January 11, 2006
Staten Island, N.Y.
He’s a scholar, a playwright, a speaker at academic conferences,
and a theology major in his junior year at St. John’s University
Staten Island campus. All of these attributes sum up Michael
Herron-- son of adjunct theology instructor and alumnus Fred
Herron-- whose faith-inspired original script, So Slow the Beat
of My Heart; will be performed by the St. John’s Bread and
Roses Players, on the Staten Island campus
February 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.
“The play maps the life of a fictitious character, Michael
Dalton, a young man in the era before Vatican II, who is committed
to a search for God, love and meaning in his life,” says Herron,
who has created this work as a fundraiser for the Staten Island
Children’s Campaign, which assists underprivileged children. The
Bread and Roses Players take their name and inspiration from the
textile workers of Lawrence, MA, he explains, “who took to the
streets echoing the anthem, ‘hearts starve as well as bodies; give
us bread, but give us roses!’” Inspired by this 1912 campaign, the
Bread and Roses Players attempt to “feed both the bodies and hearts
of the less fortunate,” he adds. The theatrical troupe of alumni
and students-- a subgroup of the Stagers, the Staten Island
campus’s performing arts group-- is donating proceeds from the two
performances to the Children’s Campaign, which will benefit 18 area
The Children’s Campaign is near and dear to Michael Herron’s heart
as he has worked as a dramatics counselor for several summers at
the camp run by the Children’s Aid at Goodhue Center. “Last summer,
members of the Bread and Roses Players volunteered their services
for a week to help 14 campers write a script and perform a play
before 150 of their fellow campers,” Herron says.
Recipient of a GAAP Stipend
That’s not all he did last summer. The recipient of St. John’s Graduate Application
Assistance Program (GAAP) summer stipend, he studied “The
Theology of Thomas Aquinas” under the mentorship of St. John’s
College Associate Dean Nicholas M. Healy, who is also an associate
professor of theology and religious studies. “He’s a very bright
and enthusiastic student” says Dean Healy, “who wrote a solid paper
on the subject.”
Writing papers is bringing the idealistic theology student some
acclaim, as he’s presented a paper he wrote on Catholic theologian
Thomas Merton at several academic conferences. “It’s highly unusual
for an undergraduate to participate in scholars’ conferences,” says
Dean Healy. The paper was also published by the National Catholic
Reporter in its October 28, 2005, educational supplement.
His Father Writes Book on
Michael’s father, Professor Fred W. Herron, is an adjunct
instructor in Theology and Religious Studies on the Staten Island
campus and the author of a recently published book on Thomas Merton
entitled, No Abiding Place: Thomas Merton and the Search for
God (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2005). A
member of the International Thomas Merton Society, he attended
theology conferences in San Diego and Portland with his son, who
obtained grants and scholarships to underwrite the cost. The two
are teaming up for a presentation they’ll give to the Thomas Merton
Society of Great Britain and Ireland at Oakham School in Rutland,
England, in March.
Professor Herron ’92GEd also chairs the Department of Religious
Studies at Fontbonne Hall Academy, a Catholic high school for girls
in Brooklyn. He says he was surprised when his son, Michael, chose
theology as a major at St. John’s. “He came in as a psychology
major, but was inspired by Professor Terrance Klein, one of his
theology professors freshman year. Father Joseph Gibino, another
professor, also encouraged an interest in theology.” As for his
son’s interest in the teachings of Thomas Merton, a 1960’s American
Catholic theologian, he says, “I kept my books on Merton in the
boys’ bedroom. I guess he’s read everything on him.”
He’s looking forward to the upcoming presentation he’ll make
with Michael at the Merton conference in England in March. “We’ll
talk about Merton as a prophet for the 21st century,” he says.
“Michael’s giving an introductory talk on how Merton epitomized
changes in the Church in the 1960’s, and I’m speaking about
Merton’s impact on Millenium Catholics.
Michael, who received Founder’s Week recognition at St. John’s
last year, has two sisters and two brothers, one of whom will be
attending the Staten Island campus as a freshman in the fall.
Professor Herron, the author of numerous books and articles,
also directs the Adult Faith Formation at St. Clare’s Parish on
Staten Island. He received Founder’s
Week Recognition at St. John’s in 2004.
So Slow the Beat of My Heart, will be performed at 300
Howard Avenue on the Staten Island campus. Tickets are available
for $12 in advance ($15 at the door) through the Office of Student
Life, Room B 11, Staten Island Campus Center.