ALLEGANY, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University here rededicated its Thomas Merton Center on April 1, several months after the 40th anniversary of the popular Trappist monk’s death.
Mt. Irenaeus’ Robert Struzynski, OFM, who participated in the original dedication 32 years ago while at SBU, was the presenter.
Robert gave a reflection titled “A Self-Reflection by Thomas Merton.” During the rededication, a permanent display dedicated to Merton was also unveiled.
“Thomas Merton was one of the most distinguished spiritual masters of the 20th century,” said F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, vice president of Franciscan mission at SBU, at the rededication. “His writing and the witness of his life captured the imagination of many and, in conjunction with the Catholic activist Dorothy Day and others, he inspired many to work for peace and to become involved in works of justice.”
Merton holds special meaning to SBU. While teaching English from 1940 to 1941 at Bona’s, when it was called St. Bonaventure College, Merton discerned his call to religious life.
SBU Hosts Lecture Series
December 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of Merton’s death, and SBU celebrated his life with a lecture series and special programs this spring.
During the Thomas Merton Lecture Series, Province friars and distinguished Merton scholars led programs and discussions. In February, Daniel Riley, OFM, discussed, “Learning to Love … From Racism to Romance: Finding Our Way From Our Head to Our Heart.”
“Merton moved from his own embrace of Christ to an embrace of all people and engagement of other religious traditions, from some of the very things he began to learn and pray about during his time at St. Bonaventure,” Daniel said.
Last month, a prominent Merton scholar, Patrick O’Connell, a founding member of the International Thomas Merton Society, discussed “Wisdom and Prophecy,” focusing on the creative tension in the monk’s notion of wisdom consciousness.
Dr. Anthony Bannon, director of the George Eastman House of Rochester, also presented in the series last month. Bannon spoke on “Merton and Contemplation through his Photographs,” and was hosted overnight at nearby Mt. Irenaeus, where he discussed “Reflections on Thomas Merton.”
The Merton Center Archives at SBU is one of the most important repositories of Merton’s work in the world. It includes manuscripts, journals, drafts of books, articles and letters, and other special items.
The Merton Center also houses offices for campus ministry, Mt. Irenaeus, a soup kitchen in nearby Olean, the Franciscan Center for Social Concern, and several other programs.
Shown in photo above are Robert and Daniel Hurley, OFM. In the photo behind are, Kevin Kriso, OFM, F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, Russel Murray, OFM, Bob Struzynski, OFM, Sr. Suzanne Kush, Christine Smith, and, at right, Robert Donius, director of SBU’s campus ministry.