Sunday, October 11, 2020

Climate Reality Globally and Locally in San Antonio, Planting a "Compassion Tree" as a symbol of commitment

Overlooking the Headwaters of the San Antonio River, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, UIW President Dr. Thomas Evans, and others symbolically planted a "Compassion Tree"  as part o
f the city Compassion movement. See  They united with the global  Climate Reality Day,  October 10, 2020.  See and listen to the local ceremony in a film created by Alejandro DeHoyos. 

See and learn from the Countdown Global Launch, a call to action on climate change and the first-ever free TED conference, Oct. 10. Presented by TED and Future Stewards.  Concerned people from many countries were speaking including Pope Francis.  He has given an urgent invitation to all people to unite in care of creation in the face of climate change. His writing is call "Laudato Si"      

Dr. Thomas Evans and Mayor Ron Nirenberg with their shovels for the planting. 

Dr. Thomas Evans, the president of the University of the Incarnate Word, said: “I would like to thank the City of San Antonio, Mayor Nirenberg, and every organization here today for making this moment possible. At the University of the Incarnate Word, we are guided by a Mission to educate concerned and enlightened citizens within a global community. Here, young people, with boundless potential, discover some of the world’s most pressing needs and how they can contribute to their resolution. Stewardship of the Earth has long been a treasured value at UIW. Catholic Social Teaching tells us that we have a responsibility to love and protect creation. By doing so, we hold sacred that which God has given us and preserve it for future generations. Upholding and serving future generations is at the core of all we do and at the root of who we are.  We at UIW are blessed to work, live and learn closely with other ministries of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. From my office in the Student Engagement Center, I can look out onto the Chapel of the Incarnate Word, the Village at Incarnate Word, the Headwaters, and Brackenridge Villa. Every day, students walk these historic grounds – our Incarnate Word campus – and see the work and effort made by each ministry to live our shared values, to value nature, and today, to plant a compassion tree. What better way to teach sustainability than to model it? I am proud to have shared the stage today with leaders of so many organizations striving to do the same. I always say that though we at the University of the Incarnate Word are many parts, we are One Word. Today, we have shown that while each of us here come from many different organizations with many different goals, we are truly One in our love for our city, our Earth and those who do and will inhabit it. Thank you all for being here with us today. May the planting of this tree at the Headwaters be a symbol of our dedication to the care of creation and our commitment to instilling this value in every student of the University of the Incarnate Word.”  

Ruben Garza, Oscar Guerra, and Pedro Garza, of the UIW Grounds Department, not only do such a fine job taking care of the university trees, flowers, and landscaping on a daily basis, they assisted with this tree in the area of the Headwaters. 

Darshana Gupte, a Climate Reality Leader and a Chairwoman of San Antonio Chapter, said: " The Climate Reality Project was founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2006. Since then, he has trained over 31,000 Climate leaders in more than 170 countries worldwide. Today is a very special day for us, as it begins, 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future! A Day of Action! For 24 straight hours, Vice President Gore and his trained Leaders will lead Digital Presentations and Discussions across the planet.  They will explore the historic connection of Climate Change, COVID-19, and Systemic Racism that touch our lives. They will highlight, what we can do, to face these challenges and build the better future together? It is a Massive community event intended to foster an urgency to act and push through actions NOW. With the world asking what comes next, this year, we are partnering with the outstanding team of TED for Countdown- Turning Ideas into Action. Also, this year, Climate Reality Project will Plant a tree, around the globe, on behalf of each attendee of the Presentation at North American Branch-California; Africa Branch-Ghana; Canada Branch- British Columbia; Japan, china and Amazon Rainforest. Forests are not just trees; they provide food, water, livelihoods, and employment opportunities while capturing the Carbon from the air. They are imperative to the global ECO system. Locally, our SA chapter is partnering with Compassionate Tree Project to fulfill our Act of leadership & commitment to making San Antonio Green. So far, my team has already planted 239 trees and we are committed to do more. Finally, what do trees, bees, butterflies, and Climate Reality have in common? Well, they are all Nature’s Essential Workers!! So, in addition to this Ceremonial tree planting today, as climate conscious citizens of the world, let us vow to plant as many trees as possible in our lifetime and encourage our friends and family.  My special thanks to Ann Helmke for arranging such a wonderful event. Our host University of Incarnate word (UIW), President, faculty, ground staff and Sr. Martha her relentless work. Last but not least, Mayor Ron Nirenberg for his support and presence at this special event on October 10, 2020" 

Steve Lucke, a UIW graduate and leader of Gardopia Gardens, Dr. Chris Pierce, UIW Biology faculty, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, IW Sisters Justice, Peace, Creation Committee, James Riggin, a leader in the UIW Pre-dental Club which will care for the new "Compassion Tree"

Dr. Sally Said, secretary of the board of directors for Headwaters at Incarnate Word  explained that it is a non-profit Earth care ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. "It is responsible for a nature sanctuary of 53 acres adjacent to the UIW campus, including the Blue Hole Spring.  The Blue Hole because of its free-flowing spring, was the site of native encampments beginning twelve thousand years ago, according to archeological evidence, and Native groups continue to visit the spring, which they consider sacred, to this day.  During Spanish colonization from the early 18th century, acequias, stone-lined ditches, carried water from the Blue Hole and San Pedro Springs to the civilian community, the presidio, and the missions. After the Texas War of Secession from Mexico, ownership of the headwaters passed to the City of San Antonio, which sold the springs to city alderman J. R. Sweet.  Sweet sold the springs and adjacent land to George W. Brackenridge in 1869.  After the drilling of artesian wells made spring ownership less critical, Brackenridge sold some 283 acres, his Head of the River Estate, to the Incarnate Word Sisters in 1897. Today the Sisters retain about 155 acres, including the campus of UIW; the retirement community; land surrounding the Sister’s offices, chapel, and Brackenridge Villa; and the Headwaters Sanctuary. On July 22, 2020, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and Headwaters at Incarnate Word signed a conservation easement agreement with Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas.  The easement will preserve in perpetuity a 50-acre natural area encompassing the Headwaters of the San Antonio River and guaranteeing the continued existence of the only nature sanctuary in the urban core of San Antonio.  The tree planted today overlooks the Blue Hole, included in this easement."

Previously at Incarnate Word, the president Dr. Thomas Evans and his family had planted a "compassion tree" as a way of inviting all families and individuals to actively participate in the movement to re-green the earth. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

God's Creatures and Care of Creation, Presentations to Invite the World to "Climate Reality"

                                                  Evelyn Mantalvo and Sadie

In preparation for October 10, 2020, Climate Reality Day, University of the Incarnate Word  students shared an educational and prayerful program on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  Read about Climate Reality day internationally and in San Antonio, Texas. 

On or near October 4, since the mid-1970’s, at Incarnate Word College (now the University of the Incarnate Word), community members have gathered near the Headwaters to remember St. Francis of Assisi (1182 - 1226), patron saint of ecology, and to have a blessing of animals.  The pandemic kept people from gathering outside, but online connections made it possible for one of the founders of the tradition at Incarnate Word to virtually attend, Kim Brinster.  She now lives in New Zealand and shared stories of roosters on their island. This 2020 celebration in front of screens included guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and about 50 two legged creatures.  Students, families, friends, and retired faculty from New Mexico and around the San Antonio area came.   Yesenia Caloca and Alyssa Kennedy shared prayers. Sr. Martha Ann Kirk noted that while people were killing each other during the Crusades, Francis bravely went to the Muslim ruler to talk about stopping the violence. All  watched images and listened to song by her friends Jesse Manibusan and Bro. Rufino Zaragoza ofm. She had been invited to help them find pictures of peace makers.  "The Spirit of Assisi: We come only armed with love"  Can I learn to “come only armed with love”?    Am I willing to take down “the walls of hate and fear”?  To live with mercy and compassion so that peace can come? 

Kassandra Luna, a sophomore, majoring in Security Systems, said,  “The Blessing of the Animals and Celebration of Creation event brought me a few tears of joys. I am an animal lover, more towards dogs because they match my crazy energy. I loved seeing everybody's animals on screen, I honestly wanted to hug them because they were so cute.  I loved the way everyone was so proud to show off their animals as if they were their own children. The best part was when they acknowledged that were not perfect and that is what loved them even more.  I enjoyed the second part of the event because we were covering plastic pollution. We know that plastic pollution is a main contributing factor to the the destruction of our green planet so to see this organization bring awareness to the topics and give us the sources in order to participate in making a 180 is very inspiring.”

Louis P. Lubbering (1944-2020), beloved art teacher at IWHS and UIW, compassionately cared for God's creatures

Lauren Chavez, Sophomore, Nursing Major, noted that this was “such an inspiring event to attend. It was so nice to see every animal owner show off their beloved pet. You could really see in each owner’s eyes how much they loved and cared for their pet and how proud they were to show them off. Being able to pray and bless all of these animals was very special and I know it meant a lot to all the owners.  During the second half of the event, we were all able to share and learn about issues that are happening on our Earth. This was very eye-opening and gave everyone an opportunity bring awareness to these topics as well as learn about what we could do to help try and resolve these issues.”

Madison Tulaba, Junior, Theatre Arts Major, wrote,  “Getting to see so many animals grace my computer screen and their owners smiling faces was incredible. Hearing the stories and prayers shared at this event really meant a lot to me.  I learned a lot from this event. Being able to work with such a great team and learn more about plastic pollution was incredible. To be honest, I did not have much knowledge on plastic pollution beforehand so being able to do research on such an important topic helped me learn a lot more on how not only myself but others can help the earth. Hearing my fellow classmates presentations taught me a lot as well. I was excited to see what everyone had worked so hard on and learn more about sustainability.”

Maia Smith, a Sophomore, Nursing Major, wrote that the gathering “was a wonderful opportunity to spread love, educate each other, and do our part to protect our precious Earth. Seeing everybody's animals during the first half of the event brought a smile to my face during these uncertain times. It's hard not to feel joy when you see a happy animal being loved and cared for by a happy owner!  The second half of the event was very informative. I learned a lot about my group's topic, plastic pollution, through my research and the contributions of my teammates. Issues addressed by other groups included greenhouse gasses, energy conservation, and the declining polar bear population. It gave me hope to see so many people coming together to create a more sustainable future for all.” 


                                     Victoria Velasquez and her animal friend

Victoria Velazquez, a Junior Sociology Major, said, “The Blessing of the Animals and Celebration of Creation event was an incredible experience. I learned of the beauty there is in coming together in celebration and unity that left a lasting impact on me. This event was beautifully enriched with diverse forms of life and creation. There was a great deal to be appreciated. Within my group and others, there was an excellent conversational exchange to the various critical concerns impacting our Earth. Personally, the preparation involved in working with my group created an immense care and concern toward promoting sustainability for all creation. Having the opportunity to share on the topic of Earth justice related to plastic pollution cultivated a united effort. Specifically, it advocated for the sanctity of creation that could be achieved individually, locally, and globally. Additionally, the St. Francis of Assisi prayer was inspirational to reflect on each significant word that we so desperately need to embody in this critical time. It is essential to discover the ways we may work together toward a sustainable future.”

Evelynn Montalvo, a Sophomore who is majoring in Nursing Major, wrote, “I appreciated the opportunity as I got to see so many animals in loving homes, as well as the people that loved them. Getting to view the value people give to their pets made it more apparent that life is something we should treasure and celebrate. I enjoyed first being able to see the community connect with one another over the things we love, then getting to put all of that into perspective during the second half of the event when everyone got a chance to hear about global crises affecting all of us. It was nice to see that so many people showed up to the event. The large group that gathered with us on October 4th showed me that people still care and are willing to listen and educate themselves. There was a great sense of unity, and unity is something we will certainly need as we tackle to issues discussed during the second half of the event.”

Alyssa Kennedy had spoken of and shown her dog Gabbi who had medical challenges and could barely use her legs.  The gathering ended with an inspiring film of Gabbi’s friends and how people love and care for dogs who are differently abled

Brittany Edwards explained their group's presentation, “The Earth is continuously warming and with this, marine life is dying, pollution is rising, and only so much is being done to address this advancement. The Cypress Creation Community focused our initiative on Greenhouse gas emissions, their impact on the atmosphere in local and global aspects, and what can be done to improve the quality of the air that we breathe. Climate equity is an ever-present topic in our communities, and it is a primary area of concern in our city's climate action plan and efforts to positively impact our environment will cultivate a healthier future for generations to come.”

Safietou Dorsey noted, “Our presentation was about ocean conservation. Our oceans sustain life and it is our duty as people to preserve them. Currently, with climate change and global warming as a direct result of pollution, we have seen a drastic change in Ocean life. It is important to promote ocean sustainability and eliminate the problems that are negatively affecting our oceans.” Their group recommends    and,get%20caught%20in%20plastic%20litter  and

Maia Smith said, “We researched plastic pollution, specifically single-use plastics. We emphasized the issues of mass production and wasteful packaging and stressed the importance of government action in addition to individual choices. We explained the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act and encouraged individuals to contact their representatives.” The recommend: Summary of the 2020 Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act:  Letter of Support:    Single Use Plastics: 

Evan Rey Santos said, "The Willow group had the honor of sharing the seriousness of energy conservation, especially in the United States. Not only does saving energy save money, but it also protects the environment we all live in. We exposed how our main sources of energy aren’t renewable and how we, the human race, should consider the needs of future generations. Our team’s presentation brought to light several easy ways we can be energy efficient, either at home or on the road. The website below offers reasons homeowners should look at energy efficiency. If you still need some more convincing on why conserving energy is crucial to sustainability then this is the source for you.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Resources - Reflections | Our Citizenship

Here are some resources that can help us in our reflections on the upcoming elections in the United States. 

Towards a More Perfect Union: 2020 Election Reflections by LCWR.  As women religious, we are called to bring our faith and our voices to the public square. While that is a daily responsibility, our presence and voices have never been more needed. How do we even begin to create communion in the face of a divisive climate in a polarized society? How do we enter into dialogue when so much of the public conversation about policy and politics, the direction of our country, and the 2020 election is filled with anger and disrespect? How can we possibly contribute to the work of building “a more perfect union"? We believe that LCWR’s challenge to contemplative dialogue, deep listening and mutual respect are the prophetic actions that we can offer in these difficult days of discernment. We invite you to join LCWR on a journey of faith and dialogue over a period of eight weeks as we explore some principles of our faith and ideals of our democracy by participating in three ways.

1. Pray with the weekly reflections that are available for download below.

2. Gather groups of sisters, friends, colleagues, or neighbors for some virtual conversation about the state of our democracy. Stretch beyond your comfort zone. Invite those who don’t normally sit around your table. The greater the diversity, the more fruitful the dialogue. As you develop your groups and consider your guest lists, it may be helpful to consider some of these questions:

Whose voices are we including? Whose are missing from the table? Who else should be invited to the conversation? Are we hoping to facilitate greater understanding, or simply convince others of the rightness of our positions? What will help us center the human dignity of each person and deescalate the situation when we feel ourselves become tense?

3. Capture stories of what occurs as you have these conversations. How is your conversation impacting the lives of those participating? What change has occurred within your local area or city as a result of the dialogue you are hosting? (We will provide more information on what do with these stories.)

In a document that can be downloaded below are resources prepared by other organizations including voters’ guides, strategies for resisting voter suppression, civility pledges, and voter registration and “get out the vote” materials.


PDF icon 11.03.20 Election Day

PDF icon 10.27.20 Love

PDF icon 10.20.20 Contemplative

PDF icon 10.13.20 Common Good

PDF icon 10.06.20 Stitching

PDF icon 09.29.20 Soulful Politics

PDF icon 09.22.20 Shared Heartbreak

PDF icon 09.15.20 Out of Many One

PDF icon Election Resources - updated 09.09.20 

PDF icon 2020 Voter Guide - LCWR Region 7 

Monday, October 5, 2020

San Antonio Challenges of Discrimination, Poverty, Education, Health Care, Environment, and Immigration Revealed in Murals


                                                                                                                                                                  San Antonio challenges of discrimination, poverty, education, health care, environment, and immigration are revealed in murals in west side San Antonio.   Community members compassionately and creatively tell their stories.  San Anto Cultural Arts Center has led people to gather and to create.  The problems are not unique to San Antonio.  When the U.S. is compared to other countries through the Social Progress Index, national weaknesses are apparent. As people learn of weaknesses, they can improve. This is a time of opportunity for improvement. 

 A graduate of Incarnate Word High School, Adriana Garcia, created two of the murals shown in this 12 minute film, "Brighter Days," and "De Todos Caminos Somos Todos Uno" in English, "From All Roads We Are All One."   She was selected and recognized as part of the Americans for the Arts 2019 Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review (50 projects were selected out of 361). The mural is part of  the San Pedro Creek improvements project.

 Arts have been an important part of education in Incarnate Word schools. Sister Maria del Socorro Lazo, CCVI, (1893-1956) from Chihuahua, Mexico, started teaching at Incarnate Word College in 1941. She was highly respected as an outstanding artist in Texas.  

Friday, October 2, 2020

Vow of nonviolence

Our Congregation, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, signed up to the 'Call to Nonviolence and Just Peace' in 2017, committing ourselves to promote the understanding and practice of active nonviolence on the path to just peace, with a desire to be authentic disciples of Jesus, challenged and inspired by stories of hope and courage. During 2017 the Sisters reflected on the culture of peace and nonviolence, and one of the first actions they took through their Life and Mission Groups was their vow of nonviolence. Today, on the International Day of Nonviolence, we invite you to make and/or renew your vow of nonviolence.

We offer this as a focus for prayer and reflection to help individuals and communities affirm their intention / commitment to live a nonviolent life. It was created in the United States by Eileen Egan and Rev. John Dear. It can be used privately, with a local peace community, as part of a parish liturgy, or any other way that suits you. Many have used the prayer at the start of each year as part of their New Year observance.


Recognising the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God... You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”

by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;

by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence; by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;

by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;

by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it. 


Renovando nuestro voto de no violencia:

Congregación, Hermanas de la Caridad del Verbo Encarnado, firmó su adhesión al 'Llamado a la No Violencia y Paz Justa' en el 2017, comprometiéndose a promover la comprensión y las prácticas de la no violencia activa en el camino hacia la paz justa, con el deseo de ser auténticas discípulas de Jesús, desafiadas e inspiradas por los relatos de esperanza y valentía. Durante este año las Hermanas reflexionaron sobre la cultura de paz y la no-violencia, y una de las primeras acciones que realizaron a través de sus Grupos de Vida y Misión fue su voto de no violencia. Hoy en el Día Internacional de la No violencia, te invitamos a realizar y/o renovar tu voto de no violencia.

Ofrecemos esto como un recurso de oración y reflexión para ayudar a los individuos y comunidades a afirmar su intención y compromiso de vivir una vida no violenta. El texto integro del voto fue creado en los Estados Unidos por Eileen Egan y John Dear. Puede ser usado en privado, con una comunidad de paz local, como parte de una liturgia parroquial, o de cualquier otra manera que le convenga. Muchos han usado la oración al comienzo de cada año como parte de su observancia de Año Nuevo.


Tomando conciencia de la violencia que existe en mi corazón, y reconociendo la bondad y misericordia de Dios, por un año entero prometo de seguir la noviolencia de Jesús que nos enseñó en el Sermón de la Montaña:

“Bienaventurados los que trabajan por la paz, porque serán llamados hijos de Dios...Habéis oído que se dijo: Amarás a tu prójimo y odiarás a tu enemigo. Pues yo os digo: Amad a vuestros enemigos y rogad por los que os persigan, para que seáis hijos de vuestro Padre celestial”.

Prometo poner en práctica en mi vida, el amor y ejemplo de Jesús:

Esforzándome para tener la paz interior y buscando ser un trabajador de la paz en mi vida cotidiana;

Rechazando reaccionar ante provocaciones y violencia, perseverando en la noviolencia de la palabra y del corazón;

Viviendo en forma consciente y simple sin privar a otros de los medios para sobrevivir;

Resistiendo activamente al mal y trabajando de forma noviolenta para abolir la guerra y las causas de la guerra de mi corazón y de la faz de la Tierra.

Señor, confío en el sostén de Tu amor y creo que de la misma manera en que Tú me diste la gracia y el deseo de ofrecer este voto, así me darás la gracia necesaria para realizarlo.