Entering My “Holy Seventies” on the Road Again

1trastevI am once again on the road. I presented a Merton Centenary Pilgrimage in Assisi, Italy with Marianne Hieb, a sister of Mercy, and Helen Owen, a Franciscan, from October 26 – November 4th. I have been residing in Rome since November 4th, visiting well-known and loved places, especially churches, especially Santa Maria di Trestevere which I consider my home church while in Rome.

I depart for Sweden on Monday, November 30th where I’ll reside with monks of the Ecumenical Community of Bjara-Saby forty miles out of Stockholm. I’ll deliver four talks at a Merton Centenary Symposium they are sponsoring December 4 -6. For the rest I’ll be in their unique community of women and men who represent inter-denominational Christian traditions, including Pentecostalism. The Prior is Peter Halldorf who is also editor of their magazine The Pilgrim. I’ll live with the community for seventeen days until December 17th.

On December 18th I’ll arrive in Dubai, UAE as the guest of a friend who works there. I intend to frequent the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding informally and as a pilgrim. I’ll return to Stockholm on December 30th and remain in the city until January 4th, when I’ll return to Italy and Assisi, where I’ve rented an apartment for the month of January to work on a writing project that I’ve tentatively titled Called To Be Merciful: Thomas Merton’s Witness to Compassionate Transparency and Loving Kindness in All Our Relations: Reflections on Courageous Contemplative Living by Jonathan Montaldo.

In February I’ll travel to Milan and reside with Father Mario Zaninelli, a Merton scholar who translates Merton’s work into Italian. We have projects together until April, one of which is my joining Professors Antonio Montanari and Paolo Trianni in presenting at a conference to be held at the Pontifical Atheneum of Saint Anselm in Rome. Dottore Montanari’s talk will be on a theme from Merton’s Contemplation in A World of Action and Dottore Trianni will speak to Merton’s inter-monastic dialogues. My topic is tentatively titled “Always Stretching Forward Toward Christ: the Lived Theology that Grounded Thomas Merton’s Restlessness.”

I’ll return to the States in early April to travel to Louisville, Kentucky where I’ll assist once again in the 2016 Festival of Faiths whose theme this year is Non-violence. I’m scheduled to be in New Jersey June – September. In October I return to Kentucky to present a five-day retreat for the priests of the Owensboro, Kentucky diocese. In late October I’ll return to Assisi with my colleagues to present with them at their annual retreat in Assisi on the theme of a Pilgrimage to Celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. Depending on circumstances, I intend to remain in Italy for a prolonged visit from November, 2016 forward.

I can only be reached by email at <jonathan.montaldo@gmail.com> during this period of travel but I am available for corresponding.

These are my current plans. Inshallah!

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Kathleen Deignan and Jonathan Montaldo Dialogue on Thomas Merton, April 2015

Kathleen DeignanKathleen Deignan and I were filmed in dialogue about Thomas Merton during the Spiritual Directors International Conference in Louisville, Kentucky in April, 2015. The Conference, entitled “Emerging Wisdom,” honored Merton’s centenary in 2015.

View the video here:


The entire interview will be featured in SDI’s newsletter, “Discover,” in August, 2015.

Kathleen Deignan is a sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame and Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY where she founded and directs the Iona Spirituality Institute, the Merton Contemplative Initiative,  and is a founding Convener of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue.   Dr. Deignan holds a Masters Degree in the History of Christian Spirituality and a Doctorate in Historical Theology from Fordham University.  She is the author of ChristSpirit: The Eschatology of Shaker Christianity; When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature; and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours. A board member and past president of the International Thomas Merton Society, she is psalmist and composer in residence for Schola Ministries which has published a dozen collections of sacred songs. (www.ScholaMinistries.org).

For further information contact:

Brittany Waldean
Membership Services Coordinator
Spiritual Directors International
PO Box 3584│Bellevue, WA 98009 USA
Office: 01-425-455-1565 │Fax: 01-425-455-1566

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Reading Merton to Friends at His Hermitage, ITMS Meeting 2015


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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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