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Screening  |  Thomas Merton the Centennial of his Birth

Part of M&T Second Friday

Friday, January 9, 2015, 7:30–9 pm

Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium  

Born in January 1915, Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, poet, photographer, printmaker, publisher, essayist, theologian, and social activist whose contemplative approach to his life’s work still captures attention and consideration.

In a celebration of 100th anniversary of Merton’s birth, the Burchfield Penney Art Center presents a screening of the PBS film by Morgan Atkinson, Soul Searching: The Journal of Thomas Merton.

Comments and discussion with Christine M. Bochen and Reverend Dan Riley O.F.M. will follow the screening.

Soul Searching: The Journal of Thomas Merton examines the life of a modern American monk who was described as part Augustine, part Emerson, part Gandhi. The writings that flowed from his austere monk’s cell and hermitage, examined spirituality (of the East and West), the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the challenges for the individual in the post-modern world. In short, Merton's life embodied many of the struggles of the 20th and 21st century.

“Soul Searching is a powerful, rich and rewarding meditation on the life of Thomas Merton. It not only provides valuable insights into who Merton was and why he wrote as he did, but invites viewers to look deeply inside themselves as well, using Merton's words and the reflections of both scholars and those who knew him personally." ---

Paul Wilkes
Writer, Director, Co-Producer
of the earlier 1985 PBS documentary
"Merton: A Film Biography"
Morgan Atkinson has worked as a communications professional since 1975. In 1985, he established his own video production company, Duckworks, Inc..

A native of Louisville, KY, Atkinson writes and produces programs that examine issues of community and culture. His most recent project is Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard. Harlan Hubbard was a noted Kentucky artist who with wife Anna lived much as Thoreau did at Walden Pond... only they did it in Kentucky for almost 40 years.

In recent years Atkinson focused on the acclaimed writer and spiritual thinker, Thomas Merton. He also examined the life and times of Merton’s friends John Howard Griffin, author of the groundbreaking Black Like Me. At present Atkinson is beginning another program on Merton, concentrating on the momentous events that occurred in final year of the monk’s life, 1968.

Atkinson’s work has been featured nationwide on PBS, on KET (Kentucky’s PBS affiliate) the George Eastman House and various film festivals. Other award-winning documentaries include Live Music, the story of Louisville musician Tim Krekel; A Way of Life, a reflection on Kentucky’s passion for basketball, Falls City, a wry look at Louisville’s ill-fated Falls Fountain, and Gethsemani, an account of life at the famed Trappist monastery in rural Kentucky.

Christine M. Bochen is Professor of Religious Studies and holds the William H. Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies at Nazareth College. A founding member and past president of the International Thomas Merton Society, she has edited volumes of Merton’s letters and a volume of his journal; co-authored The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia; and co-edited with William H Shannon, Thomas Merton: A Life In Letters.

Reverend Dan Riley, O.F.M. is the President and Founder and Guardian of Mt. Irenaeus, Franciscan Mountain Retreat, loosely associated with St. Bonaventure University. Mt. Irenaeus is a mountain sanctuary a short distance from the St. Bonaventure campus. It serves as a retreat for students, faculty, and all kinds of visitors who wish to participate in "making all things new" in a welcoming and supportive community in the Franciscan tradition. Several years after Merton’s death Reverend Riley organized an annual national gathering to discuss Merton’s writing.

This is a free program.

Part of

  • 3
    Jan 9

    Special Event  |  M&T Second Friday

    Friday, January 9, 2015, 5:30–8 pm

    From openings and happy hours, programs, concerts, screenings or other special events, visitors experience the best of the Burchfield Penney on M&T Second Friday!