It is very seldom that the welfare of Pennsylvania's prison population is a topic featured on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or any major paper throughout the United States. It was a very pleasant surprise to see the article "Book 'Em Shipments Brighten Inmates' Lives" by Diana Nelson Jones on April 8. What also is fortunate is the timing of the story about "Book 'Em." The project of the Thomas Merton Center collects books and sends them to prisoners who have requested them throughout the commonwealth. It exists with the help of many volunteers in its Garfield location.
This Saturday, the Thomas Merton Center will present its annual Thomas Merton Award (named after the center's namesake, Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, writer and social activist) to Martin Sheen, activist and actor.
Originally scheduled to visit a prisoner on death row during his travels to southwestern Pennsylvania, Mr. Sheen is a practicing Catholic who heeds the call to visit the imprisoned along with his many other actions of concern for his fellow human beings. Each year, the center honors someone who has consistently acted for peace and social justice in one or more of the center's focus areas of peace and non-violence, human rights (including prisoners' rights), economic and environmental justice. Martin Sheen witnesses a persistent commitment to them all.
To find out more about the event, visit www.thomasmertoncenter.org or call 412-361-3022.