Renamed Passionist retreat house reflects Berry’s call to heal the Earth

By Peter Feuerherd
April 2, 2021

NEW YORK — Seeing Fr. Thomas Berry's portrait on the walls of the Passionist monastery and retreat house in Jamaica, New York, it is difficult to imagine a time when the priest who helped enshrine the environment as a central concern in Catholic thought was relegated to the job of doorkeeper.

At the time, in the mid-1950s, Berry's religious superiors considered the philosopher priest's ideas more pantheistic than Christian, too embracing of Eastern philosophy with not enough emphasis on Catholic doctrine.

Despite the conflict, all accounts from his confreres indicate that Berry, who died in 2009 at 94, was a gracious host.

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Photo by Lou Niznik, Courtesy of the Thomas Berry Foundation