About Cathleen

My life’s work is a braid: literary and academic, parish ministry, prairie restoration efforts.

Literary and Academic 

After a Creative Writing B.A., I earned an M.A. in Modern English Literature at Exeter University in England, where my focus was the literary devices used by C.S. Lewis and G.K Chesterton to portray religious experience. I also became fascinated with Henry James’ multivalent use of pronouns. However, while skiing in the Alps on winter holiday, I came to peace with my calling to the Episcopal priesthood, and went home to America. I returned to literary studies and to writing, earning an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Environment through Iowa State University’s cutting edge cross-disciplinary program. I also served as Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Waldorf University teaching biblical literature as well as honors and English courses in which prairie restoration, plains writers, and George Harrison of Beatles-fame were given attention. In 2018, I was honored as Faculty of the Year.

Prairie Restoration and Advocacy

As I was born in Denver, Colorado, the Rocky Mountains and the Kansas wheat farm of my father’s family shaped my ecological and aesthetic sensibilities and deeply impacted my spiritual life. I fell in love with the tallgrass prairie when I served as Episcopal Chaplain at Kansas State University and our young family lived on an acreage in the Flinthills  – site of the only substantial remnant of what was once North America’s largest ecosystem.

 

Oddly, this connection to prairie returned in downtown Des Moines. Witnessing the devastation of constant flooding in Iowa due to the loss of wetlands and prairie, cathedral leaders transformed our dilapidated asphalt parking lot into an urban greenspace that both highlights beautiful native species and keeps 12 swimming pools of water a year out of the Des Moines storm sewers and river.


Polk County named us Urban Stewards of the Year in 2012 for the project. I now direct Iowa Creation Stewards which plants Postage Stamp Prairies on church land and gathers citizens to address local environmental concerns.

I was appointed to the National Episcopal Church legislative committee on Creation Stewardship for the General Convention of 2018, and was named to a three-year term on the Episcopal Church's Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism.

As Bishop in Kansas, creation care in Prairie preservation and restoration remain important priorities. See current activities on this website under witness

I am married to Tim Bascom, author of five books and literary companion. See Tim's books here. We have two sons, Conrad, age 27, and Luke, age 23. I like to garden, cross country ski, travel, and enjoy the blessings of family and friends.

Parish Ministry

 I was ordained and consecrated as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas on Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Grace Cathedral, Topeka. The chief consecrator was Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Ordained in Chicago in 1990, I have adored the multi-faceted, meaningful life of an Episcopal priest for over 29-years. I served as Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Des Moines, Iowa. Creative vision and collaborative leadership included sacramental care, preaching, and civic partnerships around environmental issues, food security, and flood recovery. This experience is the basis for Of Green Stuff Woven.