Thomas Merton, the celebrated Trappist monk, social activist, artist and poet, died more than 40 years ago, but he is remembered every day at Bellarmine University—from the banners around campus bearing his image (“In the spirit of Thomas Merton”) to the Thomas Merton Center, which houses his artistic estate (1,300 photographs and 900 drawings, many on display). And this week, Merton will be publicly remembered in two more ways: a free lecture on Wednesday evening, October 13, and a one-day conference on Saturday, October 16.
The Wednesday lecture, conducted by author James Forest, is titled “Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day: A Special Friendship.” Forest, a close friend of Merton in the early 1960s, worked closely with controversial journalist Dorothy Day as editor of The Catholic Worker. He has written biographies of both figures. It starts at 7:00 p.m. in Frazier Hall and is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, Merton Center hosts “Letters to a Green Liberal: Thomas Merton’s Call to Ecological Responsibility,” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The one-day conference will feature a roundtable discussion and speakers from a variety of religious and social backgrounds, including Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, director of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network; Iona College professor Dr. Kathleen Deignan, founder of the Iona Spirituality Institute; Dr. Dennis Patrick O’Hara, assistant professor of ethics and ecotheology at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto; and Dr. Monica Weis, a frequent speaker on Thomas Merton and nature. The cost for the conference, which includes lunch, is $40 for students and $50 for others; registration after today October 11 will be $60. To register, visit http://mertoncenter.org/events.htm.
“These two events are wonderful ways to explore the variety and depth of Thomas Merton’s life and thought,” said Dr. Paul Pearson, director and archivist at The Thomas Merton Center. “Many readers are familiar with Merton’s writings surrounding social justice issues such as war and racism, but few will be aware of Merton’s cutting-edge thinking on ecology at the very beginning of the modern ecological movement, or of his close relationship with Dorothy Day.”
Photo: Courtesy PBS