Each February, Notre Dame de Namur University remembers its most famous alumna: Sr. Dorothy Stang, an environmental activist who was shot to death February 12, 2005, in Brazil. This year, the commemoration on the Belmont, California, campus had fresh grief to process.
Contrary to what is stated in Laudato Sí, I don't see a "lack of interest" — in me or in anyone else in seeking solutions to the environmental crisis. What I see and experience is a sense of powerlessness, a feeling of being overwhelmed, a fear of being swallowed alive by forces far beyond what the average person can control.
After the Cold War, Catholic sisters and peace activists never entirely dropped the issue of nuclear disarmament. But now, rising international tensions and the election of Donald Trump have renewed worries about the proliferation and the nuclear threat to life on Earth.
"We have a president-elect who doesn't have a basic understanding of the role the environment plays in sustaining all of life," says Adrian Dominican Sr. Pat Siemen. Her community and others are prepared to mobilize their women religious to resist.
The olive trees on the Mount of Olives next to Jerusalem's Garden of Gethsemane stand gnarled and silent, their knobby trunks reaching out of the rocky hills, a testament to thousands of years of careful cultivation in one of the holiest spots on Earth. This four-acre olive grove belongs to the Benedictine Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary, who have inhabited this old stone convent for the last 120 years and are looking to solve part of their municipal water bill with ancient technology.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! So begins Psalm 84, a favorite of our community's founder, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli. As the story goes, he prayed this psalm at the dedication of every church he helped build on the American frontier — and he built a lot of them. In his final days, he again found solace in reciting the familiar words.
In early November, Lakota Sioux Therese Martin celebrated her 100th birthday in the crowded parish hall at Fort Yates, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. To all gathered she said, "To see my people standing up for our rights, makes me so proud. Whenever I read about the water protectors at the camps along the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers, I pray they fight to the bitter end."
In my formation in religious life, we were taught to reach out with kindness to those who opposed us or with whom we disagreed. We were taught to build bridges as Jesus did. In my ministry on behalf of LGBT people and in my church reform work, I have interacted with traditionalists on a number of occasions. Each time I try to talk about what we have in common that unites us. That's how I feel we can begin to build bridges.
More than 500 clergy and people of faith across religious denominations joined the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and its supporters against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Several weeks ago I had one of those bad days. Or, maybe it was an accumulation of a number of bad moments and days accumulated throughout a long, hot summer. Difficult moments that continue to sit in the pit of one's stomach even after prayer or meditation.
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