Director of the Sophia Center James Conlon received the Thomas Berry Great Work Award on July 18 at the Valley Center for the Performing Arts at Holy Names University. Mary Evelyn Tucker, senior lecturer and senior research scholar at Yale University and trustee of the Thomas Berry Foundation, bestowed the award to Conlon.
The Thomas Berry Great Work Award recognizes individuals in higher education whose work exemplifies Berry’s admonition that colleges and universities should “reorient the human community toward a greater awareness that the human exists, survives, and becomes whole only within the single great community of the planet Earth.”
Conlon has served as the director of the Sophia Center at HNU for more than 17 years, and has taught, written, and lectured on spirituality and culture, theological education, social and ecological justice, and community organization and development for 30 years. He is the author of several books, including the recently published Sacred Butterflies: Poems, Prayers and Practices (Wyndham Hall Press, 2013), which urges readers to create a dynamic integration of their interior life and everyday world.
The award presentation took place on the first evening of the Sophia Center’s Summer Institute, which brought together spirituality, ecology, and social justice leaders to discuss nature and the soul. Speakers included Stephen Dunn, founder of the Elliott Allen Institute on Theology and Ecology at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto; David Abram, a cultural ecologist, philosopher, and performance artist; and Thomas Moore, author of the bestselling book Care of the Soul and 15 other books on deepening spirituality and cultivating the soul. The center also hosted a post-institute retreat titled “Tapping into Nature’s Mysterious Power with Thomas Moore.”