Retreats and programs

zHeart Speaks to Heart: Letter-Writing As Spiritual Practice


An online event featuring Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
a Trappist monk of the famous Abbey of Gethsemani in KY  & Benedictine Oblate Judith Valente

In this program, retreatants participate in a discussion between two friends sorting through their vulnerabilities, bewilderments, and uncertainties in a search for unvarnished truth through the medium of letter writing. Brother Paul speaks from the perspective of a monk steeped in silence and the ancient prayer practices of monastic life. Judith Valente participates in the discussion from the perspective of a married professional woman striving to bring a sense of prayer and contemplation to her busy life in the world.


WHEN: Wednesday January 11, 2023 from
DURATION: 10am until 12-Noon Central
PLATFORM: Online/Zoom

Brother Paul entered the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky in 1958 at the age of 17, where Thomas Merton was his novice master and spiritual director. He sleeps under the stars each night and is an avid hiker and hill climber. Br. Paul is the author of the award-winning book In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir.

Judith Valente is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism and is the recipient of many awards for her coverage of faith and culture for national PBS-TV’s Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. A former staff writer for both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, she has been a contributing correspondent for Chicago Public Radio, and her articles appear in U.S. Catholic and National Catholic Reporter. You can read more about her at her website:

Judy and Br. Paul are friends, and a part of that is being “pen pals,” which is to say how their writing letters to one another is both a part of their friendship and a spiritual activity.

January 11, 2023
Facilitated by: Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO & Judith Valente
10:00 AM Central

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