Skip navigation

IONA College Logo | Go to Home Page

Berry Forum Hosts Berry Biography Launch and Accepts Berry Foundation Award

11/18/2019
Br. Kevin Cawley Offers Thanks Br. Kevin Cawley Offers Thanks.
Book cover The new biography of Thomas Berry by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim.

On Saturday, November 9, the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue welcomed members of the public to a special ceremony to celebrate the launch of a new biography of Thomas Berry. November 9 would have been the 102nd birthday of Thomas Berry and thus it was an auspicious day for the warm celebration in Arrigoni Center at Iona. Longtime friends of Fr. Thomas, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, traveled from Yale University to mark the occasion and preside over the public release of the biography they wrote together. Mary Evelyn and John presented in tandem a vibrant summary of the life of Thomas before he was a world figure; reporting many tender anecdotes of his N. Carolina upbringing and early signs of his spiritual journey that proved to be significant to many others later on.

Student poses a question. Student Attendee in Dialogue with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim.

There were additional insights on how Thomas negotiated the intellectual and pastoral challenges of his vocation as a priest of the Passionist Order who were at first confounded by the powerful thinking Thomas brought to the community. His brief sojourn in Asia proved decisive in turning his intellect to the larger world and speculation on the origins and destiny of humankind. Generally, Passionists committed more decisively to the missionary and preaching model of priesthood while Thomas found a home as a deep thinker and writer, and later as “sage” for a host of students at St. John’s University, Fordham and the Riverdale Center. Mary Evelyn and John treated the day as a deep celebration of the life and work of Thomas while recounting the enormous influence of his thinking and writing on the present generation of earth care advocates. So many are in his debt.

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim Address the Gathering.
Students Join for Photograph with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim Students Join for Photograph with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim.
Sr. Kathleen Welcomes All. Sr. Kathleen Welcomes All.

The second half of the afternoon was given over to celebrating the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College. The Forum was honored by the Thomas Berry Foundation for ten years of commitment to the message of Thomas as a geologist and spiritual seeker who carried his message to several generations of like-minded practitioners of sustainable living and teaching. The Four Conveners of the Berry Forum – Kathleen Deignan, Danny Martin, Brian Brown and Kevin Cawley - were presented individual memorial plaques with a generous citation of their Earth Care work. Friends assembled from near and far including a number of Iona students in Kathleen Deignan’s classes. Several UN colleagues made the journey to Iona to help celebrate the Thomas Berry Legacy. Music was provided by Kathleen Deignan and Beth Bradley. A slide deck revue of images of Father Thomas and photos of the natural world accompanied the gathering.

Dr. Danny Martin, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, Br. Kevin Cawley, Dr. Brian Brown Berry Award Recipients with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim.
Dr. Danny Martin, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, Br. Kevin Cawley, Dr. Brian Brown
 
Photo credit: Monica Hoyt