Report on the 2010 Elderberry Conference
Changing the World from the Inside Out
The Contemplative at the Heart of the Cosmos
with Gail Worcelo, CP
Co-Founder of the Green Mountain Monastery and host of the Fr. Thomas Berry Sanctuary
Sixty participants gathered for the 6th annual Elderberry Connection Retreat held on April 23-25, 2010 at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. The weekend was a wonderful blend of thoughtprovoking input, and embodied reflection about our experience of being one with all of creation.
The theme "Changing the World from the Inside Out: The Contemplative at the Heart of the Cosmos," was led by Sr. Gail Worcelo, a Passionist sister and co-founder of the Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont. Sr. Gail, a protégé of Thomas Berry, OP., (1914-2009) participates in the Great Work by advancing Catholic teaching, tradition, and thought into its cosmological /planetary phase.
Sr. Gail described “Six Moments of Grace” as she termed them, in the religious life of the Church. These moments include the Desert Tradition; Benedict’s vision of community in service; Francis and Clare, Dominic and Catherine’s fusion of contemplation with the work of ministry; Ignatius’ development of intellect for right action in the world; Vincent de Paul’s promotion of charity through the corporal works of mercy; and finally to Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry’s recognition of the numinous presence of the Divine in cosmic evolution and the role of the human in this sacred story. A mystical stream flows throughout all these moments of grace. At this present time as we enter more fully into this “sixth moment,” we are called to risk encounter with ‘the other,’ embrace the unknown, and protect the web of life.
Small group interaction gave an opportunity to examine what this sixth moment of grace can begin to look like, in ourselves, our institutions, and even life itself on Earth.
In her second presentation, “The Third Jesus - The One You Can’t Ignore,” Sr. Gail used the powerful image of “leaning back” into Jesus as the facilitator of our inner sense of self. “Christ’s reality is not exhausted with his historicity,” she said. Recognizing that there is an emerging global consciousness, today we attempt to be interspiritual (beyond ecumenical and inter-religious) by sharing in the deep spiritual truths.
In her third presentation, “The Healing of the Earth Body and the Vow of Ahisma,” Sr. Gail invited us to embody the new universe story through dance, art, poetry and a commitment to non-violence. While grounding ourselves in the tradition, we now need to create new ways to understand our faith journey. One way is to explore a cosmological Mariology. To express this Sr. Gail presented each of the participants with a beautiful icon of “Mary of the Cosmos,” artistically designed by Sr. Bernadette, CP., co-founder of Green Mountain Monastery.
To address the integral need for action a “Youth Forum on Climate Justice: Copenhagen and Beyond” was hosted on Saturday afternoon. Three university students who were part of the Canadian Youth Delegations shared their experience of the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change. They also reflected with the Elderberry participants on issues of “Global South and Global North,” the “Tar Sands and Indigenous Rights,” the “Economy and Environment,” and “Youth Want to be Heard.” Professor Stephen Bede Scharper acted as the MC for the event. The students’ efforts were much admired and seen as hopeful signs for the future. Youth have much to contribute to the challenges facing the world.
On Sunday Sr. Gail shared with us, via slides and anecdotes, the memorial service and burial of Thomas Berry at the Green Mountain Monastery. It was a moving experience for everyone. Berry’s life certainly teaches us that “the dream drives the action.”
Mark is an adult educator and an ecumenical-justice activist. He writes of the interconnections between ecology, economics, social justice, spirituality, and cosmology.
For more information check this Elderberry web site in the fall of 2010l.
About Gail Worcelo
In 1999, after 25 years as a Passionist nun and with her community’s blessing, Gail began the Green Mountain Monastery and the Fr. Berry Sanctuary with guidance from her mentor, Fr Thomas Berry. Her particular focus has been the refounding of religious life in light of new understandings of the universe story and the bringing forward of an Integral Christianity for the 21st Century.
She has presented workshops and spoken at gatherings such as: The national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Sisters of Earth,Spiritual Directors International, Catholic Theological Union, the Sophia Center and internationally to many religious congregations. She is a writer, Liturgical Dancer and choreographer with degrees in clinical psychology and spirituality.
Gail invites participants to experience sitting in the "Ground of Being" and to reflect on what it would mean to bring that clear, clean, vast perspective out into the world individually and together. The weekend will include input, embodiment, contemplative time and experiential exercises.
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