By Sr. Mary Isabel Kilpatrick, SNDdeN
When my ministry in Peru came to an end, I had the opportunity to participate in the Dominican Ecology Centre Sabbatical Programme in Wicklow, Ireland. The theme for the Programme was the “New Universe Story” and its implications for theology and spirituality in the light of the Pope Francis’ Encyclical: Laudato Sí, Care for our Common Home.
Being involved mainly in pastoral ministry, I had not paid much attention to such momentous issues as our 13.8-billion-year history of the Universe, our amazing evolutionary story and what this means in relation to our faith and spirituality. Coming from our beautiful country of Scotland, I do love the beauty and wonder of nature and all creation.
Laudato Si: Everything is Interconnected
For me, exploring the themes in Laudato Sí led me to a new understanding of our world, the universe, our connectedness with all creatures. I pondered on the pervasiveness of God’s goodness in all creatures and the wonder and mystery of this sacred presence since the beginning. Pope Francis says: “These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected…” (Cf Laudato Sí, #70)
The urgency of the future of our planet, also conveyed in Laudato Sí, compelled me to share some of this new story as best I could in Scotland. A technologically-skilled friend, Liz Snodgrass, whom I had known through the Justice and Peace Network, shared my enthusiasm for these issues. Together, we developed presentations for parish and community groups, people interested and concerned for our world and the future of our globe.
Challenges and Action
The challenge for Liz and for me was finding ways to reflect on the issues that would inspire and motivate, rather than leave people in the depths of despair at the global destruction and havoc, caused by us humans. For our presentations, we decided on three main themes:
* Who do we think we are?
* Where do we think we come from?
* Where do we think we are going?
Our problem in planning was not finding resources but adapting them to sessions suitable for a retreat day or evening of reflection time.
COVID-19 Interrupts Life
We managed to lead a number of sessions in parishes before the dreaded COVID-19 sidelined our efforts and closed down the possibility of physical meetings. We are most at home with face-to-face sessions for creativity, participation and special sharing that happens in a group where trust has been established. We had to adapt the material to offer on Zoom sessions. This online experience, though not ideal, resulted in access to different people and a wider more disparate audience through links with different networks. We were able to participate in Season of Creation Event organized by Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), and then gather followers for two further virtual sessions. Developing new topics, we plan to offer a monthly session.
Hope For Ministry
Since starting our project, we have become aware of many groups campaigning for Climate Justice, particularly in Scotland at this time preparing for the UN COP26 meeting to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. Our contribution is tiny but aims to enable deeper
reflection and love for creation, so to act out of a more positive
motivation for change and not just fear of impending doom!
We found inspiration through a process known as “The Work That Reconnects.” Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, in a book entitled, Active Hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy,” write: “Our focus is on how we strengthen and support our intention to act, so that we can best play our part, whatever that may be in the healing of the world.”
Our goal for this educational ministry, even during this global pandemic brings us and others hope in our connectedness for healing the world.
COP26 What is it?
The ‘twenty sixth conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’ (or COP26 for short) will take place at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow from November 1 –12, 2021 bringing governments from around the world together to discuss action on climate change. Since the first COP in Berlin in 1995 there has been slow and painstaking progress towards international agreement. Getting every country in the world to sign up to life changing commitments is not easy.
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