St. Bonaventure University to Host Thomas Merton Conference in June

Maria Hayes Around the Province

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — In anticipation of Thomas Merton’s 100th birthday in 2015, St. Bonaventure University will host a three-day conference this summer titled “Coming Home and Going Forth: Merton as Mirror and Model.”

The June 19 to 22 event will celebrate the relationship between St. Bonaventure and the beloved Catholic contemplative. While Merton’s time in Western New York was brief, his experiences at the school were influential in his life’s journey.

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

Among the event’s speakers is Daniel Horan, OFM, ‘05, of Boston. Daniel, a member of the International Thomas Merton Society, has presented several papers on various aspects of his research on Merton at the group’s annual conference. He is currently working on a book titled The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Inspiration of His Life, Thought and Writing, and has authored numerous articles about Merton for various publications. He also writes about Merton occasionally on his blog, Dating God.

Renowned Merton scholars Christine Bochen, professor of religious studies at Nazareth College, and Michael Higgins, professor of religious studies and vice president for mission and Catholic identity at Sacred Heart University, will also give presentations.

A host of other special guests will be participating, according to a university press release.

“Merton’s spiritual home was the Abbey of Gethsemani, the bells of which called him to pursue monastic life,” said conference coordinator Julianne Wallace, SBU’s associate director of faith formation, worship and ministry. “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.”

University president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, believes the event will appeal to those who have studied Merton’s life and perspectives, as well as 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 lives,” she said.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.