Thomas Merton Society of Canada



Friday, May 26, 2023 at 7:00 pm PT
Spirituality and Community in a Time of Loss
St. Andrew's United Church, 1044 St. George's Ave North Vancouver
Admission by donation

Doug Christie will examine the place of darkness in our lives and ask what it can mean for us to enter and inhabit this vast space of unknowing and discover there not simply bewilderment but something Thomas Merton called "the hidden ground of love."

Saturday, May 27, 2023 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm PT
The Desert Within
St. Andrew's United Church, 1044 St. George's Ave North Vancouver

To register: contact Susan Cowan at or 604-988-8835

What does it mean to enter the desert? To seek "the desert within", that vast open space the Christian mystics experienced at the very ground of the soul where the human person encounters the divine? This retreat will draw upon the image of the desert (long important to both Jewish and Christian religious identities and central to the Christian mystical tradition) to consider what it might mean for us to incorporate silence, stillness, and solitude into our own spiritual practices. And to ask how such practices can help us recover a sense of hope and meaning in a world that too often feels devoid of both.

Douglas E. Christie, Ph.D., is Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. A long-time Merton scholar, Doug's most recent book, The Insurmountable Darkness of Love: Mysticism, Loss and the Common Life (Oxford) was published in 2022. Doug is founding editor of the journal Spiritus.

Doug Christie poster

One-Day Online Retreat with The Contemplative Society
Exploring the Mysticism of Thomas Merton with James Finley
Sunday, April 30, 2023
10:00 am to 2:30 pm PST

James Finley, Ph.D. -- a contemplative practitioner, studen of Thomas Merton and clinical psychologist -- will look to the mystics to speak to our spiritual lives and provide wisdom in managing the challenges of being fully human bearers of the divine spark within. He will explore the mysticism of Thomas Merton and how it is relevant to our humanity.
This event is being offered free of cost for members of The Contemplative Society. If you are not a member of The Contemplative Society, you can become a member by making a donation of any amount as part of your event registration.

To register:

2022 Annual General Meeting
Friday, November 18 at 7:30pm (PST)
over Zoom

The Thomas Merton Society of Canada's Annual General Meeting took place on Friday, November 18 at 7:30 pm (PST) via Zoom. The AGM is an opportunity for the TMSC Board of Directors to share with members and friends of the Society the news, challenges, and successes of the past year. It is also a time for you to have input into the planning for future activities of the TMSC.

Reception, Gary Hall lecture & course, July 7-9 2022

The cost to audit the course was $300.

Merton & Jazz event poster, April 10

Centre for Christian Engagement Fall Lecture Series
October 1, 2021 at 7:00pm PST
St. Mark's College at UBC

In this free talk After Kamloops, The Flood, Dr. Michael W. Higgins will consider various questions that arise as Canada and the Catholic Church face a crisis of conscience over the history of reisdential schools and their corrosive legacy. One of them concerns the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and its contribution in a time of painful reflection and oral reparation. Two prophetic figures who represent the best of the CIT can help us navigate this tremulous time of soul-searching: Thomas Merton and John Moriarty.

Dr. Michael W. Higgins, President and Vice Chancellor, Corpus Christi College & St. Mark's College at the University of British Columbia, is the author of numerous books and has been an influential commentator on the Roman Catholic Church on television and in newspapers for decades. He will address the painful history of Canada's residential schools and the recent revelations that began with the discovery in Kamloops of the unmarked graves of many children.

Event May 8

Watch the talk here.

Event May 11

2014 Merton Course & Lecture

Course: Wisdom–Sophia in the Life and Theology of Thomas Merton
July 10–12, 2014

Location: St. Andrew’s Hall Chapel, 6040 Iona Drive on the UBC Campus.
Visit for more information and registration

Free Public Lecture: Thomas Merton: Breakthrough to Wisdom and Peace
July 10, 2014 • 7 pm

Location: St. Andrew’s Hall Chapel, 6040 Iona Drive on the UBC Campus.
Please join us for a wine and cheese reception at 6 pm, immediately preceding the lecture.

Both the Merton course and lecture are led by Christopher Pramuk. He is Associate Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, and author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton (2009), recipient of the International Thomas Merton Society’s 2011 Thomas Merton Award. His recent work, Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line (2013), focuses on racial justice and interracial solidarity in society and church.

Download the poster here


JUNE 11 - JUNE 21, 2014

Click here to view our brochure for more information



Thomas Merton Society of Canada events, please contact Judith Hardcastle, Program Director or Susan Cowan, Community Relations Director.

For more information:
604-988-8835 or email

2012/2013 Membership Brochure available here. JOIN TODAY!


Consonantia is the name of several weekend gatherings that encourage participants to develop practices that support their inward and outward spiritual journeys of contemplation and action. You can come to any component of Consonantia—the Friday evening talk; the Saturday morning and afternoon workshops; the community lunch; or the ecumenical contemplative Eucharist that ends the day. The gatherings are offered in collaboration with St. Andrew’s United Church. Cost is by donation. Please register for Saturday events through the TMSC in order to facilitate hospitality and workshop planning. Contact Susan Cowan, TMSC Community Relations Director at or 604-988-8835

Click here for the May Consonantia poster

THE Holy in the Ordinary: Celtic Christian Spirituality
Friday, May 9 / 7 – 9 pm
St. Andrew’s United Church (St. George’s Avenue and 10th Street) in North Vancouver

The early church in northwestern Europe (5th to 10th century) was strongly shaped by the culture of the pre-Christian Celtic peoples. This culture was marked by intricate artistic expression, faith expressed in communal responsibility, rich prayer built on ordinary daily routine, imaginative hero stories, and a profound sense of the holiness of nature. These themes resonate with the spiritual hungers of our own day, and we will explore them in this presentation

Lynne McNaughton is Anglican parish priest at St. Clement’s, North Vancouver. She has a doctorate of ministry in Spiritual Leadership from Columbia School of Theology, and taught Christian Spirituality for 13 years at VST. Since 1997 she has led pilgrimages to the Celtic lands--Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany-- with her company, Peregrinatio (  She has also taught Celtic Spirituality with Cree, Oji-Cree, and Blackfoot Elders across Canada who are working to reclaim their own indigenous culture.

Contemplative Photography
Saturday, May 10, 10:15 – 11:45 am; 1:15 - 2:45 pm (repeated in the afternoon)
Location: St. Andrew’s United Church, North Vancouver

Thomas Merton transformed his camera into an instrument for contemplation and, in doing so, he himself became an instrument through which the mysterious could be contemplated and expressed.

This workshop will explore how the visual art of photography lends itself to the practice of contemplation and mindfulness. We will reflect on Merton’s photography as well as the attitudes of receptivity, curiosity and wonder that characterize the contemplative approach to life, in order to broaden our understanding of how contemplative photography can facilitate a deeper sense of connection to the divine.

Joanne Duma, Ed.D., is a registered psychologist who maintains a private practice in Vancouver. She brings her interest in psychology to the photographic experience through workshops and presentations that aim to broaden our awareness of the interchange between the inner and outer worlds.

Centering Prayer and other Musings
Saturday, May 10, 10:15 – 11:45 am; 1:15 - 2:45 pm (repeated in the afternoon)
Location: St. Andrew’s United Church, North Vancouver

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”   Rumi

Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount : “ … when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Fr. Thomas Keating has jokingly mused that our practice of Centering Prayer is our ‘hot date with God' as a way to encourage its relational aspect, and in response to people asking how to make a commitment to their practice. So whether you are a seasoned meditator, an occasional one, or just wanting to try it out, join us to explore this relationship and to show up for your 'hot date with God.’  It will be a relaxing, come-as-you-are day. Just bring yourself  and your questions, and we will hold a sacred circle that supports you.

Kathleen Symons is a certified instructor of Centering Prayer and has been a practitioner for over 20 years. She is the facilitator of the Contemplative Prayer / Meditation group at Christ Church Cathedral and has studied with both Fr. Thomas Keating and the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault. She has a BFA from Emily Carr University, was an Iconographer for over 10 years, and is on the slow train to her Master's in Theological studies. She is also presently enrolled in the three- year Integrative Energy Healing program at Langara College and loving it.





Summer School Week Two: July 8-12

Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Architects of Spiritual Wisdom with Dr. Michael Higgins
9:00am – 12:00pm the Epiphany Chapel at the Vancouver School of Theology
Merton and Nouwen are ideal models for post-conciliar spirituality. Although Merton—monk, poet, essayist, and diarist par excellence—anticipated the Council (1962-1965), his work on returning to the sources (monastic and biblical) as well as his exploration of ecumenical and interfaith points of convergence established him as a figure easily validated by the Council and its insights. Nouwen—psychologist, professor and spiritual writer—was very much a product of the Council, shaped by its teaching and custom-changing dynamic. We will explore some of the commonalities to be found in their work as spiritual diarists, honest chroniclers of the soul’s progress, pioneers of the heart’s horizons.

Michael Higgins Michael Higgins is past President of two Canadian Catholic universities and currently Vice-President of Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. He is the author and co-author of over a dozen books including two bestsellers—Power and Power: the Catholic Church at the Crossroads and Stalking the Holy: In Pursuit of Saint-Making—and two award winners—Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton and Suffer the Children Unto Me: An Open Inquiry into the Clerical Sex Abuse Scandal. His most recent work is Genius Born of Anguish: the life and legacy of Henri Nouwen.

For Degree Credit Please Contact the Registrar at
Course / Event: SP5/718 – Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Architects of Spiritual Wisdom
Cost: Audit $240 Certificate: $315





MArch program events 2013

Thomas Merton and the Unspeakable in 2013
Public Talk by Jim Douglass – Thur. March 7 @ 7:00 pm
March 7th event has unfortunately been cancelled
Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre, Room 1520 – 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
As a Trappist monk in the hills of Kentucky, Thomas Merton saw and spoke out against the Unspeakable evil of nuclear weapons, the Vietnam War, and a national security state that cut down the most hopeful leaders of the sixties. Douglass meditates on the interweaving of his friend Thomas Merton's journey with those of the Kennedys, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. Is Merton's death in Bangkok, six months after RFK's in Los Angeles, another example of the Unspeakable? Admission is by donation at the door. Co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and The Institute for the Humanities at SFU Harbour Centre.

JFK, Gandhi, and the Unspeakable in 2013
Public Talk by Jim Douglass – Fri. March 8 @ 7:00 pm
Canadian Memorial United Church, West 15th Avenue and Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC
Had John F. Kennedy not been willing to risk his life by turning toward peace with his enemies, reinforced by his disarmament initiatives, the world today would be a nuclear wasteland. Guided by Merton's questions and Gandhi's methods, what experiments into the Unspeakable truth of Kennedy's story (and our own) will lead us toward a new world today? Admission is by donation at the door. Co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and Canadian Memorial United Church & Centre for Peace.

Martyrs to the Unspeakable: JFK, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK
Workshop led by Jim Douglass – Sat. March 9, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace, 1825 West 16th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

President Kennedy's remarkable turn toward peace with his enemy, Nikita Khrushchev, saved the world from becoming a nuclear wasteland. JFK's assassination, followed by the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, also killed the hope of the Sixties. The death of hope receded into a denial of systemic evil that Thomas Merton identified as "the Unspeakable." Can hope come from confronting the Unspeakable? Jim Douglass believes it can. A paradoxical hope can be discovered by walking with Merton into the stories of JFK, Martin, Malcolm, and RFK -- and perhaps in the collective story of us all. Join us in exploring that hope, as we prepare for the JFK jubilee year months ahead of us...a time of critical decisions for the future of humanity and Mother Earth.The cost is $50 for TMSC members and $55 for non-members (includes lunch and refreshments). Please register by contacting Susan Cowan, Community Relations Director, at or 604-988-8835. Co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and Canadian Memorial United Church & Centre for Peace.

NOAH’S ARK reading by Theater and TV Pros
Followed by a Q&A Session with Jim Douglass - Sat. March 9, @ 7:00 pm
Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace, 1825 West 16th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

Noah’s Ark, a riveting play that grapples with material declassified decades after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, will be read at 7 pm on Saturday night at Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace. The play’s title is taken from secret correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev in which Khrushchev compared the earth to the Biblical Noah’s Ark, a sacred refuge for a people threatened with extinction. Do the two world leaders dare to align with each other against entrenched opposition in their own countries? Written by Ginny Cunningham, Noah’s Ark is inspired by James’ Douglass book “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he Died and Why it Matters”.

Jim Douglass is a Canadian-American theologian from Hedley, British Columbia, who has served time in U.S. prisons for resistance to nuclear weapons, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War. He now lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where he co-founded Mary's House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality with his wife, Shelley. His most recent books are "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters" and "Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment with Truth."

Thomas Merton & Leonard Cohen: Going Home
One-day Retreat with Donald Grayston & Judith Hardcastle, Saturday, November 10, 2012, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
St. Andrew’s United Church, 1044 St. George’s Avenue, North Vancouver

Using the poetry and prose of Thomas Merton and Leonard Cohen, we will explore what ‘going home’ means for us.

Cost is $65 (includes lunch), $60 (TMSC members)
Registration: 604-988-8835 or

Co-sponsored by St. Andrew’s United Church &
Thomas Merton Society of Canada

Please click here to download poster


A new collection of essays by Canadian writers. Edited by Ross Labrie and Angus Stuart

Thursday November 22, 2012 at 7pm
Thomas Merton Reading Room, H. R. MacMillan Library, Vancouver School of Theology 6000 lana Drive, Vancouver

The Thomas Merton Society of Canada has just published a book of essays about this internationally acclaimed writer. The book is distinctive and original in that it represents the work of Canadian scholars, many of whom have significant publishing records of their own. These scholars, who have been publishing books and articles over the years in North America and in the U.K., here offer varied and provocative views of Merton as contemplative, social critic, and poet. Merton is recognized as one of the most important religious thinkers of the last hundred years.

The book, which is entitled Thomas Merton: Monk On the Edge and which runs to approximately 200 pages, is modestly priced at $25.00 (Canadian).

Please click here to download poster

One-day Seminar with Dr. Christine M. Bochen, Saturday, September 22, 2012, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
The University Club of Victoria at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC

Speaking in Asia, just weeks before his death, Thomas Merton said: "We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are." Recognizing that Merton's statement is a key to understanding his contemplative, engaged spirituality, we will explore such questions as these: How do we go about recovering "our original unity"? How are we "to be what we are"? What does Merton mean by "unity"? How might we live in ways that nurture unity in our selves and in our world? The cost is $60 for TMSC members and $65 for non-members (includes lunch and refreshments). Limit: 40 participants. Registration: Susan Cowan, Community Relations Director, or 604-988-8835.

Dr. Christine M. Bochen is professor of Religious Studies at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York where she holds the William H. Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies. She is co-author of the Thomas Merton Encyclopedia; editor of Merton’s Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers, Learning to Love, the sixth volume of Merton’s journals, and Thomas Merton: Essential Writings; and, co-editor of Merton’s Cold War Letters and, most recently, Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters.

Please click here to download poster




Testament of a Naked Man—The Good News According to Mark
A Dramatic Interpretation
Friday, June 17, 2011, 7:00 pm
Canadian Memorial United Church, Corner of West 15th Avenue & Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC

The power of the Gospel story is brought to life in this one-man dramatization of the life and death of Jesus the Christ as told by Mark. The audience is transported back in time to be with Jesus on the dusty road of Palestine and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Listeners will come away with a sense of not having ever heard these familiar stories before. Proceeds from this event will go to support the Thomas Merton Reading Room, located in the H. R. MacMillan Library at Vancouver School of Theology. Tickets: $15 (Adult); $10 (Senior/Student). For more information or to purchase your ticket in advance, please contact Susan Cowan, Community Relations Director at

Angus Stuart, Rector of St. Francis-in-the Wood in West Vancouver, began by telling the story of Christ's arrest, trail and crucifixion from memory on Palm Sunday in 2007. Then he was inspired to memorize the whole of Mark's Gospel. The effect is dramatic!

Masters of the Soul and of the Cosmos: Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Dialogue on Healing the Self / the Earth
July 18 - 22, 2011, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Co-sponsored with the Thomas Merton Society of Canada
Vancouver School of Theology on the campus of the University of British Columbia

Merton and Berry – two of the most remarkable spiritual masters of our time – and all time – come together in an intensive conversation animated by Kathleen Deignan, CND. As prophets and culture critics, both masters announced the perils and crises of our moment. As visionaries and poets, both saw the new frontiers of human spiritual evolution, languaged them into clarity, and charted revelatory maps to guide us forward from our wasteland worlds into regions of greater vitality, depth and solidarity with all life. As midwives of the new creation, both labored in the Great Work of our time: to birth the new human person for the new age.

Kathleen Deignan, CND is Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. The founding director of Iona Spirituality Institute, she is the author of ChristSpirit: The Theology of Shaker Christianity and more recently When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours.

Information/Registration: 604-822-9563 or email or see to register online.

Love for the Paradise Mystery: Thomas Merton, Contemplative Ecologist
Co-sponsored with the Thomas Merton Society of Canada

Free Public lecture - Thursday, July 21, 2011, 7:00 pm,
VST Epiphany Chapel, 6050 Chancellor Boulevard, Vancouver, BC
Pre-lecture reception, 5:30 pm, VST Library, 6000 Iona Drive, Vancouver, BC

"Love for the paradise mystery" is a gossamer thread of mystical insight and prophetic urgency laced through Merton's literary legacy, inscribing deep wisdom for making our way with vision into the ecological age.

3-week pilgrimage program to India & Sri Lanka
Dates: November 2 – November 22, 2011
Participants: 12

This pilgrimage includes excellent accommodation, including the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling where Merton stayed, local guides, and transportation through Thomas Cook, India. The program begins in Delhi and concludes in Sri Lanka with visits to Agra (Taj Mahal), Dharamshala (teachings with H.H. Dalai Lama), Amritsar (The Golden Temple), Bagdogra, Darjeeling (visit to the Mim Tea Estate, travel on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to Sonada Monastery, and unparalleled views of the snow-clad Kanchenjunga, ranges of the Himalayas) in India; Colombo, Habarana (Polonnaruwa), Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Negombo in Sri Lanka. Detailed information, including cost, will be available soon. If you are interested in participating in this exciting pilgrimage, please contact TMSC program director, Judith Hardcastle, at

Click here to view Pilgrimage to Asia brochure.

Thomas Merton & Spiritual Maturity: The Contemplative as Peacemaker
Public Talk by Jonathan Montaldo - Fri. March 4, 2011, 7:00 pm
Thomas Merton had found a mirror for the central thrust of his monastic life in a book by A. Reza Arasteh entitled Final Integration in the Adult Personality, which provided a description of "charismatic spiritual maturity" as a development beyond one's education and birth-culture to a universal consciousness of solidarity with all beings. This theme in Merton's life and writing, that the true contemplative is a peacemaker, is presented as the core of his life as a monk and, even more deeply, as his life's vocation to become a more joyful and courageous human being. The public talk is co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and Canadian Memorial United Church & Centre for Peace. Admission is by donation at the door. Everyone is welcome!

Thomas Merton & Mary Oliver: The Poetry of Contemplative Prayer
One-day Retreat with Jonathan Montaldo - Sat. March 5, 2011, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
This one-day retreat will explore the themes of "waiting in silence", "expectancy" and "being present" in the poetry of Mary Oliver and Thomas Merton. We will ruminate on their poetry as mentoring and inviting us to consider that the glory of God is we human beings fully alive. The cost is $50 for TMSC members and $55 for non-members (lunch included). Limit: 20 participants. Please register by contacting Susan Cowan, Community Relations Director, at 604-669-2546 or The retreat is co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and Canadian Memorial United Church & Centre for Peace.

Jonathan Montaldo has most recently created a ten-booklet series for small group dialogue, Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton. His editions of Merton's work also include The Intimate Merton with Patrick Hart, Dialogues with Silence: Merton's Prayers & Drawings and A Year with Thomas Merton. He is a former director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University and he served a term as president of the International Thomas Merton Society. For more information, please visit his website at