World Environment Day - 5 June 2014

  • Photo by Rose Gichangi rscj (UGK)
On Sunday morning, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, preached the homily at the Ascension Day Mass at Caravita Oratory, Rome. He said, “Jesus still bears the wounds of his Passion at the Ascension and he takes those wounds to his Father’s side … He introduces us to the Father still bearing those wounds.” 
What has this to do with World Environment Day? The image of woundedness is connected to a very recent experience described in a letter to the province from the ‘Wisdom Generation Group’ in the Uganda-Kenya province, (repeated here with permission):
“When the Wisdom generation group met with Kathy Conan and Cath Lloyd (during their recent visit to the province of UGK) they put a challenge to us. They asked if we, as Wisdom group, could address “the wounds of the body” of the Province in terms of formation and cosmic spirituality.  Subsequent to our meeting with Kathy and Cath, we met to look at the challenge that was given to us. What is happening in our own body, the body of the Province, is also reflected in what is happening to the earth.  We can be negative, indifferent, or lack awareness of the impact of our actions, or lack care and respect with regard to one another.  Surely there is a relationship between the ways we are with one another and the way we are with creation. As we grow in our respect and care for one another, in being women of reconciliation, we will grow in our care for all of creation, and vice versa.
We need to reflect on our lives and see how we can become more caring people – this is a long range challenge for us.  In addition we focused on a couple of practical points on which to educate ourselves: 
Firstly, the dangers to health and the environment of plastics.  
Burning plastic is dangerous to the health of people, and the environment. When burning plastic, chemicals including dioxins and furans are released and these have been linked to cancer and respiratory diseases. 
Plastic bags and bottles litter our villages and cities and end up in drainage channels, natural water courses, manholes, undeveloped plots and on the roadside. They make the soil unfit for agriculture.  Plastic takes 400 years or more, depending on the type of plastic, to degrade.. 
With regard to this problem, I have looked up information on places that recycle plastics. I’ve found a place in Kampala which recycles plastics and attach information on this. I would be grateful if someone in Kenya could let me know of a place/places there where our Sisters can take plastics for recycling. 
Secondly, the destruction of the environment caused by cutting down trees for wood burning and charcoal.  
We are using wood at a faster rate than it is growing back with the result that forested land is shrinking rapidly.  Deforestation is reducing the earth’s natural ability to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air – a condition that contributes to global warming.
We have downloaded some information on some of the many ways that planting trees helps the environment and attach this.  
We would like to ask our communities and the institutions that we administer to choose a day each year for planting trees/fruit trees.  
We hope you can join us in this effort to be more consciously caring for our environment.  We would love to hear of the ways you are implementing the above and would also appreciate any further ideas/suggestions you may have.”
What I learned about World Environment Day from the UGK Wisdom Group’s response to their challenge is this: our spirituality which is so centred on the wounded Heart of Jesus, is also about the wounds of our earth. As RSCJ we are called to be women of reconciliation and to educate about our care for creation. And in all of that we have the reassurance referred to by Cardinal Turkson, that God knows our wounds through Jesus and is with us in our efforts to transform our world.
Good wishes to the Wisdom Group of Uganda-Kenya in their inspirational call to their province. Good wishes too, for all the prayer and action that is taking place around the world in honour of World Environment Day.
Anne Corry rscj
JPIC Coordinator