"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Elderberry Connection

The Elderberry Connection is a Christian Spirituality group that celebrates the unfolding story of the universe.*

The Elderberry Connection provides opportunities to reflect on sacred relationships in creation and fosters a planetary spirituality to inspire and support action for ecological and social justice.

Our name refers both to Thomas Berry, our inspiration, and to the elderberry tree or shrub, so rich in life giving properties and in creation mythology.

Our History

The Elderberry Connection began in 2004 with a week-long retreat at theKelly's Homestead in PEI under the guidance of our facilitator, Sr. Jean Ann Ledwell , OSU.

We felt that our culture needed a boost of cosmic energy, inspiration and deep paradigm shift to live healthily in the 21st Century.

We realised that building communities of people open to the Cosmic Story (the scientific story of the Universe) would take time, organisation, and resources to make this new group come alive and bear fruit.

We therefore decided to have annual retreats in different venues to gather interested people to experience this New Story in all its dimensions.

In addition to our initial retreat, we have organised the following events:

- Walking the Way of Blessing An Ecospirituality of Earth Healing with Mark Hathaway in April 2011 at at Loyola Retreat House in Guelph , Ontario. Go here for details.

- Changing the World from Inside Out with Gail Worcelo, CP in April 2010 at Loyola Retreat House in Guelph , Ontario. Go here for details.

- Re-Imaging the Common Good: Creation Liberation, and the Promise of Hope in an Ecological Age with Stephen Bede Schaper in April 2009 at Scarboro Missions, Scarborough, Ontario. Go here for details.

- The Changing Nature of Contemporary Spirituality : Signs of hope from an Ecological Perspective with Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu (London, England) in April 2008 at Loyola Retreat House in Guelph , Ontario (80 participants).

- Spiritual Homecoming to the Land: Liberate our Passion for Earth Action with Jim Profit , SJ (Director of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Guelph, ON) and Sr. Maureen Wild, SC (BC) held in April 2007 at Loyola Retreat House in Guelph , Ontario (50 participants).

- Living an Engaged Cosmology: From Cosmic Awe to Global Transformation with Jim Conlon and Marianne Karsh (Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Guelph, ON) held in April 2006 at Cedar Glen, Bolton, Ontario (35 participants).

- Celebrating Engaged Cosmology and Geo-Justice with Jim Conlon director of the Sophia Center (Oakland, CA) held in April 2005 at the Holy Family Retreat House in Oxley , Ontario (55 participants).
Planning Committee

Our planning committee currently consists of the following people:
George Kelly (Chair)
Janet Speth (Event Registrar)
John Devan
Lorna Devan
Noreen Allossery-Walsh
Daisy Radigan (See her PDF brochures: "Integration with Creation,""New Dimensions Eco-Retreat Facilitation," and "One Earth, Many Religions")


About Thomas Berry

Thomas Berry, CP (1914-2009), author of The Great Work, Dream of the Earth, Befriending The Earth and The New Cosmology, and co-author with Brian Swimme of the Universe Story, was a wisdom "elder" in the truest sense. He was also a Passionist priest, a cultural historian and, to use a term he has coined, a "geologian" (or "Earth scholar").
Find out more here

About the Elderberry

Did you know that the elderberry has clusters of white, fragrant, star-shaped flower, nutritious, sweet, red or black berries, from which we can make wine, pies, jams, and teas, and branches that can be hollowed out to create flutes for making music or bellows to keep fires going?

Did you know that in an old indigenous creation myth, stars and birds conspire to plant the elderberry tree all over the earth as a gift to the first humans who are about to be created?


The 2012 Elderberry Conference
Earth Healing:
Walking the Path of Aboriginal Wisdom
with Priscilla Solomon, CSJ

“To me the presence of the Sacred – the one I call God – permeatesand sustains the Earth and all its creatures as well as the entirecosmos. It is a presence of love and compassion, a personal presence, a life-giving Spirit presence.”

You are invited to a weekend of dialogue and journey. Explore worldviews, cosmological time, mysticism, drumming, storytelling, and beauty. An Earth Day celebration that will focus on Earth healing!
Download the event poster here.
Download a special list of resources on Aboriginal issues and perspectives

For registration information, click here.

Event Location
Loyola House -
Ignatius Jesuit Centre

Loyola House began its life as a Retreat House known as the Guelph Centre of Spirituality more than 40 years ago. Over the past few years, Loyola House has also opened its doors to conferences, retreats, special events, banquets and meetings for the profit and non-profit sectors. Hundreds of organizations find its tranquil setting, its beauty and its facilities to be a unique location for such events, quite unlike the more traditional hotels and conference centres.
See the Loyala House Website

Stations of the Cosmos at Loyola House


Facilitators and Authors
Thomas Berry
See our page giving tribute to Thomas Berry
See also the webpage of the Thomas Berry Foundation

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".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 Universe Story (with Brian Swimme - Harper San Francisco, 1992)
- The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (2000)Evening Thoughts: Reflection on the Earth as Sacred (2006)
- The Sacred Universe (2009; editted by M.E. Tucker)The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth (2009; editted by M.E. Tucker and J. Grim)

Brian Swimme

Brian Swimme is a physicist and author of several books dealing with cosmology, evolution and religion. His research focuses on the evolutionary dynamics of the universe, the relationship between scientific cosmology and more traditional religious visions and the role of humanity in the unfolding story of Earth and cosmos.  In 1998, he founded the international Epic of Evolution Society forum for artists, scientists, ecofeminists, ecologists, religious thinkers and educators interested in the new story. He is the author of:

- The Universe is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story

- The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era: A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos (with Thomas Berry)

- The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, and

- A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us - The Evolution of Life on Earth (with Sidney Liebes and Elisabet Sahtouris)

Swimme's media work includes the video series, Canticle to the Cosmos and The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos.

Diarmuid O'Murchu

Diarmuid O'Murchu, a member of the Sacred Heart Missionary Order, and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin Ireland, is a social psychologist whose entire working life has been in social ministry. In that capacity he has worked as a couple's counsellor, in bereavement work, AIDS-HIV counselling and laterally with homeless people and refugees.

As a workshop leader and group facilitator he has worked in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, The Philippines, Thailand, India, Peru and in several African countries, facilitating programmes on Adult Faith Development.

His best known books include:
- Quantum Theology (1996 - revised in 2004),

- Reclaiming Spirituality (1998),

- Evolutionary Faith (2002),

- Catching Up with Jesus (2005),

- The Transformation of Desire (2007), and

- Ancestral Grace (2008).

Earth Image



Below are a few suggested books for further reading and reflection. See also our links page for information on centres and facilitators as well as our special tribute page focusing on Thomas Berry.
Download a special list of resources on Aboriginal issues and perspectives

Thomas Berry
- The Dream of the Earth (2nd edition, 2006)
- The Universe Story (with Brian Swimme, 1994)
- The Great Work (2000)
- Evening Thoughts: Reflection on the Earth as Sacred (2006)
- The Sacred Universe (with Mary Evelyn Tucker, 2009)
- The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth (2009)

Brian Swimme
- The Universe is a Green Dragon (2001)
- The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos (2002)
- A Walk through Time (with S. Liebes and E. Sahrouris, 1998)

Diarmuid O'Murchu
- Quantum Theology (2004)
- Evolutionary Faith: Rediscovering God in Our Great Story (2002)
- Prayers to an Evolutionary God (2004)
- Ancestral Grace: Meeting God in our Human Story (2008)

Mark Hathaway and Leonardo Boff
The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation (2009)

Leonardo Boff
- Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor (2002)
- Ecology and Liberation: A New Paradigm (2002)
- Essential Care (2007)

Sallie McFague
- The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (1993)
- A New Climate for Theology (2008)

Rosemary Radford Ruether
- Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing (1992)

Gail Worcelo
- Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology (2007)

Jim Conlon
- Geo-justice: A Preferential Option for the Earth (1990)
- Earth Story, Sacred Story (1994)
- Lyrics for Recreation (1997)
- At the Edge of our Longing (2004)
- From the Stars to the Streets (2007)
- Beauty, Wonder and Belonging: A Book of Hours for the Monastery of the Cosmos (2009)

Stephen Scharper
- Redeeming the Time (1997)
- The Green Bible (with Hillary Cunningham, 2001)

Journey of the Universe

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