Thomas Berry (November 9, 1914 – June 1, 2009)
We wanted you to know that Thomas Berry passed away early on the morning of June 1st at Wellspring home where he had been living in Greensboro, North Carolina. He died peacefully and with family at his side. Fortunately we were visiting with him just 10 days ago. He was our beloved teacher and friend. Because of his insight and understanding of the religions of the world we were inspired to carry his work forward in the Forum on Religion and Ecology.
Thomas Berry was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1914. From his academic beginnings as a historian of world cultures and religions, Berry developed into a historian of the Earth and its evolutionary processes. He describes himself as a “geologian.”
Berry received his Ph.D. in European Intellectual History with a thesis on Giambattista Vico’s philosophy of history. Widely read in Western history, he also spent many years studying the cultural history of Asia. He lived in China and traveled to other parts of Asia. He authored two books on Asian religions, Buddhism and Religions of India (distributed by Columbia University Press).
For two decades, he directed the Riverdale Center of Religious Research along the Hudson River. During this period he taught at Fordham University where he chaired the history of religions program and directed 25 doctoral theses. His major contributions to the discussion on the environment are in his books The Dream of the Earth (Sierra Club Books, 1988 reprinted, 2006), The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (Random House, 1999) and, with Brian Swimme, The Universe Story (Harper San Francisco, 1992). His latest collection of essays is Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community (Sierra Club Books and University of California Press, 2006).
This August two more books of his essays will be published: The Sacred Universe (Columbia University) and The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth (Orbis Books).
He has been a great gift in our lives – and in many others’ as well. His warmth, humor, and insight have enhanced so many gatherings and his writings will remain as a remarkable legacy of a brilliant mind.
We will be at the funeral celebration of his life in Greensboro on Wednesday, June 3rd. Thomas will be buried at the Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, Vermont on June 8th. We are also planning a memorial service in New York on September 26th at the Cathedral of St John the Divine where Paul Winter will play and Brian Swimme and others will speak. We will keep you posted on this.
His family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations can be made in his memory to:
The Thomas Berry Foundation
c/o Mary Evelyn Tucker & John Grim
The Forum on Religion and Ecology
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
195 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
SO many beautiful tributes are coming from across North America and around the world, suggesting that today marks a new beginning for carrying on the “great work” he began.
With our warm wishes,
Mary Evelyn & John
Thomas Berry who passed away on June 1st is being remembered in many places across North America and around the world. So many messages are coming in with words of deep appreciation for this remarkable teacher, writer, and sage.
Thus we are pleased to invite you to join us for the Thomas Berry Award and Memorial Service on Saturday, September 26th, 2009 at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City. For many years the Cathedral has held a special place in the religious and cultural life of New York. Thomas Berry was a canon there and he was a major inspiration for the Cathedral’s long standing concern for the environment. We are delighted that Dean James Kowalskiis welcoming this event with great enthusiasm.
The Thomas Berry Award was initiated in 1998 at the same time as the Thomas Berry Foundation was established. This year the award will be given to Martin Kaplan who helped to set up the Thomas Berry Foundation and has been an extraordinary supporter of Thomas’ vision. He is a leader in the field of environmental grant making and has assisted environmental programs at Harvard, Columbia, MIT, and Yale. He has been instrumental in the work of the Forum on Religion and Ecology.
This event will take place in the Cathedral, which is located at Amsterdam and 112th Street near Columbia University. The schedule is as follows:
2:00 Thomas Berry Award ceremony honoring Martin Kaplan
4:00 Thomas Berry Memorial Service with Paul Winter
We look forward to you joining us for this special time to honor Thomas’ legacy and to recommit ourselves to the great work ahead.
Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Overview of Memorial Service
Tributes, Photos, and Obituaries