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Thomas Berry Forum Events

  • November 4, 2017: Hope and Healing in the Anthropocene


    Hope and the Healing in the Anthropocene: Inspiration, Conversation, Transformation, will take place Saturday, November 4, 2017, at Iona College.

    Hope and Healing in the Anthropocene: Inspiration, Conversation, Transformation

    Saturday, November 4, 2017
    Thomas J. Burke Lounge, Spellman Hall

    Registration and Refreshment: 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.
    Program concludes at 3:30 p.m.
    • Offering: $15 / lunch and refreshments
    • Iona Students and Community gratis

    Register by October 15 to

    In keeping with our Berry Forum practice, this event will be a vegetarian / Zero-Waste Program

    Calling Healers, Nurses, Guides, Therapists, Workers for Well-Being

    The Anthropocene is upon us, the era we humans have made for ourselves and of our planet. A moment of promise, crisis and creativity, our task now is learning to live in this new age of uncertainty and disruption and undertake The Great Work of making a truly flourishing Earth Home for ourselves and all our relations. Thomas Berry exhorts us toward strategies for awakening and resistance, for healing and resilience. In circles of hope we convene to imagine and practice a way forward, toward a new world of welfare and wellbeing for ourselves and all living kind.

    The Thomas Berry Forum at Iona and the Collaborative for Palliative Care at Fordham University invite you to a day of creative and contemplative inquiry with a host of healers, teachers and practitioners who will invite us into informative and transformative dialogue on the challenges of being well and offering wellness – of body, mind, and spirit – to an ecologically, socially and spiritually suffering planet.

    Berry Forum collaborator, Mary Beth Morrissey, Ph.D., MPH, JD, will keynote our gathering to offer her wisdom from the fields of public health and law. Author, researcher, and program director for the Post-Master's Health Care and Management Certificate Program in Public Health, Palliative and Long-Term Care at Fordham University Gabelli Schools of Business, she is founding president of Collaborative for Palliative Care, Inc., and a Fellow of Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center.

    Animating Voices:
    Brian Brown, JD, Ph.D., Berry Forum
    Kevin Cawley, CFC, Ph.D., Berry Forum
    Kathleen Deignan, CND, Ph.D., Berry Forum
    Daniel Martin, Ph.D., Berry Forum
    Karen Killeen, DAc, RN, MS, Holistic Clinician
    Rabbi Larry Troster, Jewish Environmentalism
    Rev. Peggy Clarke, UU Ecological Ministry
    Diane J. Abatemarco, Ph.D., MSW, Pediatric Health 
    Phil Gerrity, MA, MDiv, Spirituality / Global Health
    Vin Maher, JD, Health Care Management Iona
    Jeanne Anselmo, Green Island Sangha, Holistic Nurse
    Orla Cashman, Ph.D.,Clinical Social Work & Therapist 
    Nanako Saka, Ph.D., Fukushima Focus
    Doug Decandia, MA, Sustainable Agriculture

  • Thomas Berry Forum Addresses "Spirituality and Sustainability” Conference


    Sr. Kathleen Deignan and Br. Kevin Cawley joined a "Spirituality and Sustainability" conference.

    By: Br. Kevin Cawley

    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College responded to a special invitation from the sponsors of a conference on “Spirituality and Sustainability” that was held in Rome and Assisi during June/July 2017.* Brother Kevin Cawley, CFC, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum at Iona, and Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND, Ph.D., Berry Forum Co-Convener offered presentations on the deepening legacy of Thomas Berry, who was the geologian around whom the Assisi Conferences gathered during eight years of his life.  To mark the second anniversary of the papal encyclical, “Laudato Si:’ On the Care of Our Common Home,” the sixty conferees attended an audience with Pope Francis, who acknowledged and thanked them for their work to protect our endangered Earth.

    On the first day of the conference in Assisi, The Berry Forum anchored the opening panel in the enduring vision of Saints Francis and Clare, followed by other presentations on Berry’s summons to “The Great Work” of our time. The remaining 12 panels over the five-day conference expanded the spirituality and sustainability theme with presentations by 60 participants from Europe, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia and North America. The convergence of such visionary people from a range of ecological-spiritual perspectives, centers and movements made for rich dialogue about transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability. Lively engagement continued during common meals and throughout the various group excursions to important sites in the life of St. Francis and St. Clare.  Deep connections were formed, and The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College has now cemented partnerships with several important allies to network for transformative global change. 

    The goals of the conference were to network centers and movements seeking transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability, identify key recommendations for transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability, and support young ecological leaders seeking transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability.

    The Conference focused on worldviews (our guiding stories) grounded in ecological spiritualities, on transformative paths for education, policies, movements, lifestyles and communities, on current expressions of ecological spirituality and their indigenous roots, and on the great transition toward ecological civilizations with new paradigms of science, economics and law. There was a particular concern regarding the Doctrine of Discovery. The issue has been gaining attention recently with many indigenous spiritual leaders calling for the Holy See to engage more completely in a deeper discussion of the damage still accruing from these 16th century proclamations of the Church regarding the rights of indigenous persons.

    Participants also explored strategies to deepen and to implement the United Nations new development agenda – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and ways to protect and to nurture sacred places. Several sessions were dedicated to key recommendations for creating a viable and spiritually vital global future, with particular reliance on the Earth Charter which became the basis of common ground and language for the leaders.

    Finally, the Conference fostered deep dialogue on how we can work together on the way forward toward a just, sustainable and peaceful future that will support human development for all in a flourishing Earth community.

    Energized by this remarkable meeting, The Berry Forum will continue to plan our own convergences on campus in the spirit of Laudato Si and the vision of Thomas Berry, now with additional global partners as an outcome of our participation in this significant conference of exceptional environmental thinkers and leaders.

    Center for Earth Ethics Union Theological Seminary, New York
    Center for Ethics Saint Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Fla.

    Center for Environmental & Sustainability Education At Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Fla.
    Earth Charter International, San Jose, Costa Rica
    Forum on Religion & Ecology at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut
    Franciscan Action Network, Washington, D.C.
    Geoversiv Foundation, Minneapolis
    Glenmary Home Missioners, Cincinnati
    Institute Of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma, Calif.
    Pax Romana Catholic Movement For Intellectual & Cultural Affairs Usa, Washington, D.C.
    Saint Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Fla.
    Sukyo Mahikari Europe, Luxembourg
    Thomas Berry Forum For Ecological Dialogue At Iona College, New Rochelle N.Y.
    Tommy E. Short Charitable Foundation, San Diego
  • A Reflection Inspired by the 8th Anniversary of the Death of Thomas Berry


    A look back at the importance of the Exodus story and Thomas Berry's vision.

    By: Danny Martin, Ph.D.

    Underpinning Narrative
    Today, when we need it most, we have no underpinning narrative that unites us in a common identity and gives us purpose. Without such a foundation, it is extremely difficult to navigate the strange waters of our times.

    David Brooks, The New York Times columnist wrote recently about how the Exodus story once served this purpose for our ancestors who came to this country, escaping bondage of various kinds, and seeking a new ‘promised land.’ They saw themselves as a ‘chosen people’ like the people of the original Exodus, with the role of building a ‘new Jerusalem’ and creating a ‘new covenant.’ The founders of the United States had a similar sense of destiny, while Martin Luther King invoked the Exodus story in his attempts to expand this new covenant to all the races and peoples of our country. U.S. presidents in the later twentieth century took this further by proclaiming a global Exodus story for all nations, with the U.S. as the leader toward that new world.

    The Exodus story inspired the values of social justice, care for the vulnerable and equality for all that shape the U.S. constitution. Over time these values expanded to include ‘ordinary’ people (besides the privileged class of white men who created the constitution): women, slaves, Native Americans and the many sexual orientations. It is to be hoped that this expansion will, in the future, include refugees, animals, the land and the waters.

    But, Brooks laments, this story has effectively gone. It no longer underpins our culture and the institutions that express it. The Exodus story has been replaced, not by a new story, but by a utilitarian philosophy and a technological mindset that is without a sense of purpose: why we are here: what America is for. This philosophy informs a number of models: one is the Libertarian model that emphasizes production, consumerism and acquisition – anything but citizenship; two is a new globalized version of the same; three is a multicultural model that proclaims inclusion into the same process; and four is an America First that is essentially self-focused and views outsiders as diluting and weakening our capacity to produce and consume. The leaders we elect reflect versions and combinations of these models: valueless, materialistic, corrupt, short-term thinking, autocratic on the one hand and on the other hand idealistic and inadequately skilled in the art of collaboration.

    A New Story
    Clearly we need a new story, a new underpinning narrative around which we can all gather. We need a new sense of meaning and purpose that will inspire and direct our relationships with each other and the world we share. The Exodus story is a wonderful history of a people’s journey, and as such, it is still a good framework for us. Of course the Exodus story – both its Biblical and American forms – was shaped by contexts that are quite different from ours today. The context of our Exodus story is more complex: we are more diverse and there are many more of us; we have more knowledge and technology to use it; we know more and are more aware of the implications of that knowledge: from impact to responsibilities. A new Exodus story will have to reflect all of this.

    Thomas Berry was the person who helped me appreciate the critical nature of a new story when he spoke of a ‘functional cosmology.’ Every culture, he told me, needs a story of origins that defines our place in the unfolding of this larger story in order for us to be able to make sense of the world we live in. An adequate – ‘functional’ – cosmology enables me to get up in the morning, to deal with failure, to keep going in the face of overwhelming challenges, to integrate death, our own and others’. Such a cosmology today would have to include the vast, ever-expanding knowledge of the scientific community with its implications of universal interconnectedness and expansion. A truly functional cosmology would have to integrate the realities of this interconnected world: from sustainability to radical rights that go beyond humans.

    However, Berry also suggested that the scientific story of the universe – scientific cosmology – is not enough. Rather this is simply the framework that requires the contribution of the vast universe of stories to become a truly functional cosmology. For a common story will only emerge out of the sharing of all the many forms of this universe. Clearly this is an ongoing and, indeed, endless process. But that doesn’t excuse us. In fact, it gives us all a new (or rediscovered) purpose as well as the opportunity to participate in a powerful way in the very unfolding of the universe, in what Berry calls ‘the Great Work’ of our time.

    Berry suggests that we humans are the universe come to a self-reflective mode. The universe becomes aware of itself in us. This would suggest that our role – our great work – is to develop this self-awareness on behalf of the universe by engaging the myriad stories. Of course, we’ve been doing this throughout our history: telling our own stories but also the stories of the many forms of life we encounter and relate to. So we know how to do this: we know how to create a functional cosmology. It’s just that we’ve been distracted from our work by the seductive glitter of popular technology that keeps us increasingly busy and increasingly confused about what is real and valuable.

    Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue
    The essential work of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue (TBFED) is to assist the emergence of this new story that will serve as a functional cosmology for us all. TBFED, which was formed shortly after Berry’s death in 2009, does this by bringing together the multiple forms (threads) of this essential story in the various worlds of health, education, commerce, law, religion, play, etc. and helping us weave the new story from these threads.

    The Forum also, and perhaps most importantly, does its work by being as well as fostering a community of contemplative ecologists. For, we need to tap into the underground stream of life that we all share in order to access its deep wisdom and higher power to guide and empower our efforts. We do this through our own wells – our own deep stories that are our entry points into this underground stream. Here we meet each other: all of us – human, certainly, but also animal, plant, earth and stars. Here we access the higher power that informs us, and all things. Here we discover the wisdom we need to survive and thrive in this mysterious world.

    For the fact is, this is how we have survived (and thrived) till now. The Biologist, E.O. Wilson, has said that the reason humans are a successful species is that we have learned to come together: to form community, to collaborate, to love. We access the wisdom and power that we need through interacting with each other in deep dialogue which, as the Greek roots of the word suggest (dia = ‘through’ and logos = ‘meaning) is actually – at its best – participating in the emergence of meaning and truth. This universal dialogue has been the source of the stars and the planets, the plants and the animals, human beings and their mysterious consciousness.

    Thomas Berry, like other major figures at times of change (Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis) tapped into the power and wisdom of this underground stream. Today, we need to do the same in what is clearly a moment of transition for us all.
  • Thomas Berry Forum Joins Citizens Climate March on Washington


    Members of the Thomas Berry Forum join more than 200,000 marchers for the Citizens Climate March on Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2017.

    By: Br. Kevin Cawley

    There are always questions for some about the worth of public demonstrations on behalf of good causes. Assembling large contingents requires, among other concerns, months and months of careful planning and long discussions about logistics, permits, line of march, themes, signage requirements and restrictions, transport logistics, costs to participants in time and money, alternative routes, weather contingencies, constituencies to accommodate, and security issues for sensitive locations. And so the decision to march in Washington, D.C., was taken in June 2016, well before the outcome of the November election for president. The challenge to Earth in these times cannot be more vividly framed for those who are paying close attention. No matter who was elected U.S. President, the message had to be carried to Washington in the first 100 days of the new administration: we, the people, need you to lead wisely and make common cause with global partners to reduce the disruptions of the climate that we know are the result of human activity.

    We now know too much to take a relaxed attitude toward the disruption in the climate cycle and an array of other disturbing signals on the health of Earth and ultimately the health of all living creatures. And so on Saturday, April 29, some 200,000+ citizens of the U.S. gathered on the streets of Washington to make clear their deep concern and growing distress about the failure of leadership at the federal level to come to terms with our predicament and take decisive action. The distress has only deepened with the news that on the day of the march the Environmental Protection Agency was busy purging its website of information about climate change — including critical details on the Clean Power Plan. This groundbreaking plan to reduce climate pollution from our nation's power plants is our most important tool for tackling climate change. And it's a prime target of President Donald Trump and his EPA chief Scott Pruitt's war on climate action. 

    We needed to show up and put people on the streets to help the deciders to realize that people care deeply about their decisions.  We believe that they cannot maintain the usual calm and reasonable sounding tone of “doing what is best” for the country if hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens are making the sacrifice to journey for many hours and protest for many hours and endure many hours returning to their homes in the dark of the next morning. To make a point. To be certain that their concerns are dramatized. To share their dismay.

    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue had already marched for Science on April 22 in New York and the Washington March the following week. There was no question but to step up once again and join with colleagues to make our concerns public. On April 29, by 6 a.m. the bus from New Rochelle was full and ready to depart City Hall. Our driver, Mike, started the day with energy and good cheer and we raced down the New Jersey Turnpike before stopping for a break in Pierpont, N.J., for a half hour to stretch.  A full bus and parts of the ride quite bumpy so sleeping was not easy. We arrived at RFK Stadium in D.C. slightly after noon.  A few photos and a walk to the metro where we sorted out our train passes and our roster and joined several hundred fellow marchers from WEACT in New York. A few stops later at Federal Circle we left the metro and began a hot walk to locate our stepping off point with the faith groups organized by GreenFaith. Washington is well organized, but it is planned for large gatherings which means that things are far apart for those used to the closely jammed grid of New York. Long walks ensued at each shift of location. Our group arrived to see a curb to curb assemblage of fellow marchers in the faith contingent. We found our friends, Carl Procario-Foley and his daughter Susann, who had traveled by car ahead of us. Cell phone magic again.

    The marching was slow stepping in hot sun. Signs were abundant and some full of humor. Nearly all were homemade. You could imagine a lot of kitchen tables covered with poster board, markers, tape, scissors, cardboard, more tape and even some artistry alongside the usual hasty scrawls. There were periodic roars and at one point a full sit down for one minute of silence, a “heartbeat” for the planet. Later, there were cries of “shame,” “shame,” “shame” as groups passed the newly refurbished Trump Hotel in the former Post Office building.  A wonderful abundance of community at large come together to call out the leadership that will not or cannot seem to lead wisely on these fundamental questions. Speaking truth to power with magic marker. How are we to live sustainably in this time and leave a livable planet behind for the generations to follow us? What are we being called to?  How do we bring the changes needed?

    The day in D.C. concluded with hot, sleepy, deeply weary but exhilarated marchers heading back to the Metro stop at the Smithsonian. We found ourselves passing a large Federal building on our left whose front steps and plaza were strewn with signs laid to rest in a fashion at the doorstep. The building plaque identified it as the EPA. Marchers had spontaneously been leaving their pleading signs for care of Earth at the doorstep of the beleaguered EPA, like abandoned crutches at Lourdes, hoping for our own miracle here in Washington.

    The pilgrimage ended at near midnight in New Rochelle as Mike discharged the final passengers at the parking lot in New Rochelle City Hall. Several bonds of friendship were sealed with exchanges of cards and promises to email to keep in touch. More allies in the great work.
  • Thomas Berry Forum Marches for Science


    Sr. Kathleen Deignan and Br. Kevin Cawley headed the Iona delegation that walked to advocate for sensible science in support of public policy at the March for Science in New York City on April 22, 2017.

    By: Br. Kevin Cawley

    Science is God's great gift to the human race because it allows us to better wonder at the awe of creation, and to better understand our collective vocation as its protector and steward. As Benedict XVI reminded us again and again, “science is faith's great sister” because it reminds us that faith must always be rational. Faith presupposes doubt because it says there is so much unknown. Science is the means to study and understand that doubt. A rational faith can transform the human race.

    Sr. Kathleen Deignan, professor of Religious Studies at Iona College and convener of the Berry Forum, headed the Iona delegation along with Br. Kevin Cawley, Edmund Rice International (ERI) main representative to the United Nations in New York and executive director of the Berry Forum. They walked with thousands of fellow concerned citizens to advocate for sensible science in support of public policy at the March for Science in New York City on April 22, 2017. Participants convened on Central Park West near 71st St. in a misting rain around 11:30 a.m., and proceeded down Central Park West toward Broadway for 20 blocks before dispersing in Times Square around 2 p.m. The mood was a generous mix of determined souls adamant about the current dismissal of the science of global warming on display at the White House in Washington and various federal agencies. The atmosphere was enthusiastic and playful, no matter the rain and the topic.

    Many of the signs and costumes of the marchers had humorous touches despite the serious matter that provoked the occasion. Many messages at the New York rally took on a political hue. One demonstrator carried a sign with a diagram. “Before you dismiss science, Mr. President,” it said, “here is the molecular formula for hair spray.” Another said, “Fund science, not walls.” Loud booing ensued as the various contingents passed by Trump World Tower at Columbus Circle. A number of Trump impersonators appeared from time to time along the route to draw the ire of the participants. Chants began and died out at several points. Many young children accompanied their parents; some riding on shoulders, some riding in strollers, and some on skateboards of various colors. Pets were also decorated with signs and slogans for the day. Large numbers of police officers deployed for protection of the marches and spectators appeared to have little to do except give directions and move the barricades as the line of march advanced southward down Broadway. A congenial atmosphere prevailed throughout.

    A large march took place in Washington, D.C., at the same time as the New York march. The demonstration in Washington – which started with teach-ins and a rally that packed the National Mall – was echoed by protests in hundreds of cities across the United States and around the world, including marches in Europe and Asia. As the marchers trekked shoulder-to-shoulder toward the Capitol, the street echoed with their calls: “Save the EPA” and “Save the NIH,” as well as their chants celebrating science, “Who run the world? Nerds,” and “If you like beer, thank yeast and scientists!” Some carried signs that showed rising oceans and polar bears in peril, and faces of famous scientists like Mae Jamison, Rosalind Franklin and Marie Curie, and others touted a checklist of the diseases Americans no longer get thanks to vaccines.

    Scientists who have been on the front lines of essential research for many years now see disheartening and dangerous ignorance of many administrators at the highest levels of U.S. federal agencies. This disturbing phenomenon is revealed in their public statements, their apparent lack of basic curiosity, and their subsequently short-sighted policy reversals on public health and safety issues. Organizers said they hoped the day’s demonstrations result in sustained, coordinated action aimed at persuading elected officials to adopt policies consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change, vaccines and other issues. We are reminded that Annie Dillard has written: “My God, what a world. There is no accounting for one second of it.”

    Notes: Br. Kevin Cawley with Washington material by Nicholas St. Fleur (NYT) and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

  • Berry Forum Participates in Historic Women’s March in New York


    A delegation of Iona students, staff and faculty took part in an historic public demonstration for climate, jobs, justice and women’s rights in New York City on January 21, 2017.

    Students marching
    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue led a delegation of Iona students, staff and faculty to New York City on January 21, 2017 to take part in an historic public demonstration for climate, jobs, justice and women’s rights as several hundred thousand citizens took to the mid-Manhattan Streets to make their voices heard. Students met at the New Rochelle train station and later rendezvoused with others at Grand Central Station before making their way slowly to Second Avenue for the march starting point. The immense crowds made the journey a slow shuffle. Eventually organizers and police opened up the route to allow the gathering throngs to move more or less freely across the midtown street grid to Fifth Avenue where they joined a long line of marchers stretching south to 42nd Street and extending fully to 57th Street and Trump Tower, the destination point for the outpouring.
    Iona representatives

    The Iona contingent led with a small banner from the Berry Forum as our marker. The expanded march meant several of our group dispersed earlier than planned and eventually a small band of Iona folks made their way to a dinner stop while looking back to see the large crowds still crossing 42nd Street as late as 6:30 p.m. Estimates ran as high as 400,000 marchers (and about 200,000 clever signs) protesting the perceived injustices, false narratives concerning immigrants, policies that threaten those made poor, insults, injuries and threats to the natural environment, to liberty and to fairness being proposed by the new administration in Washington, D.C.
    Crowded Street of New York City
  • Laudato Si: Living It Forward-Voices of Millennials


    Young scholars offer their visions of living forward into the challenges inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' and the legacy of Thomas Berry.

      The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona and Edmund Rice International hosted a wonderful gathering of graduate scholars and Iona students and alums for a full day of dialogue on Saturday, October 29, 2016.  Several presentations by graduate students from area universities about Laudato Si and the work of Thomas Berry framed the day of dialogue. 

      After greetings from Berry Forum Executive Director Dr. Kevin Cawley, CFC, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, co-founder of the Berry Forum at Iona and professor of Religious Studies, introduced the speakers and led the assembly in sung prayer accompanied by guitarist and guest musician Beth Bradley.   These musical interludes moved us through the various sessions of the day and gave the very rich experience a contemplative pace and space as the day unfolded.
      The audience heard careful and deeply considered reflections from our three invited speakers followed by lively dialogue and networking among those in attendance.  Dialogue sessions were led by Berry Forum members Dr. Danny Martin and Dr. Karen Killeen. Contemplative Intervals, animated by Dr. Brian Brown, gave participants pause to receive and respond to the invitations presented by the millennial scholars as they offered their visions of “living forward” the ecological spirituality proposed by both Pope Francis and Thomas Berry.

      The graduate scholars were James Robinson (Fordham University), who spoke on “The Great Work of Ecological Conversion;” Nanette Walsh (Union Theological Seminary), whose topic was "Practical Divinization for Ecologically Troubled Times;” and finally Christopher Fici (Hindu practitioner and Graduate Student at Union Theological Seminary), who addressed the topic "Anticipatory Community and the Common Good: Earth Honoring Faith as a Way Forward.”   There was also a Millennial Scholars Dialogue Session animated by students from Union Theological, Yale, The New School, Iona and Columbia, who discussed the passion that has brought them to religious/environmental studies.

      One of the highlights of the day was the presentation offered by the seven Iona alumni, who were sponsored by the Berry Forum and scholarship recipients from GreenFaith, a multi-faith, international initiative which offers intensive environmental leadership training for millennials from around the planet and from every religious tradition.  Stirring video from the GreenFaith Millennials Convergence in Rome and New Orleans during the past two summers gave a vivid account of the participation of Iona in these training “convergences” in Rome and New Orleans.  During those week-long events our students were filmed while engaging and strategizing with peers of their generation for climate action.  This session was enhanced by video from Africa partners, including a personal greeting from Iona graduate Br. Patrick Nuanah, who is now serving in Gambia.

      We were treated to a skyped presentation from Berry Forum Scholar, Rabbi Larry Troster, the designing director of the GreenFaith Fellowship program, who offered a session on “models of mentoring” millennial environmental leaders.  This closing circle of dialogue allowed the nearly 50 Iona students and other millennial scholars and guests to express their gratitude and hope as the Berry Forum concluded with a musical prayer and ritual encircling of Earth in blessing and hope.

      This gathering comes about as part of the Iona College commitment in the Strategic Plan Goal V Resources: Environmental Sustainability.  President Nyre formally committed Iona to the principles of Laudato Si in October 2015.

    We are especially pleased to note that our very full day featured a “Zero Waste” Luncheon with guidance from Ron Schulhof of Westchester Reform Temple. Ron helped plan the event with Charles Breed of Chartwells to ensure a zero waste program with compostable place settings, cups and a single compostable trash bag for the small amount of leftover food.

    -   Br. Kevin Cawley, Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College

  • Berry Forum Participates in Historic March on Behalf of Care of Earth


    Members of the Thomas Berry Forum traveled to Philadelphia on July 24, 2016, to participate in a march for Care of Earth.

    Members of the Thomas Berry Forum traveled to Philadelphia on July 24, 2016, to participate in a march for Care of Earth. The event was co-sponsored by Food and Water Watch of Pennsylvania to protest the fracking practices underway in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The larger purpose was to remind delegates to the Democratic National Convention meeting in Philadelphia of their obligations to take responsibility for care of Earth in the platforms and campaigns that will come out of discussions at the Convention.
    Organizers estimated in excess of 10,000 participants in the march from City Hall in Philadelphia to the mall at Independence Hall at the center of the city. The temperature hovered in the mid 90s and added a special challenge to the day. Prayers and music opened the event in the courtyard of Philadelphia City Hall. The first speaker at the Prayer Service was Chief Perry of the local indigenous peoples, the Lenni Lenape, whose history near the area reaches back approximately 100 centuries. 
    Sr. Kathleen Deignan, Dr. Brian Brown and Br. Kevin Cawley of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue were the Iona representatives for this historic gathering.

  • Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home -- One Year Anniversary


    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College continues sharing the good news of Laudato Si’ as the encyclical celebrates the first year anniversary of publication.

    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College continues sharing the good news of Laudato Si’ as the encyclical celebrates the first year anniversary of publication.
    Sr. Kathleen Deignan and Br. Kevin Cawley of the Berry Forum have been promoting the work of Pope Francis with presentations on the encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. The encyclical is commonly known as “Laudato Si’."
    Recent presentations included Holy Family Parish in New Rochelle, N.Y., and St. Augustine Parish in Larchmont, N.Y. Earlier, they had presented at the Greenburgh Nature Center in Hartsdale, N.Y. Audience members have also contacted additional sites for presentations. While Catholic parishes are a very obvious choice for sharing this teaching, there is also great interest in Laudato from other faith-based groups. Most recently, Sr. Kathleen and Br. Kevin presented to a gathering of more than 100 participants at the 87th Annual Luncheon of the Scarsdale-Hartsdale Women’s Club at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, N.Y.
    Kevin has also brought the Laudato slideshow to St. Joseph Care Center for the Christian Brothers in New Rochelle where the residents proved a very receptive audience with several penetrating questions afterward.
    The encyclical has been celebrated for nearly a full year at this time and has begun to enjoy a wider reception in faith groups. Invitations to the Berry Forum to present in other venues and other churches are a testament to the deep interest that Pope Francis has stirred with this work now added to the Church’s social teaching.   
    Members of the Berry Forum have noted several threads linking the teaching of Pope Francis and the writing of Thomas Berry, especially in the matter of our human-earth relationship. How the human responds to the challenge of a mutually beneficial human-earth relationship will be our “Great Work,” as Thomas believed. Our response will determine the lives of many millions who will inherit the surface of earth when the present generations have left the scene.

    -- Kevin Cawley
    Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College
  • Kathleen Deignan, CND presented a program on Laudato Si’


    On Saturday, November 21, 2015, Kathleen Deignan, CND, Berry Forum Co-Convener and Professor of Religious Studies, presented a program on Laudato Si’ to 100 religious men and women.

    On Saturday, November 21, 2015, Kathleen Deignan, CND, Berry Forum Co-Convener and Professor of Religious Studies, presented a program on Laudato Si’ to 100 religious men and women, most of whom represented the Ecology section of the regional Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The event was sponsored by Rockhaven Eco-Spirituality Center of St. Louis, Missouri.

  • Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America


    Leadership Meetings Ramada Conference Center Jacksonville, Florida November 11-15, 2015

    Br. Kevin Cawley, Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum recently made a special presentation to the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers Leadership Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida. The group received a one hour summary from Kevin on the basic outline and the long term implications of Laudato Si’, the encyclical on the environment from Pope Francis. The audience was appreciative , especially in light of the recent Congregation Chapter calls that included the phrase: “the agenda of the world is the mission of the congregation.” Pope Francis has lifted care for the earth, “Our Common Home” , to the very first position on the global agenda. We would do well to attend to his call for action and continue to inform our brothers of the contours of these large challenges.

    Below is the set of slides that was presented. Slides are the work of Br. Kevin Cawley, Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum.

  • Human – Earth Relations


    The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert Winner 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

    The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
    Winner 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
    Pulitzer Citation: 
    For a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author. 
    Awarded to "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History," by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt), an exploration of nature that forces readers to consider the threat posed by human behavior to a world of astonishing diversity.”
    Below is a set of slides that can provide an overview of the main arguments of the book.  Slides are the work of Br. Kevin Cawley, Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum.

  • Greenburgh Nature Center Hosts Berry Forum Presentation on Encyclical, Laudato Si


    The Greenburgh Nature Center hosted Sr. Kathleen Deignan and Br. Kevin Cawley of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College on September 9, 2015.

    The Greenburgh Nature Center hosted Sr. Kathleen Deignan and Br. Kevin Cawley of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College on September 9, 2015. The evening event drew approximately 30 participants who heard an explanation of the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.

    The powerpoint slides can be viewed below:

  • Care of Our Common Home: Food Security


    Br. Kevin Cawley on behalf of the Thomas Berry Forum was recently invited to address a group of faith-based NGO United Nations representatives. The group had gathered at Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie NY.

    Br. Kevin Cawley on behalf of the Thomas Berry Forum was recently invited to address a group of faith-based NGO United Nations representatives. The group had gathered at Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie NY. Much of the day was given over to reflection around advocacy on behalf of those made poor.

    Kevin presented ideas on Food Security and the Human-Earth relationship through the lens of the Christian Gospel and the insights of Fr. Thomas Berry. Included were recent learnings on care of Earth and the challenges facing agriculture as currently practiced in the developed world. The food security issues raised were linked to current knowledge of the impact of climate change and the pressures on arable land gradually disappearing around the globe due to degradation of soils, land grabbing, deforestation, nitrogen-phosphorus cycles, extractive industries and the disruptions in weather impacting growing seasons due to climate change. The encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ on Care of Our Common Home provided a powerful template for discussion.

    The powerpoint slides can be viewed below:

  • Iona STL115 Presentation by Br. Kevin Cawley


    Br. Kevin Cawley, Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue recently made a presentation to STL 115 taught by Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Sibdas Ghosh. The theme of the presentation was an examination of the human-earth relationship in the context of the contemporary challenge to live sustainably across the globe.

    Br. Kevin Cawley, Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue recently made a presentation to STL 115 taught by Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Sibdas Ghosh. The theme of the presentation was an examination of the human-earth relationship in the context of the contemporary challenge to live sustainably across the globe. Kevin was able to link our present-day awareness of the danger we face by humanity’s continuing dependence on fossil fuels for heat and light and transport and basic sustenance. The presentation examined several paths to a sustainable future including the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the General Assembly for the next 15 years. Students also received a brief introduction to the encyclical of Pope Francis, “Laudato Si’ - On Care for Our Common Home.” A brief reference to the Paris Climate Negotiations to conclude in December closed the session.

    The powerpoint slides for the class can be viewed below:

  • Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue Hosts An Evening Discussion of Laudato Si'


    The Berry Forum hosted an evening of reflection and celebration of the historic Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si.

    Panel for Discussion of Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si'

    Keynote Speaker: Professor Erin Lothes (second from right)

    Berry Forum Panelists: Karen Killeen, Fr. Robert Gahler, Danny Martin, Sr. Kathleen Deignan (L-R)

    The Berry Forum hosted an evening of reflection and celebration of the historic Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home. Keynote speaker: Erin Lothes Biviano, Assistant Professor of Theology at the College of St. Elizabeth, and coordinator of the "Discipleship and Sustainability" Interest Group of the Catholic Theological Society of America. An expert on energy ethics, she shared her impressions of the document and its implications for our world. A lively exchange followed with our panel and members of the audience.

  • Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue Hosts Interfaith Luncheon


    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue hosted a luncheon on March 25, 2015 in Spellman Lounge for approximately 40 visitors working on Care of Earth issues.

    Discussion of Forthcoming Encyclical of Pope Francis on Ecology

    The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue hosted a luncheon on March 25, 2015  in Spellman Lounge for approximately 40 visitors working on Care of Earth issues. The occasion brought together a number of faith groups in order to coordinate responses to the forthcoming encyclical on the environment promised by Pope Francis for release this summer.   The interfaith effort at Iona was placed to take advantage of the timing of the encyclical as we approach the United Nations Climate Treaty final negotiations in Paris this December.
    Following the warmest year in history and dire warnings from climate scientists, and with major UN climate talks approaching in December, the encyclical could not be better timed.
    The collaboration consists of a number of players.  RENEW International, GreenFaith and the Catholic Climate Covenant have launched a unique collaboration to produce a faith-sharing guide on the encyclical, to be released late in 2015. This project will bring the encyclical into the lives of thousands of people. Designed for small faith groups, it will help parishioners discuss the encyclicals teachings and apply them to their lives. It will also include responses to the encyclical from leaders from diverse religious backgrounds. RENEW International, GreenFaith and the Covenant are each leaders in their fields.  RENEW International helps dioceses and parishes to create small groups in which adult Catholics encounter Christ in Scripture and prayer, share their faith with each other, and connect it to action in their everyday lives. 
    GreenFaith is a leading interfaith environmental organization that mobilizes diverse faith communities for environmental leadership.  
    The Catholic Climate Covenant is a partnership of leading Catholic organizations and works to integrate Catholic teaching and spur action on climate change throughout the Catholic community.
     RENEW’s Sister Terry Rickard, GreenFaith’s Rev. Fletcher Harper, the Covenant’s Dan Misleh each spoke briefly at the event.  The conveners of the Berry Forum, Br. Kevin Cawley, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, Dr. Danny Martin, Dr. Brian Brown, Nurse Practitioner Karen Killeen, and Rabbi Larry Troster all were in attendance for the discussion and interchange that followed.
    The Berry Forum will continue to sponsor events around care of Earth issues and will engage with students and colleagues on these challenges.  Please take a look at the Berry Forum link on the Iona College Website for further information.  (

    Photos of Luncheon Event on promised Encyclical

    Brother Kevin Cawley, Executive Director

    Brother Kevin Cawley welcomes visitors with a reading from Father Thomas.

    Reverend Fletcher Harper addresses the luncheon.

    Rev. Fletcher Harper, Dan Misleh, and Sister Terry Rickard