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 teachers. Wednesday meditation is led by Sr. Judy Cannon and Center Day by Margaret Gainer. Retreat leaders Alice Cabotaje, Nona Strong 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 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

learn more/register

Fall Zen Sesshin led by Tony Tackitt November 10-15

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

registration opens soon




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 Wednesday evening meditation during retreats, on August 7, November 13, and December 25.

No Center Day during the August retreat. The next Center Day will meet on Sunday, September 1.

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





This summer, Fr. Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R, former director of the Mercy Center East-West Meditation program, relocated from Burlingame, California 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




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, just come to the front desk and you'll be directed to the meeting room.

Next meeting: Saturday, August 17, 2019, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. Please check in at the front desk.

learn more about haiku meetings




The East-West program has recorded and archived many retreat talks given by Fr. Thomas Hand and Fr. Greg Mayers. We will soon be adding new talks by our current meditation and retreat leaders. Please visit this page during Summer and Fall 2019 for links to new recorded talks.




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




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