Kathleen Deignan: Silence and Nature (Part Two)

This episode concludes our conversation with Sister Kathleen P. Deignan, C.N.D. Sister Kathleen is an Irish-American theologian, author and sacred song writer who has been engaged in the ministry of liturgical musicianship for over forty years. She is currently composer-in-residence of Schola Ministries and is the founder and director of Iona Spirituality Institute at Iona College, New York, and previously directed the Iona Institute for Peace and Justice Studies in Ireland. Sr. Kathleen is a GreenFaith Fellow who recently completed an intensive training in religious environmental leadership. Her work in this area focuses on the prophet legacy of Father Thomas Berry and The Great Work of our time. She has previously served as president of the International Thomas Merton Society, and currently sits on the board of the American Teilhard de Chardin Society.

We can’t lose our real connection to the vitality that’s brought everything into being; the genius that brought everything into being; the hard work that every single creature which is part of my body — I am cell of their bodies, they are cells of my body — that all these cellular dimensions of this one planetary body we are, are working hard to get well. So I lean into that radically incarnate, visceral, physical, cellular kind of hope. — Sr. Kathleen P. Deignan, C.N.D.

Note: The featured image on today’s post is from Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky. Photo by Patricia Turner is used by permission. Learn more about her and her photography by clicking here: www.aphotographicsage.blogspost.com

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Sister Kathleen notes that her music is freely available online. But if you are interested in purchasing her music on CD, here are a few titles that feature the music of Sr. Kathleen:

For me, I feel my spiritual work is to live within radical unknowing, so my prayer is in “the cloud of unknowing.” Speaking of silence, you know that in the school of the cloud of unknowing, it’s all about silence. The only thing that you let spring up is a passionate word of love. That’s it. For me, it’s also mercy.  — Sr. Kathleen P. Deignan, C.N.D.

Episode 67: Silence and Nature: A Conversation with Sr. Kathleen Deignan (Part Two)
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Guest: Sr. Kathleen Deignan, C.N.D.
Date Recorded: April 22, 2019

I’ve been reading Thomas Merton since I was a young teenager. I was introduced to him during detention. At school I was always acting out in religion class, and the nun was always throwing me out of the classroom, down to the library. And the nun who was the librarian, we had this thing going, and she’d say, “In detention again, Kathleen Deignan?” and I’d say, “Yes, mother,” and she’d say, “Well, read that.” Boom! “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.” The next couple of days, she’d slam something down, it would be my favorite — “The Sign of Jonas” — or something… and then I joined the Congregation, and I was blessed to have an old training, and we had a lot of silence, and I had a lot of Merton. He was really my companion, and he just made it bloom. And still he takes my breath away.   — Sr. Kathleen P. Deignan, C.N.D.

Take a second to support the Encountering Silence Podcast on Patreon!
Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.


  1. It’s quite interesting, this focus on “the next phase of the human journey, the human phase, that the time of Homo Sapians is over.” I appreciate Sr Kathleen and Carl’s potential namings. I would add, my teacher describes the next phase is Homo Spiritus. There is so much to contemplate in the discussion, the possibility of “the new humankind.”

    I appreciate that Encountering Silence is capturing such fascinating topics!

Comments are closed.