The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

ITMS 17TH General Meeting


24 - 27, June 2021

Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.




            Seventeenth General Meeting 
International Thomas Merton Society – June 24-27, 2021

Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, Indiana


“Thou inward Stranger / Whom I have never seen”

Thomas Merton, “Stranger” (The Strange Islands, 1957)


   In the 1940s, Thomas Merton began the interior journey in search of God through the contemplative monastic life. In response to a question from a student at St. Mary’s College in 1948, Merton wrote What Is Contemplation? – first published by Saint Mary’s president Sr. Madeleva Wolff, a pioneer in women’s graduate theological education. In monastic life, Merton became a self-designated “stranger” to the values of contemporary society. He later discovered through his revelation in down- town Louisville that, though he should be alienated from oppressive systems, on the human level “There are no strangers!” Merton the mystic transcends the seeming contradiction of retreat from the world and love of humanity. Just as in Louisville he found he could “not be alien” to all the people “shining like the sun,” he wrote that in his hermitage and among the trees, “here I am not alien.” In Merton’s concern for human rights, and as a monk devoted to the charism of hospitality, in what ways did this person of privilege demonstrate how to be an ally, through self-identification with the outsider, to those externally labeled “the alien” and “the stranger”?

   We invite proposals for presentations related to the conference theme on topics such as (but not limited to): contemplation; monastic hospitality; Merton and women/feminine wisdom; the impor- tance of Merton’s thoughts and rhetoric in addressing themes of what it means to be a “stranger” and/or “alien”; Merton and his relationship to Saint Mary’s College; unity amid difference; Merton’s writings on identifying as “stranger” and its relationship to the natural world; themes of estrangement and alienation in Merton’s work; reflections on Merton’s idea of the true self as it pertains to understanding our or his inward stranger; the monk as stranger.


Session formats include:

1. Scholarly Papers designed for presentation in twenty minutes for an audience of academics and non-academics (8-10 double-spaced pages, maximum).

2. Workshops designed for presentation in ninety minutes to involve interactive participation incorporating adult learning strategies and/or small group discussion.

3. Creative/Dramatic Presentations designed for presentation in ninety minutes using music, poetry, dance or other media to provide insight into aspects of Merton’s life or work.

4. Guided Meditation/Prayer Sessions designed for presentation in ninety minutes, particularly those using Merton’s writings as a framework for prayer and meditative reflection.


Proposals of no more than 250 words and a short biographical statement (one to two sentences) should be submitted by May 15, 2020 by e-mail attachment to or by mail to: ITMS 2021, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, Kentucky 40205 USA.


Please visit the conference website:

Click here for a print-friendly call for presentations.


Watch this space for further information - available soon

Conference Highlights Registration Information Conference Timetable Student Scholarships

Plenary Speakers



Presidential Address


Opening Sessions:



Concurrent Session Papers:



Workshops, Guided Prayer & Special Presentations:


Registration Fees:
(including conference registration and meals)

Silverball ITMS Member - $tba

Silverball Non-Member - $tba (Join the ITMS)



Silverball $tba - Single room for three nights - per person

Silverball $tba - Shared/double room for three nights - per person


To Register:

Car Air Airport Transportation Car Rental


ITMS Daggy Scholarships

Daggy Youth/Student Scholarships enable young people (ages 17-29) to participate in an International Thomas Merton Society Conference by covering the costs of registration, meals and accommodation. For further information about Daggy Scholarships and an application form go to the Daggy Scholarship Web Page. (Those under 18 at the time of the conference must be accompanied by a parent or adult chaperone whose registration will not be covered by the scholarship.)



Program Committee

Mark C. Meade, Louisville, KY (Chair)

David G. Golemboski, Sioux Falls, SD

Julianne Wallace, Reading, PA

David Orberson, New Albany, IN

Judith Valente, Normal, IL

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Chicago, IL

Jonathan Montaldo, Mantua, NJ

Christopher Pramuk, Denver, CO

Cassidy Hall, Indianapolis, IN

Site Committee

Arlene Montevecchio

Jessica Coblentz