On September 30, 2022, around 200 SSpS participated in a session entitled Ecological Spirituality: Exploring an integral Ecological Vision.  The session was organized during the Season of Creation to help us deepen our commitment to implementing the seven goals of the Laudato Si Action Platform (LSAP) and to reflect deeply on the 15th General Chapter directions; ‘Awakened to the cry of the Trinity through the pain and suffering of Mother Earth and our sisters and brothers at the margins, ecological conversion and sustainable living become  our ethical imperative.’

As SSpS Mission Secretary, I organized and facilitated the session and I am truly grateful to the sisters for their interest and enthusiasm in participating in the session.

Our Congregational Leader Sr. Miriam Altenhofen, SSpS, in her welcome address, reminded the sisters of the serious implications of the climate crisis confronting us at this time with hurricanes, typhoons, wildfires, and droughts. She shared that the people with whom we work and our family members are facing the impact of the climate crisis. She reminded all that we need to learn anew to see ourselves as deeply connected and intertwined with Mother Earth. We are not “masters of” but “part of” and dependent on a healthy environment. If we destroy our Common Home, we destroy our very life subsistence.  She encouraged the sisters and SSpS mission partners to come together and do their part in caring for our Common Home.

Sr. Nellie McLaughlin, RSM, the main speaker, focused on exploring an integral ecological vision and our privilege and responsibility as human beings on Earth, our common home.  Some of the highlights of her presentation are as follows:

The story of the Universe, especially the mystery of our evolutionary journey and the wonder of creation, and the miracle of life of all human and nonhuman creation.  The elegance and complexity of this story were presented with images and rich reflections from various sources like Laudato Si (LS), scriptures, and scholarly writings.

The encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS 84) points out that ‘All life is sustained by the living systems of Sun, Water, Soil, Companionship. Everything is, as it were, a Caress of God.’ In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, ‘To live the cosmic life is to live dominated by the consciousness that one is an atom in the body of the mystical and cosmic Christ.’  Sr. Nelly stated that we have moved on from the old model of dominance and separation to interdependence and interconnectedness.

Interconnectedness brings with it a new understanding of nature, a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the web of life (LS 42, 68, 79, 240).  According to Anne Primavesi, “the environment is the reason we are alive. It is the reason God is ALIVE for us.  Take away the environment, and you take away God. It is physically impossible for us to encounter God elsewhere” (Faith in Creation 1995).

For SSpS, what does it mean that ‘it is time to come home’ in the face of climate change, warfare and displacement, hunger, exploitation, biodiversity loss, and COVID-19?  Considering the above-mentioned current reality, we are strongly urged to look deeply into it from various angles and identify possible signs of HOPE. Then ask ourselves what it might look like if we function at our best. Pope Francis, in the Laudato Si’ encyclical, reminds us that living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience (LS 217). All it takes is one good person to restore hope” (ls 71).

Dear friends, let each of us be that good person to restore hope. Let us remind ourselves of the saying of Helen Keller “Alone, we can do so much, together we can do so much more”.

Sr. Gretta Fernandes

 

Gretta Fernandes, SSpS, is the Mission Secretary of the Congregation in Rome and member of the Director Board of Vivat International.