Good Sams taking practical steps towards ecological conversion

BY Catherine McCahill sgs

Some of the 1300 new trees planted in the Biobank site. (Photo: The Good Oil)

Some of the 1300 new trees planted in the Biobank site. (Photo: The Good Oil)

“The whole creation has been groaning,” wrote the Apostle Paul some 2,000 years ago. Paul was undoubtedly writing of the completion of the redemptive act of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Today, this generation hears and feels that “groaning” in a new way, at a profound level. Our understanding of creation has exploded with the extraordinary advances in astronomy, physics and ecology. Our minds are stretched in the great cosmic reality that we know as God’s creation.

Our minds and our hearts do “groan” as we see and hear the devastating impact of human beings on this creation.

Four years have passed since Pope Francis wrote the unprecedented encyclical, Laudato Si’. Boldly and unequivocally, he called the entire human community to action on behalf of the environment. He named the sins that “destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation…causing changes in its climate… stripping the earth of its natural forests… destroying its wetlands… contaminat[ing] earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life.”

Erosion control in the Biobank site (Photo: The Good Oil)

Erosion control in the Biobank site (Photo: The Good Oil)

Some 20 months ago, we, the Good Samaritans in Chapter, committed ourselves to ecological conversion. It was a bold commitment, a challenge drawing us to a new asceticism; to change our daily practices; to read and reflect on the science, the theology and the spirituality; and to immerse ourselves deeply in God’s creation.

As another year passes by, we pause to reflect on what we have been doing, to celebrate the small steps of progress and to re-energise for the challenges ahead.

The most exciting, single project is the ecological restoration work on our property at Camden. Over 160 hectares of Cumberland Plain Woodland has been set aside and the original vegetation is being restored. As the vegetation is enhanced and feral animals eradicated, the native animals return. These are long-term projects. The initial Biobank Agreements with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage are for 20 years.

Thousands of trees have been planted on land previously cleared for farming. With careful nurturing they also are taking root. Around them, we are delighted with plenty of evidence of wombats and other native fauna.

The bearded dragon is becoming increasingly rare in western Sydney. (Photo: The Good Oil)

The bearded dragon is becoming increasingly rare in western Sydney. (Photo: The Good Oil)

Other aspects of our commitment to ecological conversion are less spectacular but, nonetheless effective. Our finance council is committed to sustainable investments, so we actively engage with investment managers to ensure that we “invest with companies that adhere to sound environmental, social and governance practices”. We seek out those companies that make a positive impact.

We are seeking ways to reduce our carbon footprint in various ways: replacing many face-to-face meetings with “zoom” meetings, installing solar panels on some of our community houses, and reducing our printed material. Many of us no longer use plastic bags or plastic wrapping material.

In our endeavours to respond to the crisis on our planet, we are mindful of many other similarly motivated groups. We participate in and support various other partnerships: Faith Ecology Network, Australia Religious Response to Climate Change, Pacific Calling Partnership and Pacific Climate Watch.

As a global family, we can be encouraged by so many women and men of our time who act for and against climate change. With courage and in hope, we endeavour to hear the cry of the earth, and to act boldly.

This is an abridged version of an article first published in The Good Oil, the E-News publication of The Sisters of the Good Samaritan. Read the full article here.