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Environmental author Thomas Berry passes away

Thomas Berry, a well known environmentalist, author and Catholic Priest, passed away Monday at age 94. Berry wrote several influential ecological books, including the well-known “The Dream of the Earth.” Thomas Berry was the brother of our inspirational friend, the late James Berry, who published a series of ecological essays with us here at Barefoot Press. Our thoughts are with the Berry family today.

The Raleigh News and Observer published this obituary in today’s paper:

GREENSBORO — Father Thomas Berry, a Greensboro native and world-renowned cultural historian, died Monday at age 94 at Well-Spring Retirement Community.

Berry, a Passionist Catholic priest, was considered a leading ecological thinker in America. He had eight honorary degrees and numerous awards and honors.

According to his Web site, www.thomasberry.org, Berry described himself as a “geologian,” a historian of the Earth and its evolutionary processes.

Berry earned 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 has lived in China and traveled to other parts of Asia. He authored two books on Asian religions

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).

Berry’s health had declined over the years, and his family expected his death, said his sister, Dr. Margaret Berry. “He had a quiet death, and the family was with him when he died,” Berry said. “We have people from all over the world who are e-mailing and planning to attend one of the four services.”

The Berry family will hold funeral services in Greensboro, New York and Vermont. The Greensboro service will begin with an open-casket visitation from 11 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. Wednesday in the Narthex entrance of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. It will be followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m.

The Greensboro memorial will conclude with a reception from 4 to 5:30 p.m. hosted by the Passionists in the auditorium at Well-Spring Retirement Community, 4100 Well-Spring Drive.

Donations honoring Berry’s memory may be made to the Thomas Berry Foundation, c/o Mary Evelyn Tucker, 29 Spoke Drive, Woodbridge, CT 06525

For more on Thomas Berry’s work: www.thomasberry.org

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