The life of beloved Catholic contemplative, poet and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, will be the focus of the summer 2014 conference “Coming home and going forth: Merton as mirror and model.”
The three-day event, June 19-22 at St. Bonaventure University, will celebrate the relationship between Bonaventure and Merton in anticipation of Merton’s 100th birthday in 2015.
While Merton’s time in Western New York was brief, his experiences, from the time that his friend Robert Lax brought him to Olean to his days in Bonaventure’s Devereux Hall, were influential in his life’s journey.
Merton’s autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, regarded as one of the 100 best nonfiction 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.
Conference speakers include these renowned Merton scholars:
- Dom John Eudes Bamberger, O.C.S.O., Fourth Abbot of the Abbey of Genesee;
- Christine Bochen, Ph.D., professor of religious studies and the William H. Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies at Nazareth College;
- Fr. Daniel Horan, O.F.M., America magazine columnist, author, St. Bonaventure alumnus, and doctoral student in systematic theology at Boston College ;
- Michael Higgins, Ph.D., professor of religious studies and vice president for mission and Catholic identity at Sacred Heart University.
A host of other special guests will be in attendance.
Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., S.T.D., St. Bonaventure University president, said the conference will appeal both to 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.
Follow the conference preparations and latest news on Twitter using #MertonMirrorandModel.