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Thomas Berry Forum Summer Engagements 2018


Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND, met with Cardinal Turkson in Rome and Patriarch Bartholomew in Athens.

Sponsored by the Thomas Berry Forum, Sr.  Kathleen and Iona alumni Ceire Kelty '18 and Jamal Jackson '16 attended two major conferences on environmental concerns this past summer. The Assisi Conference on Spirituality and Sustainability, which was originally hosted by Fr. Thomas Berry, began meeting again after a hiatus of some years. Co-sponsored by the Thomas Berry Forum, this year the group gathered in Rome prior to travel to Assisi and met with Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican Dicastery for the Integral Development of Peoples. Cardinal Turkson was instrumental in the writing of Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home, the encyclical of Pope Francis on the environment. During the conference, care for the earth and the impact on migration were some of the important topics discussed.  Cardinal Turkson then asked the Assisi participants for help in implementing the action items they had identified and the following week the Vatican gathered a group of scientists for this same purpose at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The gathering included several well-known thought leaders on environmental concerns, including Tony Cortese of Intentional Endowments Network, who offered to assist Iona with the work of sustainability planning. 

The week following this conference Sr. Kathleen accepted an invitation to a meeting in Athens hosted by Patriarch Bartholomew. Bartholomew and the Orthodox Church have been promoting liturgical markers around the celebration of Care of Creation. Additionally, Bartholomew calls Assemblies on threatened waterways around the planet every two years and this year the Attica water basin near Athens was chosen. While at the meeting, Sr. Kathleen noted that we have a mandate as a Catholic college to speak on the Laudato document. Bartholomew and Pope Francis have made it a common cause to awaken their followers to care of Earth, marking each year the Season of Creation from September 1 through October 4. Sr. Kathleen plans to bring Iona students to Assisi next summer as well.

Iona College visitors in Rome at the Vatican with Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promostion of Integral Human Development. From left: Jamal Jackson '16, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Ceire Kealty '18, Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND.

International Symposium Discusses Ecology, Economy, and ethics

Sister Kathleen attended the 9th Ecological Symposium of the Ecumenical Patriarchate held on the island of Spetses. Focusing on the relationship between economy and ecology as well as the environmental crisis and forced migration, the first session featured economist Jeffrey Sachs (Earth Institute), author and activist Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), and Orthodox theologian Metropolitan John of Pergamon, who observed that responding to the ecological crisis and respecting God’s creation would not be the result of reducing selfish consumption, but rather the result of recognizing the world as a gift. During the second session scientist and activist Vandana Shiva, who is now a shelter coordinator assisting unaccompanied refugee children, addressed the attendees. Between the two sessions, the Ecumenical Patriarch released two kestrels, which had been injured and restored to health.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew have made care of Earth a high priority in their efforts to turn the planet away from its current path of damaging consumerism.