Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Merton Scholars Mark 40 Years Since Monk’s Death

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 23, 2008

One of the most important Catholic writers in the 20th century, Thomas Merton’s insights about life and God attract as much attention after his death as they did when he was alive.

A conference and art exhibit focused on Merton’s works will be presented at Our Lady of Assumption Church, Atlanta, to mark 40 years since his death. The conference is Friday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Nov. 15.

Merton is approachable to modern women and men because he writes as a seeker, said the leader of the Atlanta Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society.

“He didn’t hide his sinfulness, or weakness or cowardness from his readers. Rather he invites all of us to seek God in spite of everything,” said Emile Farge. Farge called himself a “student” of Merton.

The Trappist monk wrote close to 50 books at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky before his accidental death in 1968. He was 53. Merton is among the acclaimed Catholic writers that grabbed the public imagination of the 1950s and 1960s, including Dorothy Day and Flannery O’Connor.

Merton’s life and writings serve as a guide for many Christians and non-Christians in part because he was “ruthlessly honest” about himself as a seeker for God, which is a trait many people are looking for, Farge said.

Speakers will discuss Merton’s thoughts and life. There will be time for silent reflection, prayer, monastic hymns, fellowship and a panel discussion with Merton scholars and friends.

An art exhibit of photographs by Merton will be displayed throughout the conference. Paul Pearson, director and archivist of The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., will discuss the photos.

The requested donation is $40 for the conference and $10 for the Saturday art exhibit and reception.

The conference and exhibit are supported by Our Lady of the Assumption Church, The Atlanta Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society, Spring Hill College, The Aquinas Center at Emory University, The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, Trinity Book & Gift Shop at the Ignatius House, Atlanta, and Holy Spirit Monastery Gifts, Conyers.

Reading Thomas Merton: The Atlanta 40th Anniversary Celebration And Conference

Our Lady of the Assumption Church,
1350 Hearst Drive, NE, Atlanta
Friday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m.
with art exhibit and reception at 7 p.m.

For information or directions contact Mark Dannenfelser (404) 261-7181,