The Province of Mid-North America’s commitment to conserve water and to protect it from pollution continues. Since declaring 2018 as The Year of Water, Sisters in the province have focused on the precious resource. In fact, Los Angeles proved to be the ideal setting for conversations about water during its Spring Area Meeting in April.
California is just emerging from six years of widespread, serious drought. The National Integrated Drought Information System reports that abnormal dryness or drought continues to affect 80% of California’s population — nearly 30 million people.
The California drought, Flint, Michigan water crisis, and oil spills in waterways all highlight the many critical challenges to water supplies for Earth’s people, creatures and plants. Each call to conserve water is a particular wake up call to Good Shepherd, with our special focus on girls and women worldwide.
Girls and women have the closest relationship to water, often carrying it far distances for use in cooking, cleaning, bathing children, washing clothes and for sanitation.
Actions Sisters take to conserve water
In support of the rights of all people to clean water, Mid-North America Province Communities and individuals reported the following actions they are taking to conserve water and prevent water pollution:
- Cutting the number of showers; not watering lawns; comparing monthly water bills
- Making plans to get a water barrel; collecting run-off shower water or dishwashing rinse water to use for watering plants
- Buying efficient shower heads and using eco settings on dishwasher and washing machines
- Eliminating nitrate fertilizer and pesticides on lawns and gardens
- Reducing the use of plastic bags and avoiding water in plastic bottles
- Using Christmas money to help with the building of a water system for our Good Shepherd mission in Burkina Faso (money sent through the Good Shepherd International Foundation)
- Watching for and signing on to legislative actions through the National Advocacy Center network, which affect the environment, particularly water issues at both federal and state levels
- Praying for Care of the Earth, specifically for places like Cape Town, South Africa, where water shortage is critical
Day of reflection on water
Sisters Sharon O’Grady, Elizabeth Garciano and Silvia Romero and Mission Partner Jeanette McDermott attended a Day of Reflection on Water at Mercy Center in St. Louis.
Sr. Sharon O’Grady also attended the St. Louis Climate Summit in April. She and Jeanette attended a seminar with Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker on EcoSpirituality.
Jeanette and Sr. Janice Rushman will attend the Sisters of Earth Conference in Cincinnati in July. The issue to conserve water is paramount in each of these settings.
Jeanette represents Good Shepherd at the monthly InterCommunity Ecological Council meetings in St. Louis. She attended two author events in April that were focused on water and eco spirituality. One was with local authors of a book on changes to the landscape along the Missouri River as seen through the eyes of nine generations of children.
The other author event featured Jesuit priest activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee John Dear. Dear’s latest book, They Will Inherit The Earth, is about peace and nonviolence in a time of climate change.
Dear draws on the connection that Jesus makes at the start of his Sermon on the Mount between our practice of nonviolence and our unity with creation.
Dear says our rejection of nonviolence is inevitably linked to the catastrophic effects of climate change and environmental ruin.
Through personal stories of his life in the desert of New Mexico, his time as a chaplain at Yosemite, his friendship with indigenous and environmental leaders, his experience at the Standing Rock protests, as well as his work with the Vatican on a new stance on nonviolence, John Dear invites us to return to nonviolence as a way of life and a living solidarity with Mother Earth and her creatures.
Eco Zeal for Mission thanks everyone for their energetic commitment in our Year of Water.
What next? We encourage a focus on preventing the plastic pollution which plagues our oceans, kills sea life and rises on the food chain onto our dinner tables (see the United Nations website www.unenvironment.org).
We are excited to hear from you anytime and look forward to learning with and from you in the months ahead. Everyone is welcome to submit their reflections to Items of Interest for publication.