Sr Mary Clare Mason dj, from the District England, helps us to reflect on how our Congregation’s commitment to integral ecology fits into a wider framework of concern for the future of Creation.
A call to share a vision of the world
The National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) in England, founded in 1978, is an organisation that welcomes all who share a vision of a world :
– in which people live in peace and harmony.
– where our common humanity is respected.
– Which enables all to contribute freely to the common good.
Hna Mary Clare Mason hj
The network’s motto, “Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with your God” from Micah 6,8, sits well with the charism of the Congregation but it was the theme of this year’s 45th annual conference at Swanick in the north of England that made me really sit up and take action.
Continuing the journey
Conference 2023, with its subtitle of “Survival or shutdown”, aimed to:
“continue the process of journeying in hope as we try to discern a more sustainable path to the future for all Creation.”
Given the reality of the current state of our planet, what challenges do we face? What informed choices do we need to make so that future generations may experience the beauty of creation and live secure and sustainable lives?
A call to action
The Acts of our General Chapter 2022 asked all of the Daughters of Jesus to commit themselves to integral ecology.
Being keen to discover what our small District England could do, despite having the majority of its Sisters in care, I decided to sign up!
We were around 150 participants, mostly lay people from 16 different dioceses, but also religious sisters from six congregations and priests from six missionary societies. as well as many representatives from organizations such as Missio, Pax Christi, the Laudato Si movement and the Archbishop Romero Trust.
Issues crucial to the common good and the well-being of the natural world were addressed by way of both keynote speeches and workshops.
One of the keynote speakers was Sir John Battle. A former Member of Parliament and Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Sir John is an NJPN patron and activist. His main message to us was the need to shift our orientation from giving to challenging the causes of injustice:
“We need to shift from charitable action to challenging the causes of injustice in line with the preferential option for the poor.”
This was also backed up by Christine Allen, Executive Director of CAFOD (the Catholic Association for Oversea Development). Speaking of CAFOD’s work with its worldwide partners to put the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals into practice, she pointed out that:
““work for justice is part of preaching the Gospel.”
In a third presentation, Brian O’Toole, Director of the Presentation Sisters Justiceand Peace Desk for Ireland and England. Outlining the Presentation Sisters’ commitment to “respond to the cry of the earth and to people kept poor”, he spoke of how they have embraced this by working on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by addressing such issues as women and children, care of creation and indigenous people so that “no one is left behind”.
Tools for action
Twelve workshops were organized during the weekend with the option of attending two. I opted to attend one on learning how to use the SDG’s when lobbying government ministers, either nationally or locally.
September will also see the international UN SDG Summit which must mobilise the political commitment and breakthroughs our world desperately needs. The NJPN conference showed how people of faith can support that process.
The second workshop, focused on water, presented us with ideas and materials on how to make parishes aware of the Season of Creation which runs from 1st September through to October 4th, the feast of St Francis. Not incidentally, the theme of this year’s event is “Let justice and peace flow”!
A message to share
Overall, I came away from the Conference with a message of HOPE. Along with the other participants, I was urged to BRING HOPE by advocating back in my Diocese, and my Congregation, for the political will to take human rights and sustainability more seriously.
Sr Mary Clare Mason dj
leader, District England