June 2018

The lovely month of May was so lovely that a newsletter never made it out to you. As we rapidly approach the summer solstice, may this summer hold only the sweetest memories in the making!

CFET is into its tenth year hosting young people at our retreat facility. When we began, our aim  was two fold: first we wanted to provide people, of any age, with an opportunity to be in relationship with the people of Camden, around service, and second, we wanted to provide some educational and personal development experiences that would awaken in our visitors their vision and identity as change agents in our world. Both aims grew out of our mission to encourage people to live more gently on the planet.

This coming year we are going to mark our tenth year with a series of events at which we hope to see you. I want to tell you about them, but first I want to tell you a story, about one of our visitors.

A few years ago students from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology spent a week with us. One of the young men had an amazing experience which led him to wake up in the middle of the night, laughing so hard that he woke his mates up!  I’ll let him tell the story:

Ms. Cathy spoke with us on our first day about all the activities we would be doing during the week. One of the places we would visit is New Visions, she said, a day center for homeless people in Camden. She alerted us that this would be a challenging experience, because many of the people we would meet would be shy and bit embarrassed at their situation. Nonetheless, she said, we should be determined to learn the story of at least one person.  She also told me to bring my guitar!  Well, I did. There was an older gentlemen who I decided to befriend. However, he put me off, continually. I would not give up. Eventually, he told me his story, and I told him mine. He was also a guitarist, so we played together for some time. It was amazing!

In the middle of the night, I woke up laughing, and disturbed my room mates. They wondered what I was laughing at. I told them that I realized something quite profound and happy about myself.  You see, my whole life I have been working to attain something. I worked hard in grade school to get into a good high school, then I worked hard in high school to get into a good university like MIT, and now I’m working many hours a day so that I can get a good paying job.  Through all of that, I wasn’t happy, not really. I woke up laughing because it occurred to me, in the middle of my sleep, that I was happy, now, here, really.  I was happy because I was of service to another person. Service makes me happy! They told me: You have to tell Ms. Cathy! And I did!

The Center for Environmental Transformation is about the transformation of our attitudes and practices toward the environment, not just the natural environment of air, water and soil, but the environment of our relationships, ourselves and our communities.  This young man’s story could be multiplied 10 fold, and those are the ones we know!

To celebrate the wonderful work that has moved into its tenth year, we are hosting a series of lecture events in celebration of our inspirational leader, Thomas Berry. As you may remember, we didn’t hold our annual Berry Lecture this past year, but we plan to make up for that lapse.

On September 15,, 2018, a Saturday, at 2PM at Sacred Heart Church, come to meet and listen to John Dear speak on the theme “They will inherit the earth.”  John Dear is an international speaker and writer, with over a dozen books to his name.  He is a practitioner of non-violence, who has been arrested numerous times all over the world.  Most recently he participated in the protest at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipleine. His most recent book is “They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change,” Orbis Books (2018). He eloquently argues that nonviolence is the way forward in working for a peaceful and gracious relationship with each other and with Earth. He has put his body on the line, in spaces of conflict and war. His clarity of vision is striking, and his gentle challenge to each of us, as individuals and as a collective, cannot be ignored.  We will have his books for sale after his talk, and enjoy refreshments in our garden afterward.

Then, on December 1, 2018, another Saturday, at 2PM the renown artist, Mickey McGrath, and scientist/theologian Ilia Delio will give a talk entitled: From the Cave to the Cosmos: Art, Science and the Mysteries of our Faith.”  Brother Mickey is an amazing artist. You can see his art here. His studio is right across the street from Sacred Heart Church, so we are neighbors, CFET and he. He weaves images and words together into a sweet song of praise for all that is good and beautiful in creation.  Ilia Delio is a professor of Theology at Villanova University; you can read more about her work here. Her lifetime work has been to weave the beauty of science and the beauty of faith together into a story of the creative and loving power of God.  She and Mickey will lead us in a reflection of the profound connections between the mysteries of the cosmos and the mysteries of faith. Their books will also be available for sale after the talk, and some refreshments afterward, though likely NOT in the gardens!

We are working on additional events in the winter/spring of 2019, however, these two are set, and we want you to be our partners in letting people know about these events.

The Thomas Berry Lectures are also fundraisers for CFET. What we charge the young people who come to spend time with us is not sufficient to meet all of our expenses, and of course, we have our garden operations, with the education of young people of Camden. We cannot do what we do for the transformation of our beautiful city of Camden without significant financial support from you, our partners in this great work.

Tickets for each lecture are $20 ahead of time, $25 at the door. There are opportunities for people to be sponsors of each lecture, or both. For more information on those opportunities, please contact Cathy Nevins at canevins@verizon.net.  There are also opportunities for people to serve on the committee that will make these events happen. Be in touch with Cathy about that as well.

One last thing: commit to bringing 10 people to these events, including yourself. There is no better way to let people know what amazing things are happening here in Camden if we don’t invite them to come.  Let Cathy know if you’ll be one of our Ambassadors in this way: only 10 people!  Surely you’ll do that for the transformation of Camden!

Wishing you, again, a lovely and peaceful summer solstice!  Be in touch.


Mark Doorley, Ph.D.

President Emeritus

Board of Trustees

The Center for Environmental Transformation