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 canceled

all payments fully refunded

Spring Zen Sesshin June 7-12 led by Nona Strong

learn more/register

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





Mercy Center is temporarily closed to respond to this time of sheltering in place. Even so, we seek to remain in strong community with family, friends, and neighbors.

Although we cannot meet in person for Wednesday evening sitting meditation and Center Day for the time being, we can sit in our homes and join our intentions.

We plan to offer Wednesday evening meditation sessions and a Center Day gathering via Zoom platform.

If you are receiving East-West program update emails, you'll get an invitation with links and instructions on how to join the Zoom meetings.

If you are not receiving East-West update email messages, click the link, below:



During this time that Mercy Center is closed to visitors, may we continue to hold its sacred space in our hearts and in our practice.


Bows to all,


Sr. Judy Cannon and Mary A. DuQuaine, Mercy Center Director



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.







During the temporary closure of Mercy Center, all of our regularly scheduled East-West programs, retreats and meetings are subject to postponement.

Please visit the Mercy Center website homepage regularly for news and updates.

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. Greg Mayers and Fr. Thomas Hand. We have begun adding new talks by our current retreat teachers and meditation leaders.

Visit the East-West Meditation Audio page to download and listen to new and past 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: Looking at the Mind Center Day February 2020 spiritual talk by Margaret Gainer

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