News » Iona launches new institute committed to protecting the Earth

Sun 06 October 2019ShareComment
Kathleen Deignan Institute

Kathleen Deignan Institute

The Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND Institute for Earth and Spirit at Iona College was launched on October 3 2019.

On October 3, friends, family and members of the campus community gathered at Iona College for the launch of the Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND Institute for Earth and Spirit.

A sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame (CND), Kathleen Deignan, Ph.D., is a member of the Religious Studies faculty at Iona College where she founded the Iona Peace and Justice Studies Program, and the Iona Peace Institute in Ireland.

The Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND Institute for Earth and Spirit is a collaboration of three current endeavors, which Deignan also founded: the Iona Spirituality Center, the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue and the Thomas Merton Contemplative Initiative. The Iona Spirituality Center sponsors a variety of programs for spiritual development. The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue is an open and inclusive space for ecological education, exploration and transformation. The Thomas Merton Contemplative Initiative keeps alive the teachings of the Trappist monk and 20th century spiritual master Thomas Merton and encourages spiritual awakening to empower creative transformation of consciousness, conscience and culture.

The institute brings these three initiatives together to foster a commitment to protecting the earth through teachings from religion, environmental science and justice studies.

The institute was made possible by a generous donation from Iona College alumnus Christopher J. O’Connor ’89, ’92MBA, ’94PMC, who was so inspired by his classes with Deignan that he wanted to give back to the community and help her touch the lives of many others.

“The generosity of my beloved student has made a life-long dream come true for me: to cultivate a little school for great transformation,” said Deignan. “The gift summons us to build an even more relevant place for ecological awakening and action.”

During the evening reception, senior vice president for Advancement & External Affairs, Paul J. Sutera, shared, “I could say that we are now done, but, I would be incorrect. Rather, you have put forth a challenge to each of us, the Sister Deignan storytellers in this room and beyond. We, too, need to say thank you and pay it forward by making a gift in honor of Sister Kathleen and the institute. Chris – you have given us a great opportunity… a great power for these students. We are so thankful for your philanthropy, and our work begins today.”

Donations to support the mission of the Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND Institute for Earth and Spirit can be made at Please use the drop down menu under “Designation” and select The Sister Deignan Institute.

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