Merton Centennial Set For June 19-22 At St. Bonaventure

ST. BONAVENTURE – The life of beloved Catholic contemplative, poet and Trappist monk Thomas Merton will be the focus of the summer conference “Coming home and going forth: Merton as mirror and model.”

The event at St. Bonaventure University June 19-22 will celebrate the relationship between Bonaventure and Merton in anticipation of Merton’s 100th birthday in 2015. Speakers include America magazine columnist Fr. Dan Horan, O.F.M. For schedule and registration information, visit www.sbu.edu/merton.

While Merton’s time in Western New York was brief, his experiences at St. Bonaventure, from the time that his friend Robert Lax brought him to Olean to his days in Devereux Hall, were influential in his life’s journey.

Merton’s autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain,” regarded as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the 20th Century,reflects on his time at St. Bonaventure University.

Through keynote speakers, worship experiences and tours, the conference will explore the relationships Merton had with the people and places of St. Bonaventure.

In addition to Horan, renowned Merton scholars on the schedule include William H. Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies (Nazareth College) Christine Bochen and professor of religious studies and vice president for mission and Catholic identity at Sacred Heart University Michael Higgins.

St. Bonaventure University President Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., S.T.D., said the conference will appeal to both those who have studied the life and perspectives of Merton and those on a spiritual journey of any kind.

“Merton’s time at Bonaventure can be both a mirror and a model for those of us who strive to find a spiritual home in our own lives,” she said.

Conference coordinator Julianne Wallace says the conference theme harkens to Merton’s calling to religious life.

“Merton’s spiritual home was the Abbey of Gethsemani, the bells of which called him to pursue monastic life. We echo that call with this conference invitation to gather current and future Merton enthusiasts to continue to learn from and build upon the tremendous spiritual and intellectual gifts he gave the world,” said Wallace, who is the director of faith formation, worship and ministry at St. Bonaventure.

Visit www.sbu.edu/merton for the schedule of events speaker biographies, and conference registration information. Follow the conference preparations and latest news on Twitter using #MertonMirrorandModel.