The first meeting of the Congregational Care of the Earth was held at Caritas, Sandymount from 18th to 22nd August. The five Coordinators from the Regions and Provinces were present Sr. Mary Zimba, Zambia/Malawi; Sr. Helen Eluagu, Nigeria; Sr. Madeleine Meagher, California; Sr. Mary Judge, Ireland; Sr. Patricia Byrne, England/Scotland; along with Sr. Mairéad Ní Chuirc from the General Leadership Team. Sr. Nellie McLaughlin, RSM facilitated.
The meeting started with an opening ritual and the Team blessed itself with water and broke open some seed pods. A prayer was recited to invoke our ancestors and mother earth. Each participant then indicated their expectations for the meeting which included:
- To come up with a statement on the Care of the Earth
- To come up with a plan of action
- To get some materials to help us in our education and awareness raising.
During the meeting we had opportunities for sharing, discussions, watching videos, walking and praying outdoors to connect with the universe. As a team given the mandate by the congregation to do something on care of the earth, the Team came up with a policy statement and a plan of action which will be sent to all the members of the Congregation by Sr. Mary Christian.
I found the meeting very educative, inspiring and I have received helpful tools and materials to use as I advocate for the Care of the Earth.
Some of the learnings that impressed me include:
We are closely connected with the whole universe, we have the same DNA as all other creatures. We are the last arrivals! We are all connected. We are all family.
People need a story that will bring personal meaning together with the grandeur and significance of the universe (Thomas Barry).
Laws of nature and laws of the universe. Everything renews itself- nature does that.
We don’t die of anything we die into. STORY is evolving: Everything with BIG BANG: - fourteen billion years ago, started with a pin prick of energy.
We spent some time considering the three Principles of the Universe noted by Thomas Berry:
- Diversity - No two beings in the whole universe are exactly the same
- Interiority - Every being in the universe has an interiority, e. g. birds or plants and has a right to be.
- Communion - To exist at all is to exist in communion.
The Encyclical Laudato Si and the call to conversion also featured in our discussions and had an impact on our Congregational Statement.
Mary Aikenhead saw the poverty of her day and did something. Today she would see the state of the environment and do something. Our team will be inviting every sister to enter into dialogue with us about how together we can Explore what it means to be in Right Relationship with Planet Earth. This will call us to some or all of the following actions:
Reuse - Repair - Reuse - Recycle - be Responsible
Respect: Life as a Gift, oneself, other people, earth, all species, property, land.
Reduce: energy consumption, use of fossil fuels, waste, travel, stress.
Repair: clothing, footwear, electrical appliances, buildings, cars, property
Reuse: bags, boxes, clothing, bottles, toys, decorations, envelopes, wrappings
Recycle: organic waste, fruit & vegetable peelings (compost), clothes, books, everything possible that can no longer be used in its present condition.
be Responsible: for the well-being of all life in use of earth’s abundant but finite resources and management of waste.
We look forward to moving together as a Congregation over the next year to finding ways to improve our care for Earth.
Sr. Mary Zimba