Merton ‘Reflection’ draws full house

February 18, 2009 by

Sisters fill the Merton Room at the Motherhouse Tuesday to hear a talk by Sister Margaret Jilka, standing at the white board.

Nearly 20 sisters packed the Merton Room at the Motherhouse Tuesday afternoon to listen to Sister Margaret Jilka discuss the life of the room’s namesake.

Sister Margaret, who is celebrating her 60th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph this year, is an expert on the life of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and prolific writer who died in 1968. She said Tuesday that after suffering a stroke in August 2008, she continued to turn to Merton’s life and writings for inspiration. “He said, ‘As much as I can, I enter into the presence of God (when I pray),'” Sister Margaret said Tuesday. “He has never stopped teaching me.”

She said that like many people, she has been drawn to Merton because “he had problems, lots of problems.”

Sister Eileen Farley, right, listens as Sister Margaret Jilka discusses the life of Thomas Merton.

The French-born Merton came to the United States as a very small child, but had no religious upbringing and a tumultous childhood after his mother died when he was 6. He was an unlikely candidate to become a monk, Sister Margaret said, and had struggles with at least two of the abbots he served with.

But, she said, his 1946 autobiography, “Seven Story Mountain,” made her want to learn more about him. Throughout her life, she said, she has continued to read his works and the writing about him by others.

Noting that Tuesday was her birthday — with the Reflections session followed by cake and coffee in her honor – Sister Margaret told the group, “It is appropriate that I talk about him on my birthday because he has always given me life.”


2 Responses to “Merton ‘Reflection’ draws full house”

  1. Fr. Don Larmore on March 15th, 2009 9:44 am

    Congratulations to all you, Sr. Margaret, and all who proclaim the Good News through honoring their mentors.

  2. Carm Thibault on February 18th, 2009 9:01 pm

    Just glad to see this posted for all . Sure wish I had been there to hear Margaret share about Merton! What a good way to spend a birthday..!

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