Before Thomas Merton: Gethsemani Abbey, 1848-1948

Born in Georgia, Dunne worked in the publishing industry before entering Gethsemani. Historian Dianne Aprile writes: "He believed in the power of the written word, and sensed the time was right to use it to the monastery's advantage." When Thomas Merton entered in 1941, he assumed his writing days were finished, but Dom Frederic encouraged him to continue. During his years there, Merton published hundred of articles and nearly fifty books (all royalties go to Gethsemani).

One hundred sixty three years after its founding, Gethsemani Abbey holds pride of place as Catholic America's flagship monastery. This makes it easy to overlook the fact that for many of those years, its existence was at best precarious. Its recovery from scandal, and its subsequent revitalization, should offer encouragement to those who ask whether the Church can recover from its present challenges. The Gethsemani story shows that the answer is a resounding "Yes."

2/15/2011 5:00:00 AM
  • Catholic
  • In Ages Past
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  • Pat McNamara
    About Pat McNamara
    Dr. Pat McNamara is a published historian. He blogs about American Catholic History at McNamara's Blog.