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Institute of the Americas June 2017 report

June 11, 2017

Mercy Sisters, lay associates and companions, co-workers, students, volunteers and friends stepped up their reflection on Laudato Si, integration of its challenges with their spirituality, and educational efforts and advocacy over the past few months.

Among the efforts were:
  • The Extended Justice Team committed at its meeting in fall 2016 to use Laudato Si as a framework for our activities over this year. That has included lifting up quotes from the encyclical in all of our communications on issues ranging from mining to climate change and immigration to healthcare.
  • Mercy International Reflection Process groups entered into the action phase of their work with activities that included protests of a local water-bottling plant in Connecticut, commitments to help clean up the Bay of Chimbote in Peru that had been polluted by fishing factories, commitments to join in the preservation efforts of an island in Long Island Sound, and the hosting of a one-day retreat on water in St. Louis.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Community continued its year-long examen on consumerism that includes daily praying of the mantra: “may I live gratefully and simply today” and reflections on personal needs and wants, our complicity in the global economic market and the impact on the environment of our consumer choices. You may find those reflections here.
  • Mercys prayed and acted in solidarity with Protectors of Mother Earth throughout the month of March. This included supporting a delegation from the Amazon region of South America in their visit to Washington, D.C., to call attention to the impact of mining in their communities. It also included joining the Standing Rock Sioux in a march in Washington, D.C. to call continued attention to their concerns about the Dakota Access pipeline; advocating for legislation named after martyr Berta Caceres that would pull back financial assistance to Honduras until the country resolves human rights abuses; and supporting educational and advocacy efforts of the Ngäbe people in Panama in their fight against a hydro-electric dam that would impact their cultural heritage. You may read here an article in Global Sisters Report on Mercy Sister Tita Lopez’s work with the Ngäbe on this issue.
  • Mercys walked in the Climate March in Washington, D.C. on April 29 and in other marches around the country for the climate and for science
  • A record number of Mercy advocates sent messages to President Trump and members of Congress expressing great dismay with the decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement and urging legislators to take leadership on that issue. Just about 2,000 messages went out collectively!
  • There has been continued resistance to the fracked gas power plant in Rhode Island. Legal steps are being taken against the Power Plant Company, Invenergy and against the Energy Facility Siting Board. The Sisters of Mercy joined every environmental group in the state of Rhode Island to publicly oppose the construction of the plant. Sisters of Mercy and others have a case with the Attorney General’s office about being closed out of a meeting where water, supposed to be used for the town’s needs, was sold to Invenergy. A judge is now ruling on the ethics of that decision. There is ongoing meeting and confrontation of public servants regarding the power plant and LNG. Many town hall meetings were held with Senators and Representatives. There is ongoing resistance against a proposed LNG storage tank in a low income neighborhood. A group has been formed to educate the public about the toxicity.
  • “Water is Life” protests and vigils have been held everywhere, including in Rhode Island at TD Bank and Citizens Bank, both financing the pipeline. Appeals to the Mercy Investment Service, that Mercys are banking in these banks, were ignored.
  • Ongoing calls for divestment from fossil fuels. Mercy Investment Services is always responsive to letters on this topic. We do not yet agree on the strategy. This will come up as a topic for discussion at our Chapter this month.
  • Mercy Environmental Guidelines and questions will also be brought up at Chapter.
  • Mercy Farm held its first Bio-Blitz at which all living creatures visible in a 24 hour period were counted. Experts in each area, birds, bats, insects, lunar moths, fungi, botany etc gave short talks and then took groups on hikes through the Farm where the living beings were then noted. The number of Bats have increased!

Submitted by Marianne Comfort and Mary Pendergast rsm