Celebrating Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton is arguably one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. He was also our neighbor, having long made his home in the knobs of Kentucky at the Abbey of Gethsemani. 

Born in Prades, France and educated at Columbia University in New York, he moved to Kentucky in 1941 to join the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance and become a Trappist monk. Trappists live an ascetic life given entirely to labor and prayer, and Merton served in this vocation for the rest of his life. His work as a writer bloomed with the 1948 release of his spiritual memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain, which surprised even its publisher with its extreme success. (The pre-publication sales alone were in the tens of thousands). Merton would eventually convince his superiors that writing was his true labor, becoming the author of countless books on the role of contemplative faith, prayer, and art in civic life. He also became a leading international voice in peaceful activism and interfaith dialogue. 

Merton first arrived to the Abbey of Gethsemani on December 10, 1941 and he died on that same day in 1968. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s passing, and on December 9 & 10 Lexington, Kentucky joins the many communities in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America celebrating Merton’s legacy. The Hindman Settlement School is proud to partner with our Lexington friends, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, to honor his lasting memory as a neighbor, mentor, and artist. We hope you can join us!

The Road Ahead of Me: Lexington Celebrates Thomas Merton

A two-day event remembering Merton’s legacy as a Kentucky artist

December 9, 2018
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
533 East Main Street

3:00 pm – A jazz performance by celebrated vibraphonist and close friend to Merton, Dick Sisto

December 10, 2018
The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning
251 West Second Street

5:00 pm – wine reception & gallery
Merton’s Kentucky. Photographs by Bro. Paul Quenon & Harry Hinkle

6:00 pm – program
Readings from Merton by Rebecca Gayle Howell, The Rt. Rev. Brian Cole, Silas House, Daniel Martin Moore, Ouita Michel, and Maurice Manning.

A partnership between The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, and Hindman Settlement School.

Recommended Readings from Merton 

(Links are to our independent bookstore partner, Brier Books. Shipping is commonly 1-5 days. Brier will also be on site selling books at the December 10th event).