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Millennials to take pilgrimage to Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani Abbey

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Religion News Foundation (RNF) is pleased to announce a collaboration with millennials Will Peterson and David Cable, as the two set out on a “Modern Millennial Pilgrimage” from Saturday, March 25, until Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

The journey on foot, involving 75 miles of travel and reflection, will begin at the University of Kentucky Newman Center and culminate at the Gethsemani of Our Lady Abbey, made famous by the late Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who died in 1968, and who serves as the inspiration for this pilgrimage.  Each evening Peterson and Cable will stay with a host family.

A full itinerary of the pilgrimage can be found here. The pilgrims will also publish a travelog on the Religion News Service website

Peterson and Cable, recent graduates of the University of Notre Dame and its ACE Teaching Fellowship Program, are committed to exploring how the themes of hospitality and pilgrimage remain salient today, especially among millennials. They are inspired by Merton’s own example of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. Merton, a renowned spiritual writer, theologian and mystic, wrote some 70 books, including his autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain, published in 1948, which became a bestseller.

RNF is providing support in the form of a web platform and social media, which will enable the pair to publish multimedia updates about their journey. Additionally, RNF has conducted interviews with leading experts in the field and created a resource tab for those seeking to learn more about themes of pilgrimage and hospitality.

“In this age of inhospitality, Will Peterson and David Cable and their host families are modeling important values of kindness, welcome and hospitality,” said Thomas Gallagher, RNF’s CEO.  “Who better than Thomas Merton to model life-giving dialogue with those of one’s own faith tradition, and importantly, with those of other faith traditions and none at all,” said Gallagher.

Peterson, currently the peace and justice intern at Holy Spirit Parish in Lexington, Kentucky, has spent months preparing the trip. “David and I are eager to engage with the great spiritual practice of pilgrimage and developing relationships with the wonderful people who form the hospitality network along the way,” Peterson said.

David Cable, an Eagle Scout, currently serves as a teacher at a St. Anthony Catholic School, a University of Notre Dame ACE Academy, located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Combining attention to the ancient practices of pilgrimage and hospitality, this is a wonderful and timely project,” said Christine Pohl, associate provost for faculty development and a professor of church in society at Wilmore, Kentucky-based Asbury Theological Seminary, and a leading expert on Christian hospitality.

Pohl’s colleague at Asbury, James R. Thobaben, dean of the school of theology and formation and a professor of bioethics and social ethics, agrees. “I am convinced that bodily engagement in spiritual disciplines (pilgrimage, fasting, kneeling in prayer, and so on) is — or, at least, can be — a facilitator of our receptivity to grace,” said Thobaben.

To sponsor Will and David on their pilgrimage and advance the mission of Religion News Foundation, click here and donate!

RNF advances religious literacy through websites, resources, networks, training workshops, events and other programs.

Follow Will and David throughout the pilgrimage at this link here.

RNF hopes to develop the Modern Millennial Pilgrimage Project™ and collaborate with those of different faith traditions who undertake pilgrimages around the globe.


About Religion News Foundation
Religion News Foundation (RNF), the parent of Religion News Service, is an independent, nonprofit educational and charitable foundation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, which advances religious literacy through its websites, resources, networks, training seminars and events and other programs tailor-made for media professionals, corporate clients and the general public. RNF facilitates and encourages discourse about religion in a neutral and informative way without endorsing or promoting any particular belief system or point of view.

About Religion News Service
Religion News Service (RNS) is an independent, nonprofit and award-winning source of global news on religion, spirituality, culture and ethics, reported by a staff of professional journalists. Founded in 1934, RNS seeks to inform readers with objective reporting and insightful commentary, and is relied upon by secular and faith-based news organizations in a number of countries. RNS is affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.

About Religion News Association
Religion News Association (RNA) is the premier journalism association for people who write about religion in the news media. RNA offers training and tools to help journalists cover religion with balance, accuracy and insight.

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