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Thomas Merton Documentary, with Filmmaker Talk, to Celebrate Centenary

The screening of a documentary about prominent spiritual leader and social justice activist Thomas Merton will bring the filmmaker to Duquesne University on Friday, Nov. 13.

The showing of the 2015 documentary, The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton, will include a talk by filmmaker Morgan Atkinson, starting at 7 p.m. in the Wolf Auditorium of the Bayer Learning Center. A reception will follow.

This film captures Merton's travels across Asia in 1968, the last year of his life, as he meets with the Dalai Lama, other teachers and monks, and explores intersections between his Catholic faith and Eastern religions. This documentary is the third Merton-related film made by Atkinson, whose work has been featured on PBS and in various film festivals.

The free event is open to the public and part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Merton's birth.

"The film itself is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Merton and particularly his final year, and we have the added bonus of the film's producer present to introduce the film and answer questions afterward" said Dr. Maureen O'Brien, chair of the theology department, a sponsor for this event.

Merton, a Catholic Trappist monk, prolific spiritual writer and social justice activist, was extremely influential in the mid-20th century. His work was embraced by Catholics and spiritual seekers from many backgrounds, especially as he turned increasingly to the East in his later work to engage other religions, notably Buddhism, O'Brien explained.

"Merton is important today because his writings continue to speak to people who experience their own lives as spiritual journeys, and who seek to combine contemplative and active dimensions in their search for inner wellbeing as integrated with compassion and justice for others," she said. "In today's growing efforts to find fruitful points of encounter and dialogue among various religious traditions, Merton's openness and bridge-building work stand as a powerful and inspiring example. Students, faculty and staff will all find insight through experiencing the film and talk, regardless of their knowledge of Merton."

Sponsors, besides Duquesne's theology department, include the Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research, the Social Justice Faculty Group, the University Counseling and Wellbeing Center, and Pittsburgh's Thomas Merton Center.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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