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Merton's Correspondence with:

John Paul Merton

Merton, John Paul, 1918-1943  printer


Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1941-2001
Volume: 15 item(s); 116 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This file contains John Paul Merton's baptismal certificate (photocopy), last will and testament (photocopy), and letters to Walter Jenkins (Uncle Walt) and Thomas J. O'Brien. There is also related correspondence to John Paul Merton's life and papers.


John Paul Merton was Thomas Merton's younger, and only, sibling. The boys spent much time apart, Thomas traveling with his father Owen, the painter, in France and England, where he was schooled. John Paul lived with his maternal grandparents, the Jenkins, and went to schools in New York and later military academy, graduating in the last class in 1935 from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania's academy. He attended Cornell and was there first interested in Catholicism, taking up flying with the Catholic chaplain, Fr. Donald Cleary. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1941, intending to get involved in the Second World War and the United States was not yet committed. He went by the nickname "Mert". One of the correspondents in these letters, Thomas O'Brien, gave his flight training. John Paul visited Thomas Merton at Gethsemani during a leave in July of 1942. He expressed interest in becoming baptized Catholic and received expedited instructions from Thomas and Dom James Fox because he had only a week's leave. He was baptized July 26, 1942. In August 1942, John Paul was sent into action in England. While on leave in England, he met Margaret May Evans and married her in February of 1943. On April 16, 1943, he embarked in a Wellington bomber over the English Channel. For unknown reasons, the plane lost altitude and crashed. John Paul's back was broken, but he was taken aboard a dinghy with some survivors. He died the 17th, which was the Saturday of Passion Week. The others were rescued Holy Thursday, and Thomas Merton learned of his brother's death on Easter Tuesday. Thomas Merton responded with the poem, "For My Brother Reported Missing in Action, 1943", which concludes the The Seven Storey Mountain. (Source: The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, pp. 294-295.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

Related Information and Links

See also the "O'Brien, Thomas J. [2]" file.

Other Finding Aids

If the person in correspondence with Merton has full text records in the Merton Center Digital Collections, there will be a numeric link to them below.

Series List

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

Container List

Click icons for links: ✓="Published | Library Record", ✉="Scanned" | 🗷="Scanned, Viewable Only at Merton Center"

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1941/02/01 HLS[x] to O'Brien, Thomas Did you get the money order I sent you a couple of weeks ago? Has Crossley delivered my car to you «detailed view»
2. 1942/07/26 other[x]   Baptismal Certificate [-] St. Catherine's Church, New Haven, Kentucky 40051 [-] The Records of this [John Paul Merton's baptismal certificate] «detailed view»
3. 1942/08/04 other[x]   LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT. I, JOHN PAUL MERTON of 114 Parker Place, Ithaca, New York, [John Paul Merton's last will and testament, leaving Harold Brewster Jenkins, his uncle, as primary beneficiary (see also "Jenkins, Harold Brewster" file)] «detailed view»
4. 1942/12/01 HLS to Jenkins, Walter Your Xmas card came yesterday and your most welcome letter today, and I thank you much for them both [to John Paul Merton's uncle, Walter Jenkins] «detailed view»
5. 1943/03/11 HLS[x] from Hauck, Walter S. Well the Haucks are expanding - Peter Robert arrived on March 7th weighing 7lbs 5┬Żoz. and chafing [Verso: stamped "REPORTED KILLED" with note "Died of injuries" (note dated May 22, 1943; death was April 17) - see Hauck file for original] «detailed view»
6. 1983/08/06 TAL[x]  from Stanley, John / to James Baker I read your book with great interest. I've been studying Merton for decades and the more I study [from John Stanley, who had done extensive research on John Paul Merton and the Merton family genealogy, to James Thomas Baker, author of Thomas Merton, Social Critic] «detailed view»
7. 1983/08/30 (#01) TALS  from Donahue, Felix / to Wayne Jenkins On July 26, 1942, Sergeant John Paul Merton was baptized at St. Catherine's. Could you please give [from Fr. Felix Donahue, O.C.S.O. of Gethsemani Abbey to Fr. Wayne Jenkins, who was pastor of St. Catherine in New Haven, Kentucky, (nearby parish to Gethsemani Abbey) at the time of correspondence] asking about getting a certified copy of John Paul Merton's baptismal record / John Paul's sponsor, Rocco Dawson «detailed view»
8. 1983/08/30 (#02) other   The Records of this Church certify, under date of July 26 1942 to the Baptism of John Paul Merton, [certified copy of John Paul Merton's baptismal record from St. Catherine's Church, New Haven, Kentucky] «detailed view»
9. 1988/06/no other[x]   History Hidden [-] It's still, bright, and silent after the last of the aircraft pass over on their [article "From the Editors" of Cornell Alumni News praising the treasures of the university archives and featuring the papers relating to the death of John Paul Merton and with quotes from John Stanley] «detailed view»
10. 1996/08/14 TLS to Center from Dvorchak, Paul I am researching the life of Thomas J. O'Brien who lived at and eventually became the manager of St. [from Paul Dvorchak, Assistant Director of St. Joseph's House of Hospitality in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who owned letter by Merton and John Paul Merton with Thomas O'Brien] Thomas J. O'Brien - his friendship with John Paul Merton and his correspondence with Merton about entering Gethsemani «detailed view»
11. 2001/06/12 TLS to Center from Rush, Molly Back in February I sent you copies of some letters that appeared to be written by John Paul Merton. [from Molly Rush of the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanian (distinct from the Merton Center in Louisville and this letter is to the Louisville Merton Center)] «detailed view»
12. undated/no/no (#01) HLS[x] to O'Brien, Thomas Did you get my letter of a couple of weeks ago, also the ten bucks I sent you with it? [to Thomas J. O'Brien of Ottawa, Ontario, also of the Canadian Royal Air Force (RAF)] «detailed view»
13. undated/no/no (#02) HLS[x] to O'Brien, Thomas Thanks for your letter. I was, as you can imagine, very pleased to hear that you had found somebody [to Thomas J. O'Brien of Ottawa, Ontario, also of the Canadian Royal Air Force (RAF)] «detailed view»
14. undated/no/no (#03) other[x]   Passenger Ships and Images [some photocopies of research collected by John Paul biographer Bill Meegan] «detailed view»
15. undated/no/no (#04) other[x]   Canda, World War II Records and Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947; 28233: Merton, John Paul- [printed scans of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) war files on John Paul Merton] «detailed view»

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