20th Festival of Faiths will focus on Thomas Merton

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

The Center for Interfaith Relations 20th annual Festival of Faiths, set for May 12-17, will focus on Thomas Merton and will include programs led by religious leaders from around the world.

This year’s theme “Sacred Journeys and the Legacy of Thomas Merton” honors the Trappist monk who lived and wrote at the Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Ky., a press release from the festival’s organizers said.

The Center for Interfaith Relations presented a program earlier this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Merton’s birth.

The five-day festival will open with the annual Interfaith Prayer Service at 5:30 p.m. on May 12 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St. This service is free and open to the public.

All other festival events will require tickets and will be held at Actors Theatre of Louisville, 316 W. Main St.

Festival events include presentations of poetry, film, theater, photography and music as well as discussions on self discovery and spiritual practices and the sharing of personal “sacred stories,” the press release said.

On Wednesday May 13 from 10 a.m. to noon Dr. Paul Pearson, director of the Merton Center at Bellarmine University, will present “Merton and His Legacy.” During this program, guests will share “seven-minute Merton stories” about how their lives were touched by Merton, the press release said.

Among the guests will be Trappist Brother Paul Quenon, a monk and poet who was mentored by Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani.

Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, will be one of the presenters at “Sacred Journeys: Abrahamic Faiths,” a program set for May 15 at 10 a.m. Other presenters will be Dr. William F. Vendley, Rabbi Rick Jacobs and Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah.

Cardinal Onaiyekan will also be among the presenters for a 2 p.m. presentation of “Sacred World: Secular and Sacred” that same day.

On May 16 at 10 a.m. Rev. Robert S. Harvey, executive minister of strategic pastoral initiatives at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville, will be one of the presenters of the program “Sacred Journeys: Discovering the Self in Sacred Journey with the Other.”

Other events include:

  • May 13 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Teddy Abrams, music director of the Louisville Orchestra will present “Art and the Sacred: Sacred Journeys Through Music.”
  • May 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Mary Minifie, classical realist painter, will present “Sacred Practice: The Jesus Prayer.”
  • May 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Gerardo Abboud, a Buddhist practitioner and president of the Dongyuling Center in Argentina, will present “Sacred Practice: Buddhist Meditation.”

    The cost of tickets for individual programs is $25. Passes for the entire festival are available for $247.50. Tickets and passes may be purchased at Actors Theatre of Louisville’s box office at 584-1205 or at the festival’s website.
    For a full list of programs visit www.festivaloffaiths.org.

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