A Thomas Merton Centenary Pilgrimage Retreat in Assisi, Italy, October 28 – November 4, 2015

Assisi CathedralLourdes Wellness, a division of Lourdes Health System in New Jersey, will sponsor its Sixth Annual Assisi, Italy Event from OCTOBER 28 to NOVEMBER 4, 2015: A PILGRIMAGE RETREAT to honor the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s birth in 2015.

Join Marianne Hieb, RSM and Helen Owens, OSF, along with special guest facilitator, Jonathan Montaldo, for eight days in Assisi, Italy. In community and in solitude we will celebrate Merton’s centenary year by reflecting on the monk and spiritual writer’s deep relationship with Saint Francis of Assisi and Franciscan spirituality.

Assisi fieldsWe will explore the Umbrian countryside in the season leading to the holy feasts of All Saints and All Souls while meditating on “all our relations in Christ.” The retreat’s themes will deepen our appreciation of the holiness of our friendships and those who companion with us as we journey through our every day lives.


Marianne Hieb, a Sister of Mercy with a doctorate in Ministry, is an artist, art therapist, and a retreat and spiritual director. She facilitates Spirituality, Creativity and Wellness programs through Lourdes Wellness Services. She is the author of Inner Journeying through Art-Journaling and creator of the Encirclings Sculpture series.

Helen Owens, a Franciscan sister with a doctorate in Ministry, is a nurse and missionary. She is the former Vice-President of Mission for Lourdes Health System and is the founder of Lourdes Wellness Center. She integrates wholistic spirituality and wellness into her spiritual ministry. She has an Integrative Nurse Coaching practice at Lourdes Wellness Services.

Jonathan Montaldo is a retreat and workshop leader, an editor of Merton’s writings and a former director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. He most recently edited a volume of over a hundred reflections by international contributors that honors Merton’s centenary: We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope.

Registration is limited so act soon! For a complete brochure of the retreat visit www.LourdesWellnessCenter.org or call (856)-869-8190 and ask for Beverly.

Assisi streetYou may join the pilgrimage for the full seven nights or choose to attend an “intensive” of four nights to celebrate the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls Day.





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Jonathan Montaldo to Present Retreat at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, Iowa, April 24-26.

exterior Shalom w logoDubuque, Iowa–March 13, 2015–Internationally recognized writer, editor and retreat presenter Jonathan Montaldo will lead a retreat weekend titled “Choosing to Love the World: A Retreat with the Contemplative Poetry of Mary Oliver and Thomas Merton” beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24 and concluding at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 26 at Shalom Spirituality Center, 1001 Davis Street, Dubuque.

This leisured retreat will ruminate on the spiritual practices of silence and solitude that infuse the poetry of Mary Oliver, a best selling American poet, and the prose-poetry of Thomas Merton (1915–1968), a monk whose teachings on “contemplative living” remain significant for contemporary spiritual practice. The retreat will emphasize themes associated with Mary Oliver’s practice of “loving the world” and with Merton’s teachings on prayer. We will reflect on how we might include the poetry and practices of these two poet-mentors into our own daily contemplative living. The retreat includes Sunday Eucharistic liturgy.

The offering to attend is $90 for commuters and $175 for overnight retreatants. To register, call Shalom at 563/582-3592 by April 20 or visit www.shalomretreats.org.

Note: A $10 early bird discount is available to anyone registering by March 24

Jonathan Montaldo is a former director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, and he served as the associate director of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living. He has edited numerous volumes of Merton’s writing and created the ten-booklet series for small group dialogue Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton. His latest book is an edition of over one hundred reflections of international contributors to celebrate Merton’s 100th birthday year during 2015: We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope published by Fons Vitae Press and now available on Amazon.com.



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Jonathan Montaldo will host a Philadelphia Celebration of Thomas Merton’s Centenary: A Day of Reflection Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and the International Thomas Merton Society

ThomasMertonGriffithSunday, March 22, 2015
10:00 AM – 2:30 PM
Hosted at the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy
515 Montgomery Avenue
Merion, PA 19066

This year will witness international celebrations of the legacy of one of the most influential spiritual writers of our time. Join a Philadelphia celebration of the centenary of Thomas Merton’s birth (January 31, 1915-2015).

Jonathan Montaldo will guide these hours of reflection that will include a presentation of Merton’s teaching on prayer and an exhibition of Merton’s drawings curated by Dr. Marianne Hieb, spiritual and retreat director and a Sister of Mercy.

The event is free and sponsored by a grant from the International Thomas Merton Society.

Part of the celebration will be a movement to found a chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society in Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey.

There is limited seating and thus pre-registration is required. Contact Marianne at mhieb515@comcast.net or call Epiphany House at 856-324-0512. If you are leaving a telephone message, please provide your phone number and email address.

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Jonathan Montaldo Presents Ave Maria Press Webinar in Celebration of Thomas Merton’s Centenary

Jonathan Webinar PhotoThe Ave Maria Press Webinar

featuring Jonathan Montaldo, presented live on

January 27th,

is STILL AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING on You Tube. Visit: https://www.avemariapress.com/webinars/parish/montaldo/

While you can no longer see Montaldo live (Martha Stewart might remark, “And that’s a good thing.”), the Power Point Presentation with Montaldo’s commentary is being received favorably.

Learning Wisdom in the School of Your Own Life: Thomas Merton’s Practice for Contemplative Prayer
Presented by Jonathan Montaldo, creator of the ten-volume series for small group dialogue, Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton
Date: January 27, 2015
Time: 3 p.m.–4 p.m. EST

In anticipation of Thomas Merton’s 100th birthday celebration, author and Merton expert, Jonathan Montaldo, provided parish ministers with a unique perspective on contemplative prayer and demonstrated how we can integrate it into our lives or the lives of the people theyserve.

Thomas Merton taught his novices a way of praying that would allow them to enter the school of wisdom provided by their most personal experiences. He taught a perspective for contemplative prayer through which his students could meditate upon a divine providence at work in all their significant relationships with persons, books, art, and everything they loved.

In this webinar, Montaldo examined three key texts from Merton’s journals that feature the monk’s understanding of the value of his relationships with others as guidance for creating his own destiny to love and seek God. This teaching could instigate a new way of meditation as a practice for parish ministers and those they guide in spiritual formation.


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Joshua Stone & Jonathan Montaldo in Performance to Celebrate Thomas Merton’s Centenary (1915-2015)

Joshua Stone and Jonathan Montaldo will present an evening of music and the words of Thomas Merton at Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT on Thursday, December 11, 2014 and at Kripalu Yoga Center, in Stockbridge, MA on Saturday, December 13, 2014.

For further information on the work and music of Joshua Stone see www.JoshuaStoneMusic.com.

Wisdom House - Into the Mystic - fnl - jpgMerton Announcement & Poster - WH Edit - fnl - jpg

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An Old Dog’s New Stretch: Jonathan Montaldo at Kripalu Yoga Center on December 5-7, 2014


Jonathan Montaldo will offer a retreat/workshop on the contemplative poetry of Mary Oliver and Thomas Merton entitled “Choosing to Love the World” at the Kripalu Yoga Center in western Massachusetts, December 5-7, 2014.

In her poem “Messenger” Mary Oliver confessed “My vocation is to love the world.” Her poetry mentors joy and courage in her reader to savor our porousness to Nature’s matrix of inter-being creativity. Thomas Merton’s equally productive life at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky produced a legacy of journals, poetry and poetic prose on “contemplative living” that mentors our being  “fully awake and alive” in the world.  The spiritual disciplines of silence, deep listening and Henry David Thoreau’s “sauntering” highlight this weekend gathering so as to make us receptive to what Merton called “the speech a day makes.”

This program includes facilitated inter-personal reflection on specific poems as meditations that invite us to enter the wisdom school of our everyday lives. Simple and brief yoga poses by a trained yoga teacher will help us to stretch and be more present to our being together. General familiarity with the lives and work of Mary Oliver and Thomas Merton is encouraged.

Required texts:  Mary Oliver, “New and Selected Poems, Volume One” (Beacon Press) and Thomas Merton, “The Intimate Merton” (Harper Collins).

Recommended texts:  Mary Oliver, “New and Selected Poems, Volume Two” (Beacon Press) and “In The Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton” edited by Lynn R. Szabo with a Preface by Kathleen Norris (New Directions Press).

To prepare for this weekend Jonathan is studying (and recommending for participants’ future reading) other texts that will enhance his leadership during the weekend: Henry Bugbee’s  “The Inward Morning”; Edward F. Mooney’s “Lost Intimacy in American Thought: Recovering Personal Philosophy from Thoreau to Cavell” and “Wilderness and the Heart: Henry Bugbee’s Philosophy of Place, Presence, and Memory”;  Bruce Wilshire’s “Wild Hunger: The Primal Roots of Modern Addiction” and “The Primal Roots of American Philosophy: Pragmatism, Phenomenology, and Native American Thought;” Hwa Yol Jung’s “Prolegomena to a Carnal Hermeneutics;” and “The Quotable Thoreau” edited by Jeffery S. Cramer.

morning pilgrimageIn spite of his preparation so as to be a more responsible facilitator for workshop participants, this won’t be an academic weekend. All participants will co-produce and co-facilitate the inter- and intra-personal re-discovery of our porous mind-body selves, or, in more primal terms, we shall help one another come to, return more happily to, our senses.



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Jonathan Montaldo Participates in “Francis Week” at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York

October 4 is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Bonaventure University in Olean, New York mounts an annual “Francis Week” of speakers and activities of student service to honor the Saint’s anniversary of his death.

Montaldo in OakhamAt 11:30 AM on October 2, 2014 the Thursday Forum will feature speaker Jonathan Montaldo. He will talk with St. Bonaventure faculty and staff about the relationship of St. Francis and Thomas Merton in the University Club. Questions will be taken after the lecture.

Montaldo will then be the featured speaker for this year’s Fr. Jerome Kelly Lecture at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in the Quick Regas Center for the Arts. The title of the lecture is “Learning Wisdom in the School of Your Own Life: Lessons in Praying, Loving & Living from St. Francis and Thomas Merton.” The talk will dive into Francis and Merton’s life events and personal relationships as they may mentor us to “enter the school of our own lives.”

For more information on the “Francis Week” celebrations visit http://www.sbu.edu/about-sbu/news-events/latest-news/news-release/2014/09/18/st.-bonaventure-prepares-to-host-francis-week


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Jonathan Montaldo to Present Retreat with Sisters of Mercy in Sea Isle City, New Jersey

On October 10-12, 2014 I shall present a retreat in collaboration with and sponsored by Sisters of Mercy at their retreat house in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. The retreat is entitled “Entering the School of Your Experience: Thomas Merton’s Legacy for Contemplative Living.”

Here is the link to the Retreat Brochure with  registration information:

Thomas Merton Retreat 10-10 to 10-12-14

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Jonathan Montaldo Interviewed on Franciscan Media

Franciscan MediaCelebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Thomas Merton

Join Franciscan Media and Judy Zarick as we welcome author and speaker Jonathan Montaldo to our studio on Thursday, June 5 at 3:00 p.m. ET. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton. Montaldo will share the plans underway to recognize the unique and significant contributions of Merton to the contemplative tradition and practice. Viewer questions are encouraged via the chat area and will be answered by Jonathan Montaldo as time allows.

This thirty-minute interview is archived on www.FranciscanMedia.org. Go to “Online Events,” then register, and you can view the interview.

For further information on the Meeting and Conference of the International Thomas Merton Society at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Thomas Merton Center, in June, 2015, a celebration of  Merton’s centenary, visit http://merton.org.

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All Saints Day 2012 in Santiago de Compostela

I walked with my friends into Santiago de Compostela, mind clear and heart content, but without elation. I could not conjure any of the two months of walking as I entered the Square in front of the Cathedral of Saint James. Mindful of “all my relations”, I attended the noon Pilgrims’ Mass. The journey ended on Monday, October 29th and I dutifully picked up my “compostella” at the Pilgrims’ Office, the certificate that certifies my pilgrimage to Santiago from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in France.

Jon CathedralI end this cycle of podcasts with a poem, “Ithaca”, by the Greek poet Constantine Cafavy. In Homer’s Odyssey “Ithaca” was the island home to which Odysseus struggled to return, through many adventures, after his participation in the Trojan War. Here is Cavafy’s poem followed by a podcast of my reading it, then adding a “riff” of my own on his last stanza.

Grateful for everything in the past, I wait in hope for what is to come. Even though I left home alone for Santiago seven months ago to travel through Portugal, England, Italy, Switzerland and now Spain, many have departed with me “in the spirit” and have been my companions through my travels.

Our destinies are one. I don’t know how this can be true on a macro-level, how my destiny is one with everyone in the world, but I am certain how it is true that I share the same destiny with the entire network of my intimates–with all my personal relations. I know that I am, through the network of us, participating in creating the world with  and for those I know best.


As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like them on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfumes of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.








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