Sisters of St Joseph of Peace
Nearly 40 Sisters of St Joseph of Peace (CSJP) and associates have gathered in London this week from the United States, Haiti, El Salvador and Britain to explore their mission of Peace and Care for Creation. On Saturday, their meeting - at St Katherine’s Centre, Limehouse - was facilitated by Edward and Barbara Echlin of Christian Ecology Link and Ellen Teague of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation Team and Chair of the National Justice and Peace Network Environment Group.
‘Peace and God’s Earth’ was the title of a talk given by eco-theologian Edward Echlin, where he lamented that “it is quite clear that humans are destroying the Earth and the future”. He suggested that a “commitment to economic growth” by politicians and economists is part of the problem and he urged wariness about the new term of “sustainable growth”. Groups which focus on alternative economics, such as the New Economics Foundation, were recommended. “Earth illiteracy” was seen as one reason why so few Catholics engage with environmental issues such as Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss on land and in the seas, and Food Sovereignty. He urged Christians to revisit the issue of simpler lifestyles and self-sufficiency, to move away from an oil-based lifestyle, and undertake food gardening, supporting local environmental initiatives such as farmers’ markets. In front of him was a Hubbard squash plant from the Echlin’s organic garden, which he gave to one of the sisters at the end of the day.
Ellen Teague spoke on ‘The Catholic Social Justice Programme and Peacemaking Action’, focusing more on Advocacy, and the building of peace through social and environmental justice. She showed photos of Church initiatives making links between issues - such as Climate Change, Desertification and Conflict - and stressed that action usually emerged from the pastoral cycle process of Experience – Social Analysis – Theological Reflection – Action. Ecumenical initiatives, such as Operation Noah, were explored and prophetic movements challenging the existing paradigm of development - such as the ‘Occupy’, ‘Transition’ and ‘World Social Forum’ movements. She felt these could be accessed best through new social media, particularly Twitter. The National Justice and Peace Network has explored Creation Theology as a context to the mission to care for Creation, and the sisters agreed that Pope John Paul’s words of 2001 should be acted upon, that “one must promote and support ecological conversion”. The gathering enjoyed a video clip of a protest in May at the Korean Embassy in London where CSJP sisters joined Pax Christi, Columbans, Catholic Workers and secular environment and peace organisations to try and halt a nuclear base being built on the Korean island of Jeju which is destroying the rich natural resources of the area and raising tensions in the region.
The gathering went on, in subsequent days, to visit the Wetlands Centre in Barnes and the Catholic Worker Farm in Hertfordshire. They will also be spending a day focusing on ‘Human Trafficking’. The Sisters of St Joseph of Peace were founded in 1884 in the Diocese of Nottingham by Margaret Anna Cusack (Mother Clare), to further the work of peace in the family, church and world. As a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) at the United Nations, the CSJP supports the UN’s work, particularly achievement of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
For more information see: http://www.csjp.org