Mount Aloysius Ecumenical Studies Center Presents Thomas Merton Retreat & Seminar

Posted on: June 16, 2014

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Cresson, Pa.—Mount Aloysius College’s Ecumenical Studies Center presents six days of consideration and exploration into the life and work of one of America’s most well-known Christian, spiritual teachers–Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton.  Presenter for the event will be Dr. Bonnie Bowman Thurston.  The events include two offerings – a three-day retreat (Sunday, July 13th through the 15th), and a three day seminar (July 13th through the 18th) both held on the beautiful Mount Aloysius College campus.

Mount Aloysius College’s Vice President for Mission Integration, Sr. Helen Marie Burns, RSM noted that anyone interested can attend one or both of these events.  “Guided by Dr. Bonnie Thurston, participants will enjoy an in-depth exploration of this remarkable modern mystic,” she said. “The first event – the retreat – will be an excellent opportunity to study his writings on Solitude and Silence in a contemplative environment with others who share a fascination, curiosity and appreciation of the many facets of Thomas Merton.”

The retreat begins with Registration on Sunday, July 13th from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. and will conclude on Tuesday, July 15th.  This will be a quiet retreat emphasizing silence and solitude. Morning and evening talks include: “Merton Invites us into Days of Contemplation”; Merton on Solitude,” Merton on Silence;” and “Creative Consent – Say Yes.”

Amenities include air-conditioned suites with living-room, kitchenette, bath, two bedrooms and the freedom of the 193-acre highland Mount Aloysius College campus.

The three-day Merton Seminar begins on Wednesday, July 16th and concludes on Friday, July 18th.

The Opening Session will be held at 3:00 p.m. with an Introductory Session entitled, “Merton – Life and Letters.”  At 7:00 p.m., the film, “Life of Merton” will be shown.

On Thursday Morning, July 17th the day begins with “Merton: Autobiography” at 9:00 a.m.  At 3:00 p.m. a session on “Merton: Essays & Epistles” will begin.  On Thursday evening a Question and Answer Session will begin at 7:00 p.m.

“The Contemplative Vision of Merton’s Poetry,” is the final session of the weeklong exploration into the life of Thomas Merton.

Both events will include daily breakfast served from 8:00 a.m. until 8:45 a.m.  Lunch will be served at noon and Dinner at 5:30 p.m.  The fee for attending both events is $350.00.  The Retreat and Seminar fees are $200 if attended separately.

Bonnie Bowman Thurston, Ph.D. wrote her doctoral dissertation on Thomas Merton and is particularly interested in his poetry and his inter-religious thought.  She was a founding member of the International Thomas Merton Society and served as its third president.  She has written more than 30 scholarly articles on Merton, given retreats and lectured on Merton widely in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe.  She is the editor of “Thomas Merton and Buddhism” (Fons Vitae Press, 2007), “Hidden in the Same Mystery: Thomas Merton & Loretto” (Fons Vitae, 2010) and “Thomas Merton on Eastern Meditation” (New Directions, 2012).

Her most recent books include, “The Spiritual Landscape of Mark” (Liturgical Press), “For God Alone: A Primer on Prayer” (2009), and “Belonging to Borders” (2011) a collection of Celtic poems.

Bonnie Thurston, a native of southern West Virginia, currently lives quietly near Wheeling, WV having resigned the William F. Orr Professorship in New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2002. She earned the Bachelor of Arts in English (First Honors) from Bethany College, and the Master of Arts and her doctoral degree from the University of Virginia.  Dr. Thurston taught at Bethany College, Wheeling Jesuit University.  She completed post-doctoral work in New Testament Studies at Harvard University, Eberhard Karls University in Tuebingen, Germany and the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem.  She was ordained in 1984 by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.

Anyone wishing to participate, or needing additional information about the Mount Aloysius Ecumenical Studies Seminar on Thomas Merton should contact Sr. Helen Marie Burns at (814)886-6510 or email her at  Registration is available on-line at .

Aerial Photo of the Mount Aloysius Campus