Catholic Concern for Animals is extremely sad to hear of the passing of our great friend and Chair Emeritus, Dr Edward Echlin who entered into eternal life on 23rd December 2019, aged 89. He contributed many thoughtful and inspiring articles to The Ark, indeed he wrote the lead article in the last Ark (autumn 2019) ‘Christians and a Healthy Climate’. He contributed so much to the animals and the wider environment during his time on Earth and we celebrate his life and his life’s works as we remember him fondly. He has inspired us all.
Dr Edward P. Echlin, eco-theologian, organic gardener and Chair Emeritus of Catholic Concern for Animals, did his theological thinking with his hands in the soil. He was born on 15 January 1930 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1948 and remained a Jesuit for 25 years. In the sixties he taught theology at John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio. He had a special interest in ecumenical relations, especially between Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. He wrote his first book, The Anglican Eucharist in Ecumenical Perspective in 1968, plus many articles, and in 1974 The Story of Anglican Ministry. When the permanent diaconate was restored he chaired the US RC Bishops’ Committee on the theology of the diaconate and wrote his best selling book The Deacon and the Church, Past and Future (1971). He saw preaching the Word as the prime function of the priest and wrote The Priest as Preacher (1973). In 1972 he lectured in ecclesiology at Ushaw College, Durham, and in 1974 spent one term as Catholic Lecturer at the Anglican theological college at Lincoln. He was laicised and married Barbara in December 1974. He taught RE briefly at Bexhill Grammar School. Always interested in the environment, from the eighties onwards he focused all his efforts on relating Jesus Christ to the Earth. He saw reintegration with the Earth, in a mutually supportive relationship of humans with the Earth community, as the defining issue of the twenty-first century. He wrote three books: Earth Spirituality, Jesus at the Centre (1999/2002), The Cosmic Circle, Jesus and Ecology (2004), and Climate and Christ, A Prophetic Alternative (2010) plus numerous articles in both academic and popular journals and magazines. He had a passion for fruit trees and in the past year inspired the planting of 24 apple and pear trees, in church grounds, schools and individual gardens.
May he rest in peace.