Mercy Center






Fr. Thomas Hand, S.J. ("Hando") founded the East-West Meditation Program at Mercy Center in 1985, after having lived nearly 30 years in Japan. During his time in Japan, Fr. Hand taught haiku poetry, and studied Zen meditation with Yamada Koun Rosh, who encouraged Western students to learn Zen as a way of deepening their Judeo-Christian faith. Hando's groundbreaking work laid a strong foundation for the continuity of the Program.

After Hando's retirement, Fr. Greg Mayers, C.Ss.R, a Redemptorist priest, award-winning author, retreat leader and Zen teacher, was invited to direct the East-West program. From 2005 to 2019, under his leadership, hundreds of retreat participants and zen students came to a deeper experience of reality.

Today, the East-West Program is blessed with a diverse group of experienced leaders and teachers. Wednesday meditation is led by Sr. Judy Cannon and Center Day by Margaret Gainer. Retreat teachers Nona Strong, The Rev. Alice Cabotaje and Tony Tackitt have received transmission as Authentic Zen teachers in the Empty Cloud lineage of Br. Willigis Jäger, OSB, Roshi.

The East-West program honors all faith traditions, and encourages meditative practices that lead to a deeper experience of Reality.





At the June 2019 Zen sesshin, Fr. Greg announced that three of his senior Zen students have received transmission as Authentic Zen masters:


Nona Strong, Tony Tackitt, and The Rev. Alice Cabotaje.


All three have undergone decades of Zen practice and study, and have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to the East-West program.


Summer Silent Retreat led by Nona Strong August 4-9

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Fall Zen Sesshin led by Tony Tackitt November 10-15

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Year-End Retreat led by The Rev. Alice Cabotaje Dec. 27-Jan 1

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These silent retreats and sesshins are scheduled to take place in 2020. Further details will be posted soon.


Meditation Retreat April 5-10


Spring Zen Sesshin June 7-12


Meditation Retreat August 16-21


Fall Zen Sesshin November 8-13


Year-End Retreat Dec 27-Jan 1, 2021





Wednesday evenings, 7:00–9:00 pm, sitting meditation group meets in the Rose Room. New visitors and experienced meditators are welcome to explore the spiritual path in silent meditation. Gather for potluck community dinner at 6:00 pm in the Birch Room. Meditation is led by Sr. Judy Cannon, with the assistance of community members. Judy has been studying and practicing meditation since 2000. She has made silent retreats at Mercy Center Burlingame with Fr. Thomas Hand and Fr. Greg Mayers, and also at The Insight Retreat Center and at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. 


Center Day takes place on the first Sundays of the month, and is led by Margaret Gainer. Margaret began Buddhist meditation practice in 1995, and teaches at several Bay Area meditation groups and churches. Margaret completed Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy Training, and since 2005 has taught weekly meditation classes in a county jail.  She also serves as a chaplain volunteer with Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy. Margaret attends a UCC church and brings Buddhist teachings and understanding into the life of the congregation.





No Center Day meeting in December. Center Day meets Sunday, October 6 and November 3.

On October 30, there will be a Day of the Dead memorial at Wednesday evening meditation.

No Wednesday evening meditation on November 13 and December 25 during the retreats.

To receive East-West program email updates, contact us.



Haiku Poetry Group



The Four Seasons Haiku Kai meets quarterly at Mercy Center Burlingame to share and learn about haiku. All who are interested in this fun and meditative approach to writing haiku are welcome.

No pre-registration required! Just stop by at the front desk and you'll be directed to the meeting room.

Next meeting: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm.

learn more about haiku group




The East-West program has recorded and archived many retreat talks given by Fr. Thomas Hand and Fr. Greg Mayers. We have begun adding new talks by our current retreat teachers and meditation leaders. Visit this page during Summer and Fall 2019 to listen to new recorded talks.

Mercy Center audios, videos, photos and PDFs are all copyrighted materials and may not be reposted or redistributed without prior permission.

Contact with requests to repost Mercy Center media.


East-West Meditation Talks

New! Voices of East-West Meditation


talks from 2019 sesshins / retreats / meditation / Center Day


Fr. Greg Mayers



short videos sesshin and retreat audio  | read/listen to what is kensho?




hando letters  | audio library | videos | read crossing over together





This summer, Fr. Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R, former director of the Mercy Center East-West Meditation program, relocated to a Redemptorist residence near St. Louis, Missouri.


When Fr. Greg came to Mercy Center in 2005, the program, founded by Fr. Thomas Hand, S.J., had been in existence for more than 20 years. Fr. Greg's willingness to take on the responsibilities of director and resident teacher at that critical time allowed the program to continue and flourish. Under his leadership, the program accomplished transformative work in the lives of retreat participants, Center Day attendees, Wednesday evening meditators, and the staff and Sisters at Mercy Center. Those who have attended his retreats and shared community supper with him know his honesty and self-deprecating humor, boundless intellectual curiosity, and personal faith.


The Great Heart Sutra recited at Zen meditation speaks of "no attainment", a concept not easily grasped by the discursive mind. In our friend and teacher Fr. Greg's life, the outward attainments—professional degrees, academic posts, responsible appointments in the Redemptorist order, an award-winning book—were accompanied by the inner work of spiritual direction, Progoff Intensive Journaling, leading contemplative retreats, and Zen meditation practice and study.

Father Greg Mayers

In the midst of a busy working life, Fr. Greg began Zen studies with Willigis Jäger, O.S.B., who made Fr. Greg a Zen Teacher in 1991. In 1997, he was made an Assistant Zen Teacher by Roshi Akira Kubota, and in 2008 a Zen teacher in the Sanbô Kyôdan Zen tradition by Ryôun Yamada Roshi. In 2010, he was made a Zen Master in the Empty Cloud Zen lineage by Willigis Jäger, and in 2011 he was made an Associate Zen Master in the Sanbô Kyôdan Zen Tradition by Ryôun Yamada Roshi.


People of all faith traditions who seek to deepen their experience of God through the practice of Zen meditation have found a place of welcome at Mercy Center, in no small part because of Fr. Greg's personal commitment.


We bow to express profound gratitude for his presence at the center of our community.

listen to Fr. Greg Mayers talks | watch Fr. Greg Mayers videos