Not much time has passed since we celebrated the centenary of Thomas Merton’s birth in January 2015.  However, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Merton’s death in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968—27 years to the day from his entry to the Abbey of Gethsemani. 

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As Dr. Paul Pearson, Director and Archivist of  The Thomas Merton Center reflects:

“This anniversary reminds us of Thomas Merton’s remarkable output as an author in a relatively short life, having died at just 53 years of age.  It also reminds us of the immensely rich legacy Merton left behind and of how prescient his message remains.  His writings on so many subjects, including spirituality, the true and false self, racism, war, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, ecology, and interfaith dialogue, are as relevant in our world today as when he wrote them, if not more so.”

For a brief overview...

Aside from the regularly scheduled season events, members may also participate in the Chapter:

Merton Reading Group discussions on three of Merton's most important works. Learn more... 

Audio Recordings of earlier lectures. Learn more...

Upcoming Events:


Saturday, SEPTEMBER 22, 2018, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Reception to follow

MERTON & ME: A Living Trinity

 Doug Lory

Doug Lory

As we reflect on Merton’s life and legacy this season, can we make a commitment to more deeply reflect on our own life, and legacy.  Can we allow Merton to serve as a mirror into our soul? Can we dare to confront our fears and vulnerability and ask God for a more intimate relationship with ourselves, our truest selves.  It is far too easy today to avoid truth, but the greatest and even more dangerous temptation is to avoid our own truth.


Saturday, November 3, 2018, 9:00 A.m. - 4:00 P.M.

Journey to the True Self: Merton & Jung, Annual Retreat: Day of Reflection & Jazz Liturgy

 Brother Don Bisson, FMS

Brother Don Bisson, FMS

Merton and Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, have both influenced our contemporary spiritual language for the inner transformative journey.  The retreat day will offer guidance and reflection on the movement from the false to the True Self. Merton's entire legacy of prayer, meditation, contemplative life and social conscience can be summed up by the awakening of the True self in Christ. In this year of his 50th anniversary of his untimely death, let us gather to continue his passion for integrity for the True Self.

 Deanna Witkowski

Deanna Witkowski

Jazz keyboardist Deanna Witkowski and her jazz trio will provide a creative form of worship that will enhance the Retreat Day experience and our celebration of Merton’s legacy.


Monday, December 10, 2018, 7:00 P.M.

Memorial Solemn Mass & Reception featuring Fr. Dan Horan

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Celebrating 50 years since the untimely death of our beloved Thomas when he was accidently killed in Thailand. A partial reconstruction of the 1968 funeral Mass at the Abbey of Gethsemani is planned including Cistercian chant, some medieval and some newly composed by Fr Chrysogonus Waddell, the organist at the Abbey.


Saturday, April 27, 2019, 2:00 - 4:00 P.M.

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“Merton in Alaska” with Kathleen Tarr

“We Are All Poets Here” speaks to the spiritual confusion of our times about Thomas Merton’s 1968 Journey to Alaska and a shared story about spiritual seeking presented by writer and instructor of creative writing, Kathleen Witkowska Tarr.  Ms. Tarr will describe in intimate details what Merton might have seen, felt, and experienced about wilderness Alaska and the people and dramatic landscapes he encountered a few short months before his tragic death.