Merton photo


American Benedictine Academy
Biennial Convention

Monastic Spirituality:
Expanding Merton's Vision

August 7-10, 2008


Mount Marty College
Yankton, South Dakota

Hosted by
Sacred Heart Monastery

Complete Program Schedule  *  The Presenters


The Presenters and their Presentations

Kramer and Kramer, "Living the Rule: Merton's Response to Benedict's Obedience as the Paradox of Freedom" (rtf; 67kb)

Dewey Weiss Kramer, PhD, professor at Marquette University, Agnes Scott College, and Professor Emerita of German and Humanities at DeKalb College, has taught, lectured, and written on German literature; Benedictine and Cistercian monasticism; medieval women religious, especially Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen; and Thomas Merton. 

Dewey was co-founding editor of The Merton Annual  and is the author both of the history, Open to the Spirit, and of the Oral History of Holy Spirit Abbey, Conyers. She directs weekend and community retreats grounded in Hildegard as guide. Dewey is an Oblate of  Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota.

Dewey Weiss Kramer, PhD
1748 Vickers Circle
Decatur, Georgia 30030

Phone Number: 404-378-4881

Victor A. Kramer, Emeritus Professor of English, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA (1969-1999) served as the Founding and Continuing Editor of The Merton Annual:  Studies in Culture, Spirituality, & Social Concerns (20 volumes, 1988 - 2008).  He has published extensively in the areas of American Studies & Spirituality.  His first Merton book was in the Twayne United States Authors Series (1982 )and revised for Cistercian Publications as Thomas Merton, Monk and Artist(1989).  He and Dewey Weiss Kramer have done two major Cistercian oral history projects (about Merton, and on the founding monks of Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, GA).  

Victor was chosen as the editor of the fourth volume of Thomas Merton’s complete journals, Turning toward the World: The Pivotal Years (1960-1963). Kramer was awarded the International Thomas Merton Society “Louie” Award in 2005 for his scholarly achievement in Merton studies. Victor is gladly married to Dewey Weiss Kramer. They have two children and five grandchildren.  He and Dewey are currently involved in a second major oral history project about the Conyers Cistercian Monastery.  He is writing a book about Walker Percy and was a speaker on Percy and Merton at the ITMS meeting in 2007.  He is an Oblate of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Victor A. Kramer, PhD
1748 Vickers Circle
Decatur, Georgia 30030

Phone Number: 404-378-4881

Beverly Lanzetta PhD, "Mystical Union in the Global Community: Thomas Merton's Radical Interiority" (rtf; 59kb)

Beverly Lanzetta holds a Ph.D. in historical theology and spirituality from Fordham University, with concentrations in medieval mysticism, women's spirituality, and contemporary religious thought. She also received her M.A. in sociology and human rights from the University of Arizona, and has been a Research Scholar with the University of Arizona's Southwest Institute for Research on Women since 1996. She has served on the faculties of Grinnell College, Prescott College, and Villanova University, and brings extensive academic study and contemplative experience of the world's sacred texts and spiritual wisdoms to her work.  

Beverly provides a vehicle for contemporary people to sanctify the spiritual dimensions of their lives and professions. Her most recent publications are: Emerging Heart: Global Spirituality and the Sacred. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007 & Radical Wisdom:A Feminist Mystical Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, Spring 2005.

At home in Santa Fe, Beverly L. Lanzetta is a Research Scholar, Feminist Research Institute and Religion Program, University of New Mexico. In September of 2007, Beverly was invited by Raimon Panikkar to a small gathering of people at his house in Spain to discuss the "emerging image of God".  Each participant presented a paper.

Beverly Lanzetta, PhD
Contemplative Teachings
423 Brunn School Rd
Santa Fe NM 87505

Phone Number: 520-820-1280 cell
Phone Number: 520-989-4774

Kathleen Deignan CND, "The Vision and Challenges of Thomas Merton's Eco-Monasticism" (rtf; 30kb)

Sister Kathleen Deignan holds a master's degree in the history of Christian Spirituality and a doctorate in Historical Theology from Fordham University, New York.  She is Professor of Religious Studies and founder of the Iona Spirituality Institute, which she directs at Iona College, in New Rochelle, NY.  A sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame, she lives her community’s spirit of Magnificat as a composer of sacred and liturgical song.   She is artist in residence at Schola Ministries, a project in service to the liturgical and contemplative arts, which has produced a dozen collections of her original songs, most recently The Gift (2007). Hosted by the Iona Spirituality Institute Dr. Deignan animates a variety of offerings including retreats, courses, workshops, pilgrimages and spiritual accompaniment. Under her direction the Iona Spirituality Institute sponsors a chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, on whose board she serves.

Kathleen is the author of two books on the spiritual legacy of Thomas Merton: When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton's Writings on Nature (Sorin 2003), and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours (Sorin 2007). A paper on Thomas Merton’s challenge for transformative education won an award from the American Academy of Religion. Her engagement with Merton Studies, personally and professionally, has drawn her down paths in Christian and Buddhist spirituality and social and ecological justice concerns, which likewise fascinated Thomas Merton.  With friends she collaborated in the founding of Thomas Merton House of Hospitality in Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

Each year she teaches a semester-long course to undergraduates: The Spiritual Legacy of Thomas Merton.  She is engaged in formal inter-religious dialogue with Buddhists, Jews and Muslims, was a participant in the “Nuns in the West” encounter in May 2003, and is in the first class of GreenFaith Fellows, a training program for religious environmental leaders. 

Kathleen Deignan CND, PhD
Iona College
715 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 01801

Phone Number:  (914) 633-2233

Sidney H. Griffith PhD, "‘Sharing the Experience of the Divine Life’: Thomas Merton's Path to Interreligious Understanding, Encounters, and Dialogues with Muslims" (rtf; kb)

Sidney H. Griffith is a professor of Syriac patristics and Christian Arabic at The Catholic University of America. The former chair of the university’s department of Semitic and Egyptian languages and literatures and the former director of its graduate program in early Christian studies, he serves as secretary of CU’s Institute of Christian Oriental Research. He earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy and sacred theology at Holy Trinity Mission Seminary and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1965.

After earning a master’s degree in library science and a licentiate in theology at CU, he received his Ph.D. in Syriac and medieval Arabic from the university in 1977, the year he joined its faculty. Dr. Griffith has also taught at the Washington Theological Union and been a visiting professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. A former president of the Byzantine Studies Conference and the North American Patristic Society, he has been a fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies and the Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He serves as co-editor of Early Christian Texts in Translation, a monographic series published by Peeters in Leuven, Belgium, as associate editor of the Journal of Early Christian Studies, as consulting editor of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and as a member of the editorial boards of Medieval Encounters: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Culture in Confluence and Dialogue and the Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies. The author of more than sixty scholarly articles and three books in his field, Dr. Griffith is an editor of The Blackwell Dictionary of Early Christianity (1999).

Sidney H. Griffith, S.T.
18 Mullen Library
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C. 20064

Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures
Phone Number: 202-319-5084
Fax Number: 202-319-4735
E-mail: or


Dr. Paul M. Pearson is Director and Archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. He is Resident Secretary of the International Thomas Merton Society and served as its tenth President. Paul is a founding member of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He is an editor of Thomas Merton: Poet, Monk, Prophet, (Three Peaks Press, 1998) Thomas Merton: A Mind Awake in the Dark, (Three Peaks Press, 2002) and a compiler of ‘About Merton’ Secondary Sources 1945 – 2000: A Bibliographic Workbook.

His most recent book, Seeking Paradise: Thomas Merton and the Shakers, was published by Orbis in 2003 and a companion volume, A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence of Thomas Merton with Edward Deming and Faith Andrews, will be published by Broadstone Books in 2008. He is a regular contributor to Merton conferences in Europe and the USA. In 1999 he was awarded a “Louie” by the ITMS for his contribution on an international level to the promotion of Merton’s writings and to the presentation of his ideas.

The traveling exhibit of Merton’s photography which will be displayed in the Art Gallery of Mount Marty College, is titled, “A Hidden Wholeness.” On Friday night of the convention Paul Pearson will give a presentation about the photography.

Dr Paul M. Pearson
Director and Archivist, Thomas Merton Center
Bellarmine University
2001 Newburg Road
Louisville, KY 40205

Phone Number: 502-452-8177

Program and Schedule

Thomas Merton at Wikipedia


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