In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s Alaska visit, the Archdiocese of Anchorage and the newly-formed Alaska Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society will co-host the Thomas Merton in Alaska Conference at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on September 28-29. The event also recognizes the first anniversary of Archbishop Paul Etienne’s residency in Anchorage.

Festivities open on Friday with an optional field trip to Eagle River, and to the site of the former monastery of the Precious Blood Convent where Merton began his 17-day Alaskan itinerary and gave his initial talks to nuns in September 1968. (The property now belongs to St. John’s Orthodox Cathedral.) Participants will then convene at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on Friday evening and Saturday to hear Merton scholars and others share their insightful perspectives about Fr. Merton’s legacy, with special emphasis on the importance of Merton’s little-known Alaska sojourn. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Merton’s death (December 10, 1968).