The Thomas Merton Centennial

With great anticipation and delight, I am proud to announce the Thomas Merton Centennial at Bellarmine University – a year-long series of engaging, thought-provoking, wonderfully diverse events that will bring a host of internationally renowned writers, thinkers, and artists to enrich our educational experience and our campus conversations.

Organized by Rev. George A. Kilcourse Jr., our celebration of the 100th anniversary of Merton’s birth in Prades, France, will comprise one of the most significant intellectual happenings in Bellarmine’s history.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a writer, mystic, social activist, artist, photographer, and Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. His writings include such classics as The Seven Storey Mountain, New Seeds of Contemplation, and Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Merton wrote more than seventy books that include poetry, personal journals, collections of letters, social criticism, and writings on peace, justice, and ecumenism.

Besides being one of the most significant interdisciplinary Catholic thinkers of the 20th Century, Merton was both a neighbor and a close friend to Bellarmine, entrusting the bulk of his literary estate to our stewardship at the Thomas Merton Center. His writings on the search for truth, religious inquiry, the nature of humanity, the value of cross-cultural and inter-faith awareness, and his advocacy for peace, social justice and sustainability have urgent contemporary relevance -- and all are at the core of our community values and our Catholic identity at this University.

It is entirely fitting, therefore, that we celebrate the Merton Centennial with a series of symposia, workshops, exhibits, French food and performance arts by welcoming an impressive array of world luminaries to our campus.

On the menu to the left you will find links to an insightful overview by Fr. Kilcourse, the complete schedule of events, and The Merton Center site.

The celebration will span a full year, from November 2014 to November 2015. Each event will be individually publicized in advance.

In the meantime, please join me in thanking Fr. Kilcourse for his excellent, on-going work, and in celebrating the Merton Centennial at Bellarmine University!

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Joseph J. McGowan, President