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.





Spring Contemplative Retreat April 5-10 led by Nona Strong

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Spring Zen Sesshin June 7-12 led by Nona Strong

registration opens soon

Meditation Retreat August 16-21 led by the Rev. Alice Cabotaje

registration opens soon

Fall Zen Sesshin November 8-13 led by Tony Tackitt

registration opens soon

Year-End Retreat Dec 27-Jan 1, 2021 led by Nona Strong

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, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, after which we gather for a potluck lunch. Leader is 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 meetings in April and June, during the Spring contemplative retreat and Spring sesshin.

No Wednesday evening meditation meetings during retreats and sesshins, on these dates:

April 8, June 10, June 24, August 19, November 11, and December 30.

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.


NEW: Four talks by The Rev. Alice Cabotaje from the 2019-2020 New Year's retreat.


East-West Meditation Talks

East-West Meditation Spiritual Talks


2019 and 2020 retreats and meetings


Fr. Greg Mayers



short videos sesshin and retreat talks | 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