Saturday, March 11, 2023

Earth Care and Climate Justice

by Sr. Marylou Rodriguez, CCVI
The Center for Women in Church and Society is in Elliot’s House of the Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.  Ms. Jackie Walter, the center’s director, aims to bring religious women to the center to talk about what different congregations are doing to tackle Climate Change.   One month prior, the group received reading materials about  Climate Justice which include the source and history of Climate Crisis, plastics,  sustainability, the CCVI-sponsored ministries, and other related ministries in response to the crisis.  It also contains the Incarnate Word Sisters’ personal and congregational accountability on lowering carbon emission. 

We started the workshop with a prayer for Climate Justice followed by music showing the beauty of creation.  The participants grouped themselves and came up with the names Tree Huggers, Care Bears, and Terra Firma.  Most of the students did not know Laudato Si but they care about the earth.  With this event, the students became aware of the urgency of the call to act on the crisis.  They were especially alarmed by scientific study on 2.8°C by the end of the century will lead to nearly 99% corals that will be gone and about 44% mammals will lose their habitat.  Too many people have the business as usual (BAU) attitude, have no radical actions to solve the crisis.  

Pax Christi’s Texas President Arthur Dawes invited the participants to go through the selected summarized points of the Laudato Si and to pick a word that touches them.  The Laudato Si sparks were home, plunder, deterioration, open heartedness, hope, nature, bond, toxic, circular, throwaway, discarded, loved, necessary, etc.  To read more on the Pax Christi’s summarized version of Laudato Si, please go to

We encouraged the students to check some of the nature-friendly opportunities in the area such as Headwaters volunteers, and tours with the Pax Christi, Sierra Club, etc.  

In the light of the 40 days of Lent, we asked them to write down 40 climate actions that they are willing to take part in.  The participants came up with the following list:

- No Fast-food, Cook for yourself, No coffee-takeout
- Dismantle, reuse broken machines
- Less buying                                             - No plastic straws   
- Borrow or rent books                              - Grow Garden, gardening      
- Walk or biker                                           - Upcycling                        
- Reusable dishware/ containers/ utensils  - Thrifting, Buy used clothes     
- Electronic bills                                         - Join an awareness group, educate   
- Beach pick-up                                          - Less laundry        
- East less meat                                           - Vegetarianism           
- Cage-free eggs (no GMOs)                      - Give unwanted gifts  
- Farmer’s market                                       - Decorate compost bins  
- Reusable cameras                                     - Carpool
- Turn off lights when not in use                - Plant trees           
- Get rid of invasive species                       - Use thermos for water  
LED Lights                                               - Use less electricity  
- Save water for plants                                - Use less phone  
- Recycle batteries                                       - Digital Work
- Buy biodegradable products                     - Pick up trash
- Digital Work                                             - Donate clothes
- Pass-me-downs                                         - Less driving                                               

The workshop was followed by an earth-friendly vegetarian pasta meal to enjoy the lovely evening while we continued light conversations on climate justice.  We cleaned-up the reusable dishware, glasses, and utensils, a true testament to what we are advocating for.

We ended the event with prayer of gratitude for graciousness of everyone’s presence, participation, and the awareness that we are all connected, and in need of each other to achieve the goal of healing the earth.

Genesis 1:31 “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.“

Friday, March 10, 2023

JPIC efforts & the better goal

According to our Constitution, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, “(we) are called to promote human dignity and to educate for social justice”. So, the International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Committee encourages us to respond with action, prayer, and education to the "cries of the poor and the earth", as Pope Francis said in the Laudato Si. Indeed, the calling of our Chapter in 2022 is to be “Presence and Communion.”  This calling has strengthened our desire to seek better ways to communicate and feel part of the same body. One of the actions in responding to that call is: "We will opt for the care of our Earth and its resources so that they are treated with the necessary respect; and sustainability is ensured for future generations." - Declaration of the Congregational Direction 2022 

The framework of our JPIC efforts are based in the Scriptures, Catholic Social Teaching, and our CCVI legacy. I invite you to watch The Story of Solutions as an illustration of what means to apply our framework.