the ITMS. Young people between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine, and full-time  undergraduate students up to the age of forty, are invited to apply.

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

Completed applications, including the recommendation,  must be submitted by March 15, 2015, to the scholarship committee chair, Jamie Fazio, Nazareth College, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618-3790; e-mail: [email protected]. Applications should include the age of the applicant, proof of educational status (if applicable), telephone number and email address (if available) as well as a return address. An application form and further information can be found at:

Any ITMS member who knows an eligible young person / student that would benefit from attending the 2015 General Meeting in Louisville should encourage him or her to apply for a scholarship.

Nominations Sought for ITMS Board 

    Members of the International Thomas Merton Society are invited to submit suggestions for qualified candidates to be nominated for election to the ITMS Board of Directors. Proposed candidates must be ITMS members. Each submission should be accompanied by a brief description of not more than 100 words summarizing the suggested candidate’s qualifications. Proposals should be sent by November 1 to ITMS Nominations Committee Chair Judith Hardcastle at [email protected].  

ITMS Authors 

    Jim Forest has recently published Loving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2014), in which he discusses nine disciplines of active love to live out Christ’s command in the Sermon on the Mount to love our enemies. Archbishop Rowan Williams calls the book “A statement of the Gospel challenge and the Gospel hope so clear that it is frightening: this is real, this is possible, this cannot be written off – and this demands change here and now in me. A book to be deeply grateful for.”

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Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems by Paul  Quenon, OCSO (Orleans, MA: Paraclete Press, 2014) features work developed from five decades of monastic life at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Pulitzer Prize finalist Maurice Manning says of the volume: “These poems pinpoint the tensions inherent in a spiritual life. The self must be present and yet the self must be willing to be negated. One seeks knowledge but also freedom from knowledge. One must be at home with what is said through silence. These are some of the mysteries of faith and the words of these poems invite me into them. By reading, we partake of these words and much more. It is a joy to have this book.”

Jane Marie Richardson, SL (1928-2014)   

      Jane Marie Richardson, SL, a member of the Loretto religious community for 67 years, died March 10, 2014 at the order’s motherhouse in Nerinx, KY. Born Mary Jane Richardson in Louisville, KY on June 2, 1928, daughter of Roy Clinton Richardson and Elsie Margaret Kippes Richardson, she was educated by the Loretto sisters at St. Benedict’s Elementary and at Loretto High School in Louisville and joined the order immediately after high school, receiving the habit on April 25, 1947. During her first six years in the community she taught music in elementary schools in Denver and St. Louis, receiving her bachelor’s degree in music in 1956 from Webster College in St. Louis. She then returned to Louisville to teach music at her alma mater, Loretto High School, and received a Master’s degree in Musicology at the Eastman School of Music. She subsequently taught at Webster College and Marillac College, served as Assistant Mistress of Postulants and later Mistress of Postulants at the Loretto Motherhouse, studied at Regina Mundi in Rome and the Institut Catholique in Paris, and was elected in 1964 to the order’s General Council and in the same year accompanied the Loretto superior, Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, to Rome for the Second Vatican Council, where Sr. Luke was the only official American woman observer. With Sr. Luke she attended the retreats for contemplative prioresses that Thomas Merton organized at the Abbey of Gethsemani in December 1967 and June 1968, and later edited the transcripts of these retreats, published as The Springs of Contemplation (1992). After serving as director of newly professed sisters at the order’s St. Louis House of Studies for four years, in 1968 she returned to Kentucky and became the principal author of the order’s revised rule, “I Am the Way,” which has continued to guide the community until the present day. Two years later, she founded Cedars of Peace, a contemplative retreat on the grounds of the Motherhouse, where she lived in solitude until 1990, while composing more than 150 songs for meditation and liturgical settings and participating in work for justice and peace, particularly for Central America. Moving to Louisville to live with another sister suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, she continued to live and work there until late 2013, serving on the Loretto staff as resource person for spirituality, offering spiritual direction, writing articles and doing retreat work. She was a founder of the Louisville Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society. Her reminiscences of Merton were published in an interview with Rev. George Kilcourse entitled “Life  through the Lens of Inner and Outer Freedom” in The Merton Annual 13 (2000).

Suzanne Zuercher, OSB (1931-2014)

     Sister Suzanne Zuercher, OSB, an active member of the Chicago Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society and author of two books on Merton, died on June 14, 2014 at St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL after 63 years as a member of the Chicago Benedictine community. Daughter of the late Charles and Clara Zuercher, she was born July 13, 1931. She was raised in the Park Ridge section of Chicago and graduated from the Benedictine-run St. Scholastica Academy in 1949, joining the community that same year. After making final vows in 1951, she studied at Loyola University, Chicago and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. She taught at various elementary schools in the Chicago area and joined the St. Scholastica faculty in 1960, first as a teacher and later as school psychologist, guidance director and college counselor. In 1967 she received a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Loyola, and later became a licensed clinical psychologist. In the early 1970s she served as campus minister at Loyola’s Water Tower campus and later taught at the Institute of Spiritual Leadership at Loyola, becoming co-director of the program from 1979 to 1985. She served as president of St. Scholastica Academy from 1994 through 2006. She was the author of six books, including Merton: An Enneagram Profile (1996) and The Ground of Love and Truth: Reflections on Thomas Merton’s Relationship with the Woman Known as “M”, published shortly before her death. According to Sr. Patricia Crowley, prioress at the monastery, “While she was very attuned to spiritual life, she was also in contact with an incredible number of people both nationally and internationally. She was a renowned speaker and presenter at workshops, a poetess and author and was known as a spiritual director and counselor.” A memorial Mass for Sr. Suzanne was celebrated on her birthday, July 13, at the Saint Scholastica Monastery Chapel.

Elbert B. Jean (1925-2014)

    Elbert B. Jean, one of the fourteen participants in the historic Peacemakers Retreat held at the Abbey of Gethsemani in November 1964, died on June 7, 2014 in Bowling Green, KY. Born March 18, 1925 in Smithville, AR, son of Will M. and Ina Montgomery Jean, he was a World War II veteran who was awarded five Bronze Stars and was twice held in prisoner-of-war camps. After the war, he received an undergraduate degree at Hendrix College in Conway, AR and in 1951 was ordained in the Methodist Church after completing his education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He served in various pastorates in Texas and Arkansas, including St. Luke’s Church in Little Rock, where he gained national attention for his support of the integration of the city’s Central High School. He remained a staunch advocate of racial justice throughout his life. He later moved to Nashville, TN to work with maverick Baptist preacher Will D. Campbell, first at the National Council of Churches’ “Southern Project” and later at the Committee of Southern Churchmen, while serving as pastor at Seay-Hubbard African Methodist Episcopal Church. Leaving the formal ministry, he turned his attention to the War on Poverty and served from 1964 to 1968 as the first Director of the Tennessee Office of Economic Opportunity during President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, and subsequently as the Director of the Tennessee Rural Concentrated Employment Program. In 1977 he returned to Arkansas to serve as the Field Director of the First Congressional District in Jonesboro for Congressman Bill Alexander, becoming an early champion of alternative fuels as a way of protecting the earth. In 1990 he moved to Bowling Green, KY, where he lived for the remainder of his life. He is profiled along with the other participants in Gordon Oyer’s recent book on the Gethsemani retreat, Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest (2014). He is survived by his wife, Joy Jenkins Jean, four children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Ned O’Gorman (1929-2014)

     Edward Charles (Ned) O’Gorman, award-winning poet and educator and correspondent of Thomas Merton, died March 7, 2014 at the age of 84. He was born September 26, 1929 in New York City, son of Samuel O’Gorman and Annette de Bouthillier-Chavigny, and grew up in Connecticut and Vermont in a wealthy family. He graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT and received a master’s degree from Columbia University, where he was mentored by Mark Van Doren, who encouraged his composition of poetry. He published six highly regarded books of verse, including The Night of the Hammer, which was awarded the Lamont Poetry Prize in 1958, and received two Guggenheim fellowships. He was active with the Catholic Worker movement and in 1966 opened a school in Harlem, The Children’s Storefront, which began as a children’s library, grew into a preschool, and by 1981 became an elementary school providing fully accredited, tuition-free education for poor children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, with a program that included French and Chinese lessons, classical music and Shakespeare along with more traditional subjects. He was literary editor for Jubilee magazine, founded by Merton’s friend and godfather Edward Rice, and later edited a collection of essays entitled Prophetic Voices: Ideas and Words on Revolution (1969), for which Merton wrote “Seven Words for Ned O’Gorman,” published in part in that volume and in its entirety in Merton’s posthumous Love and Living.

Fara Impastato, OP (1920-2014)

     Sr. Fara Impastato, OP, a valued member of the Columbus, OH Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, died May 8, 2014 at the Mohun Health Care Center in Columbus. Born August 29, 1920, the daughter of James and Cecilia Asher Impastato, she was a native and nearly lifelong New Orleanian. She joined the Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic, professing her vows on May 19, 1941, and graduated from Loyola University, New Orleans with a BA in history and received a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion in 1952 from St. Mary’s School of Theology, South Bend, IN. For nearly a quarter-century she taught in the Religious Studies Department at Loyola and later served as associate vicar of religious for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina she moved first to St. Catharine, KY, then to Columbus, as her congregation reconfigured as the Dominican Sisters of Peace. She was called by ITMS chapter coordinator Tom Corroto “one of the matriarchs of the Merton Study Group.”

Merton Communications Conference

     The second annual Philosophy of Communication Pre-Conference of the Pennsylvania Communication Association was held September 25-26, 2014 at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, with the theme: “Thomas Merton and Philosophy of Communication: A Centennial Celebration of His Work.” The keynote presentation by Patrick F. O’Connell was entitled: “From Communication to Communion: Thomas Merton on the Use and Abuse, the Functions and Possibilities of Language.” Other presentations included: Ronald C. Arnett, “Thomas Merton: Communicative Reflections on the Precariat”; Chelsea R. Binnie, “Philosophy of Communication and Contemplation from West to East: Arendtian and Mertonian Perspectives”; Johan Bodaski, “Thomas Merton’s Creative Silence”; Hannah Cherico, “Thomas Merton and an Ethic of Silence: Attending to the Other through the Construction of Silence in the Classroom”; Linda Coleman, “No Man Is an Island”; Jonathan R. Crist, CO, “Contemplating Paradox: Contemplation as Communicative Response in the Life and Works of Thomas Merton”; David DeIuliis, “Thomas Merton’s Engagement with Marxism”; Janie Harden Fritz, “Integrating The Seven Storey Mountain into an Honors Class on Intercultural, Interpersonal and Interreligious Dialogue”; Jen Jones, “Merton’s Existential Communication: The Meaning and Power of Love”; Aaron K. Kerr, “Borgmann on Merton: Exploring the Possibility of Contemplation in a Technological Age through a Diachronic Examination of Philosophical and Prophetic Speech”; Rachel Kosko, “Thomas Merton Engages Natural Law”; Jenna M. Lo Castro, “The Veil of Freedom: A Mertonian Perspective of Understanding Today’s (Just) War”; Joe Marren, “Using a Mertonian Perspective to Formulate an Ethical Code for Journalists”; Margaret M. Mullan, “The Presence of the Other Is a Call for Communion: Merton’s Interreligious Dialogue”; Ozum Ucok-Sayrak, “A Sense of Space and Community in the Communication Classroom.”

Scholars Retreat at Gethsemani

     On May 23-25, 2014 the biennial ITMS Presenters and Daggy Scholars Retreat was held at the Abbey of Gethsemani, with the theme based on that of the ITMS Thirteenth General Meeting, “Living Together with Wisdom: Merton’s Call to Transform Our Hearts and Lives.” Eighteen presenters and two Daggy Scholars participated in the retreat, which included opportunities to attend the monastic Eucharist and liturgy of the hours, as well as to share details of research interests and projects and the impact of Merton on personal as well as professional lives. Included in the itinerary was a visit to Merton’s hermitage, where Br. Paul Quenon read passages from Merton’s writings, particularly the collection of early Cistercian biographies entitled In the Valley of Wormwood and the still unpublished novitiate conferences on the liturgical year. The weekend also featured a poetry reading on Saturday evening in the Skakel Chapel of the abbey, as well as time for silent reflection and informal prayer.

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 Indianapolis, IN, March 26–28, 2015. 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 “Imaginations,” 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: Merton the imaginative writer/monk; Merton imagining the future; Merton imagining peace; Imagining 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, 2014. Participants must be members of the CEA ($40/year) by January 2015. Those interested in speaking at the convention are encouraged to contact Monica Weis, SSJ, coordinator of the CEA Merton sessions, at [email protected] 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:  

Catholic Press Association Recognitions

     At its annual Catholic Media Conference, held June 18-20 in Charlotte, NC, the Catholic Press Association announced the following awards to Merton Society members: first place for soft-cover spirituality books to Atchison Blue by Chicago chapter member Judith Valente (Ave Maria Press); second place in the same category to The Art of Pausing by Judith Valente, Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO and Michael Bever (ACTA Publications); third place for books on social teaching: Hope Sings, So Beautiful by Christopher Pramuk (Liturgical Press).

Merton Commemorative Issue

     The Nov.-Dec. 2014/Jan. 2015 issue of Weavings, with the theme “Monastery without Walls,” will commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton with articles by Paul R. Dekar, E. Glenn Hinson, Jonathan Montaldo and Paul Quenon, OCSO. Weavings is offering ITMS members a discounted 1-year subscription rate of $18.00 (4 issues) – 50% off the cover price; this is a phone-order only discount: to subscribe, call 800-972-0433 and ask for subscription special #N4JS01; orders should be placed by November 15 to receive the special issue.

Centenary Logo Decal Available

     A Thomas Merton Centenary Logo Decal, using the design created by Donna Kristoff, OSU, is available free of charge to ITMS members from the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. Copies of the decal have already been mailed to all ITMS chapters for distribution to members, but any other ITMS members who would like to receive a copy should contact Merton Center Director Paul Pearson at [email protected]  to request a decal; requests should include name and mailing address.

Peacemakers Web Site Begun

     Gordon Oyer has set up a web site to continue the conversation on topics raised by his recent book Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest: Merton, Berrigan, Yoder, and Muste at the Gethsemani Abbey Peacemakers Retreat. The site can be accessed at

Merton Poems on Music CD

     The CD album entitled Is Exotic Bait (Frenchkiss Records, 2014) by the group French Style Furs (Nathan Willett and Matt Maust of Cold War Kids and Nathan Warketin of We Barbarians) consists entirely of settings of poems by Thomas Merton, including “3 Friends,” “All the Way Down,” “(World in My) Bloodstream,” “Solitary Life,” “Miami U R About 2 B Surprised,” “Ambassadors of General Electric,” “Turn or Burn,” “Man the Master,” “Christmas Card,” “Clairvaux Prison.” A music video of “Turn or Burn” has also been produced. For further information see

Lax Celebrations

     On April 6, 2014, a program of poetry, dance and music entitled “The Contemplative World of Robert Lax” was held at the Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, CA featuring S. T. Georgiou (spoken word), Jacqueline Chew (pianist) and Jacqueline Corl-Seidel, Juliet Montagnon and Christine Bachich (dancers). On April 30, a program entitled “A Path of Light in the Darkness: Celebrating Robert Lax through Word and Music” took place at the Chapel of Saint Francis, Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley, CA, with S. T. Georgiou and Esteban Myers (spoken word) and Jacqueline Chew (pianist). These events were presented as part of “National Poetry Month” and were initiated as part of S. T. Georgiou’s yearly class on Lax at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Merton Happenings

     On April 1, 2014, Jim Forest gave a presentation entitled “The Friendship and Correspondence between Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton” at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, NY. On April 2-3, he gave a series of three presentations at St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue, NY: “Why Each of Us Is Called to be a Peacemaker”; “Thomas Merton’s Advice to Peacemakers”; and “Who Was Thomas Merton and Why He Still Matters.”

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On April 26, soprano Sherri Phelps and pianist Rachel Taylor performed the Niles-Merton Song Cycle at the Loretto Motherhouse Church, Nerinx, KY.

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On May 4, Jan Sheridan gave an audio-visual presentation entitled “Thomas Merton: The New York Years,” featuring her photographs of locations mentioned in Merton’s writings on his pre-monastic years, at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Schenectady, NY.

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On May 24, John Tallon led a retreat at Glastonbury  Abbey, Hingham, MA entitled “Contemplation: Prayer of the Heart – A Day of Contemplative Prayer as Taught by Thomas Merton.”

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On June 23, the Chapter House at Southwell Minster, Southwell, Nottinghamshire, UK hosted a reception marking the publication of the new book Divine Discontent: The Prophetic Voice of Thomas Merton by John Moses. On June 25, a reception featuring a presentation by Archbishop Rowan Williams, who wrote the foreword for the book, took place at St. James Church, Piccadilly, London.

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On July 10-12, Christopher Pramuk led a retreat/course entitled “Wisdom-Sophia in the Life and Theology of Thomas Merton” at the Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC, Canada, co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada. The event began with a public lecture on July 10 entitled “Thomas Merton: Breakthrough to Wisdom and Peace.”

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On July 21-23, Fr. Patrick W. Collins presented  a program entitled “Thomas Merton, Man, Monk, Myth and Music” at Bethany Spring, the retreat house located in New Haven, Kentucky, one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani.

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On July 16, Inscape Ministries presented a play entitled “Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day: Pilgrims and Prophets of Peace,” with David Hoover and Sharon Halsey-Hoover, at Holy Family Church, Albuquerque, NM, sponsored by the Trinity Catholic Worker House.

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On August 21-23, Jim Kettering directed a “Bridges  to Contemplative Living” retreat at Bethany Springs, New Haven, KY, followed by a retreat on August 23-24 on “The Asian Journey of Thomas Merton.”

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Edward Dufresne and Mary Ann Taylor are presenting  a six-week course on “The Life and Spirituality of Thomas Merton,” focusing on Merton’s The Sign of Jonas, on Tuesdays between September 30 and November 4, held on alternate weeks at Trinity Episcopal Church, Castine, ME and St. Margaret’s Church, Belfast, ME.

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From September 9 through November 11, St. Edmond’s  Church, Rehoboth Beach, DE is offering a 10-week series entitled “Sharing Merton,” facilitated by Toni Worsham, using readings from Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, edited by Christine Bochen. For further information contact Toni Worsham at 302-226-1321.

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On October 1, Bob Grip gave a presentation on Thomas Merton entitled “The Rebel Monk” as part of the “Pub Theology: Embracing the Faith in PUBlic” series sponsored by St. Lawrence Catholic Parish at McSharry’s Irish Pub in Fairhope, AL.

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On October 2, Christine Bochen gave a presentation  entitled “Envisioning What It Means to be Church with Thomas Merton” at the Spiritual Renewal Center, Syracuse, NY.

Upcoming Events

     On October 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2014, the Bellarmine University Continuing Education Office will sponsor a course entitled “Spiritual and Ecological Insight from Thomas Merton and Rachel Carson,” taught by Vanessa Hurst. For further information contact Martha Strobel: 502-272-8166; email: [email protected].

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On October 14, Monica Weis, SSJ will present a  lecture entitled “Finding the Sky within You” at the Loyola Center in Goiania, Brazil.

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On October 19-24, the Fall, 2014 “Week with Thomas Merton” Road Scholar [elderhostel] program will take place at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. The Spring 2015 Merton Road Scholar program is scheduled for March 15-20 and the Fall program for October 18-23. For further information contact Linda Bailey: 502-272-8161; email: [email protected].

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Upcoming programs at Bethany Spring, the retreat  house located in New Haven, KY, one mile from the Abbey of Gethsemani, include: “Bridges to Contemplative Living” on October 22-24 with Jim Kettering, followed by “The Asian Journey of Thomas Merton” on October 25-26; “Building Contemplative Relationships” with Vanessa Hurst on November 7-9; “Thomas Merton: Man, Monk, Myth and Music” with Fr. Patrick Collins on December 7-10. For further information, contact Rick Furman at 502-507-8576; email: [email protected] or rick@bethanyspring. org; website:

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On October 23, Michael W. Higgins will give a presentation entitled “Merton and Nouwen: Architects of Twentieth-Century Spiritual Wisdom” at the Catholic Information Center, Grand Rapids, MI. For further information call 616-459-7267.

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On October 31-November 2, a retreat on Thomas Merton and Teilhard de Chardin will be held at the Prairiewoods Ecospirituality Retreat Center, Hiawatha, IA; for further information call 319-395-6700; website:

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On November 7, David Belcastro will give a presentation on Thomas Merton at the Catholic Men’s Club “First Friday” luncheon at St. Patrick’s Church in Columbus, OH.

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On November 14-16, Robert Kaizen Kaku Gunn  will lead a retreat entitled “Spirit of Merton, Spirit of Zen” at the Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center, Litchfield, CT; for further information, call 860-567-3163; email: [email protected]; website:

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On November 16, Robert Ellsberg will give a presentation  on “Thomas Merton & the Catholic Worker Tradition: Twenty-first-Century Practices of Compassion and Works of Mercy” at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, presented in partnership with Interfaith Paths to Peace and Compassionate Louisville; the following day will feature topical workshops with local social service agency leaders, justice and peace organizations, Metro-government personnel and representatives from religious communities and non-governmental organizations.

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On November 29, a program on “Merton & Advent”  will be held at The Milner Hall, Winchester, UK, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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On January 30-February 1, 2015, a Merton conference  will be held at the Benedictine Abbey of Münsterschwarzach, Germany, featuring presentations by Otto Betler, OSB, Detlev Cuntz, Jim Forest, Anselm Grün, OSB, Gary Hall, Iris Mandl-Schmidt, Michaela Pfeiffer, OCist, Martin Tamcke, Kosmas Lars Thielmann, OCist and Thomas Wagner; the conference is coordinated by Detlev Cuntz and Wunibald Müller. For further information contact Detlev Cuntz: [email protected].

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On January 31, 2015, A Day of Celebration will be held in London to mark the centenary of the birth of Thomas Merton. It will begin with a service celebrating his life at Notre Dame de France, the French Church by Leicester Square, followed by a stand-up buffet lunch; in the afternoon there will be a talk and a panel discussion at St. James Church, Piccadilly, followed by a birthday tea party.

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On February 25, 2015, the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY will sponsor the Ninth Annual Thomas Merton Black History Month Lecture, presented by Alex Mikulich, co-author with Laurie Cassidy and Margaret Pfeil of The Scandal of White Complicity in U.S. Hyper-incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).

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On March 13-14, 2015, the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY and the Carmelite Monastery of Mary Immaculate and St. Joseph in Louisville is sponsoring a program entitled “Thomas Merton and the Spanish Mystics” to celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila and the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton.

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From July 26th - August 1st, 2015, Bonnie Thurston will present a week-long seminar on "Thomas Merton: Pioneer of Interfaith Dialogue" at Ring Lake Ranch, Dubois, WY.  For more information, please visit or call 888.458.5253

Chapter and Affiliate News

  •      On April 27, the Chicago chapter of the ITMS featured a presentation by Judith Sutera, OSB on her forthcoming book, The Vinedresser’s Notebook, reflections on how the work of tending the grapevines at St. Scholastica’s Monastery in Atchison, KS has taught her lessons about life. On September 21, the chapter celebrated a memorial for Sr. Suzanne Zuercher, OSB, featuring a talk by Greg Pierce, editor of ACTA Publications which issued her final book, The Ground of Love and Truth: The Relationship between Thomas Merton and the Woman Known as “M”. On October 19, June Sawyers will give a presentation entitled “Days and Nights on Iona: Celtic Contemplation, ‘Thin Places’ and Thomas Merton.” For more information, contact chapter coordinator Mike Brennan at 773-685-4736; email: [email protected].

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    On April 22, the Cleveland Chapter of the ITMS heard a presentation by Beverly Anne LoGrasso, OSU entitled “Thomas Merton and Pope John XXIII – Co-Conspirators for Peace.” On May 20, chapter coordinator Donna Kristoff, OSU facilitated a discussion on Thomas Merton’s dialogue with Judaism. At its September 17 meeting, the group viewed a video featuring Merton’s Kentucky friends and discussed the importance of friendship in Merton’s life. For further information contact Donna Kristoff, OSU at 440-449- 1200, ext. 314; email: [email protected].

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    On June 16, the Columbus, OH Chapter of the ITMS continued its discussion of Thomas Merton’s No Man Is an Island at the Martin de Porres Center. At its September 15 meeting, the group began discussion of Love and Living. For further information contact Tom Corroto at: [email protected].

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    On September 17, the Corpus Christi Chapter (NYC) of the International Thomas Merton Society sponsored a presentation by James Martin, SJ entitled “Thomas Merton Changed My Life” at Lerner Hall of Columbia University, New York City, part of the season-long program of the chapter on “Bearing Witness: Thomas Merton, Contemplation & Action.” For further information see the chapter website:, or contact chapter coordinator Brenda Fitch Fairaday: 212-865-7261; email: [email protected].

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    On September 28 the Northern California Chapter  of the ITMS met at the St. Francis Parish Center in Sacramento to discuss Thomas Merton’s No Man Is an Island. Future meetings are scheduled for November 30, January 25 and March 29. For further information contact chapter coordinator John Berger: phone: 916-482-6976; email: [email protected].

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    On April 28, the Merton Interfaith Chapter of Delaware sponsored a presentation by Toni Worsham entitled “Thomas Merton: More than Seven Stories” at St. Edmond’s Church, Rohoboth Beach. On May 29, the chapter discussed “Climate Change: We’re in This Together – Our Moral Responsibility & What We Can Do” at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lewes, DE. On June 28, the group heard a presentation by Kathleen Deignan, CND entitled “Love for the Paradise Mystery: Thomas Merton, Contemplative Ecologist” at Epworth on the Ocean, Rehoboth Beach. The group has also begun a practicum of contemplative silence and interfaith dialogue in a small group setting under the direction of Rev. Keith Goheen. For further information contact chapter coordinator George Beckerman at [email protected].

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    On April 16, the Wall, NJ Chapter of the ITMS discussed the first half of John Howard Griffin’s The Hermitage Journals which he kept while working on his biography of Merton; the group finished its discussion of the book at its May 14 meeting, and on June 11 discussed Merton’s booklet Praying the Psalms. On October 15 and November 12, the group will discuss The Springs of Contemplation. For further information contact chapter coordinator Greg Ryan: 732-681-6238; email: [email protected].

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    On November 8 the Washington, DC Chapter of  the ITMS will sponsor a presentation by Paul M. Pearson at St. Anselm’s Abbey entitled “‘I love beer, and, by that very fact, the world’ – The Humor and Humanity of Thomas Merton.” For further information, contact: Maryle Ashley: [email protected]; or Betsy O’Brien: [email protected].

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    On April 11-12, the Thomas Merton Society of  Canada’s Consonantia series featured a presentation by Jeannette Stigger on “Praying with Icons” on Friday evening followed on Saturday by two workshops: on “Audio Divina” with Susan DuMoulin and “The Practice of Silence” with Kathi Bentall, held at St. Andrew’s United Church, N. Vancouver, BC. On May 9, the chapter sponsored a presentation entitled “The Holy in the Ordinary: Celtic Christian Spirituality” with Lynne McNaughton; on May 10, workshops on contemplative photography with Joanne Duma and centering prayer with Kathleen Symons were offered. On September 27, the Consonantia program featured workshops on “Mandela Fusion” with Julie Lees and “Spiritual Autobiography” with Ray McGinnis. For further information see the society website at or contact Susan Cowan, TMSC Community Relations Director, at [email protected] or 604-988-8835.

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    The Merton Fellowship for Peace & Contemplative Living (Ireland) sponsored a retreat focused on Thomas Merton’s teaching on nonviolence on March 1, 2014 at Drumalis Retreat Centre, Larne, Co. Antrim. On May 3, a retreat entitled “Learning from the Monastic Experience” was held at Bethlehem Abbey, Portglenone, Co. Antrim, led by Scott Peddie and Columba O’Neill, OCSO. On August 23, the Fellowship cosponsored a one-day workshop with the Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland entitled “Meaning with Merton,” at the Avila Carmelite Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin, facilitated by Scott Peddie, coordinator of the Fellowship, and Frankl Institute Director Stephen J. Costello. For further information on the Fellowship and its activities, contact Scott Peddie at [email protected].

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    The Brazilian Sociedade dos Amigos Fraternos de Thomas Merton (Society of Friends of Thomas Merton) is sponsoring a retreat on October 10-12, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro led by Abbot Bernardo Bonowitz, OCSO of the Monastery of Campo do Tenente, PR, Brazil. On January 31, 2015, a pontifical Mass will be celebrated at the Săo Bento Monastery in Săo Paulo, followed by a lecture by Dom Bernardo Bonowitz; the abbey will also host an exhibition on the life and work of Merton. An academic conference on Merton is also being planned for 2015 at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. For further information contact coordinator M. S. Cristóvăo Júnior at [email protected].

    Send all Merton-related news to:

    Pat O'Connell

    Box 3219

    Gannon University, Erie, PA. 16541.

    Email: [email protected]

    The ITMS Newsletter is also available online at:

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