Ilia Delio, OSF, PhD speaks in the chapel at Mariandale

On Saturday, April 29, the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, Ilia Delio, OSF, PhD spoke to an audience of 300 in person and online at The Center at Mariandale’s second annual St. Catherine of Siena Environmental Summit. Her talk entitled “Healing, Wholeness, and the Power of Love: Why Teilhard’s Vision Matters” conveyed the urgency of the environmental crisis while inspiring hope for humanity and the Church, which are still “moving, evolving, and coming into being.” Eleven retreat centers from seven states co-sponsored and participated in the event.

Maria Barbera, OP offered welcoming remarks on behalf of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, highlighting Catherine’s efforts to reform the 14th century Church and bring peace to a violent and unjust society. Barbera encouraged Summit participants to lean into Catherine’s declaration that “To the servant of God every place is the right place, and every time is the right time.”

In her address, Delio proclaimed that “Christianity is not over and done, it’s just waking up,” describing Jesus as a “boundary crosser” with particular relevance at this time of deep division in the Church and society. She noted that the signs of the times call for a shift in consciousness of the interrelationship of God, humanity, and Nature and said that “if we live in the exile of un-relatedness, we are global warming incarnate.”

Love was another theme of her talk. “Love is the reason we are here,” Delio said, distinguishing true love “seeking justice” from false love “seeking self-fulfillment.” She asserted that it’s an absence of love which creates the conditions for evil, with the unloved person acting out of a sense of “unloved-ness.” We all have a responsibility to break this cycle, said Delio, encouraging everyone to “choose to love, and to give it all we have.”

“Hearing her presentation was just mind-blowing,” said Mary Schneiders, OP, who gave the invocation. “It opened up what was already opening up in me, even more.”

Attendees expressed gratitude for Delio’s message of hope in facing the environmental crisis and other hard realities. “She does not believe that we’re doomed,” said Jmel Wilson. “She feels we still have the time and the opportunity to keep making choices that will change things. And that’s her really important message for me.”