Over brunch today with some Catholic friends, I happened to mention something about Wendell Berry—which occurs with some frequency, as you might guess. Today, however, one of my friends mentioned that Wendell Berry was "a Passionist." And I replied, of course, "Oh, you mean Thomas Berry." But was met with "No, Wendell Berry."
The confusion between Fr. Thomas Berry, CP (a Passionist eco-theologian and author of The Dream of the Earth) and Mr. Wendell Berry is understandable. When Fr. Berry died in 2009 there was a significant flurry of concern over the health of Mr. Berry. With clarifications from a number of directions, however, things settled down.
And yet, here it is again. So during this meal I felt compelled to pull out my phone and search. To my surprise, I easily found a link to an essay ("Strangers in Out Midst: Catholics in Rural America" by Jeffrey Marlett) in the collection Roman Catholicism in the United States: A Thematic History, which referred to "radical agrarians like Passionist priest Wendell Berry." The complete volume was just published this year by Fordham University Press.
It remains a bit irksome that even now, a full decade after Fr. Berry's death, Mr. Wendell Berry is misidentified as a Catholic priest—though this may be the source of some chuckling among Mr. Berry, his wife Tanya, and their children and grandchildren. Oh well ... I offer this simple graphic: