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MGA Cosmology/Eco-Justice Committee Report from Australia and Papua New Guinea, June 2017

June 14, 2017

The activities in Australia and Papua New Guinea include the following:

  • In November 2016, the Institute Leadership Team launched the Institute Sustainable Living Policy – an integrated approach to sustainable living. The aim of the policy is to achieve sustainable living across seven key areas – energy, water, waste, transport, procurement, investment and infrastructure. Personnel and ministry partners across ISMAPNG are responsible for developing measurable targets which align with some or all of the objectives, as appropriate for their operations. The policies, programs and procedures may relate to Activities and Operations, Education and Formation and/or Advocacy. An Environmental Sustainability Project Manager has been employed to assist with the implementation of the policy. The Institute’s Ecology Centre – Rahamim - is providing education programs to support the implementation strategies.
  • As part of its energy saving program, the Institute is planning to install solar panels on as many Institute properties as possible. There is also a plan to change all existing lights with LED lights.
  • The National Mercy Health System has been working on a document for the past twelve months, developing the approach it intends to take across all Health and Aged Care facilities and Agencies to respond to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato ‘Si Care for Our Common Home. The objectives of the Approach are:

      1. Raising individual and organisational awareness
      2.Gathering data & establishing a reporting framework
      3.Building Connections
      4. Empowering the Encylical
      5. Education and Transforming our people
      6. Evaluating & Reflecting

  • Sisters in South Australia have participated in a successful campaign to stop a nuclear waste dump being developed in that State.
  • Sisters in Queensland have been active in opposing the development of the gigantic Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin by Adani, which threatens part of the Great Barrier Reef. One of the four big Banks has effectively ruled out financing Adani under a new Climate Change Policy. However, the company does have support from some sectors of the community and will continue to seek financial backing elsewhere. So this issue is still alive, as jobs take precedence over environmental concerns for many people.

    Sisters in South Australia have invited Catholic Earthcare – The National Catholic Environmental Organisation in Australia – to screen the film “Guardians of the Galilee” in Adelaide. The first screening is to be on Thursday 15 June. The Great Barrier Reef is of interest to all Australia, so many Sisters around the country have been part of these education and advocacy projects.
  • In Victoria, Sisters are involved with Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, doing awareness-raising and advocacy.
  • Elaine Wainwright rsm, Australian Biblical Scholar and Director of ISMAPNG Mission and Ministries Unit launched her new book in December 2016 entitled Habitat, Human and Holy: An Eco-Rhetorical Reading of the Gospel of Matthew. This book is part of the Earth Bible Project directed by Professor Norman Habel and offers an approach to reading the scriptures anew in light of and engagement with the current ecological crisis.
  • Individual Sisters continue to raise awareness of the wonder of an unfolding universe and an evolving planet, as well as the threats facing the planet from human activity, through Earth rituals, sustainability workshops, Earth-based retreats, eco-spirituality and book reading groups.
  • Recently there was an excellent TV series on Waste which sparked some excellent sharing and discussion across the Institute ecological conversion email network.
  • Three Sisters in Victoria are members of Catholic Earth Care Ballarat and one is on the Advisory Council of Catholic Earthcare Australia.
  • At a local level, there is a significant project underway in Bathurst NSW where the habitat of the kangaroo population on Mount Panorama/Wahluu – home to an International Car Racing Circuit – has been encroached on by expansion of the car racing precinct, raising the risk of kangaroos and cars coming into contact during races. Instead of a proposed culling by shooting, local environmentalists have mounted a major relocation project, darting then moving almost five hundred kangaroos to an alternative safe location. The education and advocacy associated with this project – the first of its kind known – was massive. Rahamim staff played an active role in this project.
  •  In August 2017, the first ISMAPNG Chapter will take place, so we are in preparation mode. This Chapter will elect new leadership. A concept paper on leadership we have been discussing emphasises that the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor are at the heart of our call to mission and will be central in our discernment of leadership into the future. It also acknowledges the wisdom emerging from our society that sees leadership as attentive to Earth. There is a sense that ecological conversion is quietly happening among the Mercies and their partners in Australia.

  Messages to: Patricia Powell rsm