The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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Merton Center Manuscripts:

'Pennington, M. Basil, Dom, O.C.S.O., 1931-2005'

Dom M. Basil Pennington; Dom Basil Pennington; Pennington, Basil; Robert Pennington

Dom M. Basil (Robert) Pennington was a Trappist monk, author, editor, lecturer and abbot. He joined St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts in 1951. In the early 1960's, he studied canon law at Gregorian University in Rome and returned to teach at Spencer. He began correspondence with Merton upon appointment in 1967 to reform the Trappist order's constitution. He was instrumental in launching Cistercian Publications (later Cistercian Studies) in the late 1960's. In the 1970's, he visited the Orthodox monks at Mt. Athos and began writing about Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. During this time, he also became interested in Centering Prayer and became one of its proponents, conducting numerous workshops on the subject. He spent eight years at Our Lady of Joy on Lantao Island near Hong Kong beginning in 1991. He traveled much through Asia and furthered interfaith dialogue with eastern religions. In 1999, he came back to the United States, briefly serving as superior of monasteries in Ava, Missouri, and Conyers, Georgia, before returning to Spencer. In March of 2005, he was in an accident from which he never fully recovered. In June of 2005, he succumbed to complications from the accident. He left behind a large corpus of writings. He wrote some reflections on Merton, including a book about a retreat he made at Merton's hermitage. (Source: "Dom M. Basil (Robert) Pennington, OCSO". Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. website. 2 Feb. 2006. ‹›.)

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