November 29, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – In our time of ecological crisis, human beings are called to transform the way they view creation and to become more deeply connected to creation, one another, and themselves. This was the urgent message of a panel of speakers from the Center for Earth Ethics, who spoke at Weber Center November 27.
“The Vision: Sustained Well-Being of People and Planet,” was presented by Karenna Gore, Director of the Center for Earth Ethics; Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, scholar-in-residence; and Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz, Director of the Center’s Original Caretakers Initiative. The talk was sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Siena Heights University.
The Center for Earth Ethics, located at Union Theological Seminary in New York, works toward a vision of “a world where value is measured according to the sustained well-being of all people and our planet.” Its mission is carried out through four programs: Eco-ministry; Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement; Original Caretakers, supporting the learning from Indigenous peoples; and Sustainability and Global Affairs.
Sister Sharon Weber, OP, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Siena Heights University, facilitated the evening. She introduced Sister Anele Heiges, OP, a member of the Center for Earth Ethic’s Board, who invited the panel to speak on the Adrian Dominican campus. Sister Anele noted that the Center was begun in 2015 – a year before the Congregation’s General Chapter, which has called for the Congregation to “sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”
“We’re kind of beginning together to carry forward on what we said,” Sister Anele said. “The question that we’re all asking is, ‘Can we come to understand true systemic change and can we renew the original thinking of Earth and universe to get to a whole new way of being?’ We have to get there.”
Karenna picked up on that theme in her talk. She spoke of “moments in history where humanity faces moral crises, and there are prophetic voices and … people willing to put their whole lives on the line to listen to the call to what is moral and right. We at Union now feel that we’re in such a time.”
Many Americans are coming to a “greater realization” of how to protect the planet, while at the same time, Karenna said, “we are on a trajectory of deregulating pollution, of going in the opposite direction.” She noted that the United States is the only nation not signed onto the 2015 Paris Accord, which calls the nations to work to keep their carbon emissions low.
She praised science for the advancement it has brought to fighting disease and revealing the mysteries of the world, while also questioning the frequent separation of science from the spiritual component of life. This is especially ironic, Karenna said, since the loudest voices against climate change are “indigenous spiritual leaders and Western scientists.” Both groups often work against the current environmental degradation “from the same reverent observation, in some cases, of what is in the natural law.”
Karenna also addressed the apparent divide between Christianity and reverence for creation. She noted a 1967 article by Lynn White, “The Roots of our Ecological Crisis,” in which he noted that the major psychic revolution in history was the victory of Christianity over paganism. That brought about a “desacralization of the natural world,” Karenna said. Critics of Christianity, however, often overlook “the beautiful traditions of connectedness to nature” found in the teaching of Jesus; other areas of Scripture, such as Genesis; and Christian writings today, including Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Sí.
Finally, Karenna noted the “economic development paradigm” that measures development from the perspective of monetary gain – and sees nature as property that can be used and even destroyed at the whim of those who believe they own it. But the world has to be valued in other ways as well, she said. In this time of the “sixth extinction,” with a great loss of biological diversity, she noted the significance not only of the larger mammals, such as elephants and whales, but of the many “tiny little bugs and species everywhere that are holding together this web of life” – and are very quickly going extinct.
Mindahi, a member of the Otomi-Toltec-Mexican original peoples, focused on the world’s need to reclaim the wisdom of the Indigenous cultures, many of whom are going extinct, just as animal species are. He noted that we in the 21st Century are not living better than our ancestors. This is especially true in large cities, where “the water we drink is not safe, the energy that we use is not clean, and the soil of the Earth is not green.”
“Actually, with science and technology, we are facing extinction,” Mindahi said. “What we need is reason. You need information. You need knowledge. But you need to know how to use that knowledge, so we need wisdom.” As original care-takers of Earth, he said, Indigenous peoples are “bringing this knowledge, this wisdom, for change in our world.”
Mindahi spoke of the role of Houses of Original Thinking to help people of today to recover wisdom and the ancient sense of connection to creation. Houses of Original Thinking offer places where people can gather to discuss the interconnection of humanity with the rest of creation and help in the transformation of human understanding of this connection.
“In Houses of Original Thinking, there’s a place for change,” Mindahi said. The harvest of these houses, he added, is for people to understand their connection to the place where they live or originated from. “In the place where you live, you need to know who were the people who lived there before,” he said. “We need to know the history of this place and the vocation of the place,” and not to use the land for a purpose for which it was not intended.
Geraldine reiterated the crisis of our times, describing it as a “civilization crisis, a planetary crisis, a global crisis, and a deep identity crisis,” especially for younger generations who do not live in the “original landscape and rooting place of [their] ancestors.” This crisis, she said, needs to be addressed from the psychological, emotional, bodily, family, and community point of view.
A scholar of archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy, Geraldine spoke of her own experience of tracing, rebuilding, and remapping the landscapes she was studying. She recommended that people study the “ever-present” landscape of their place of origin, as well as changing factors, such as political and economic factors. “All of this ever-changing and ever-constant landscape can be analyzed to reintegrate your identity, to reintegrate not only yourself as a whole human being, but also as a member of your family and of your extended family and of the community as a whole,” she said.
This integration is as crucial to addressing the various crises of our times, Geraldine said. “As much as we can reintegrate ourselves and our stories and our collective identities and agencies and capacities, we’ll be able also to come together in a community that holds the wisdom and the knowledge and the way of life to respond to the challenges of our times.”
Feature photo: Sister Sharon Weber, OP, at podium, welcomes the audience to the Weber Center Auditorium. Listening are, from left, Karenna Gore and Sister Anele Heiges, OP.
December 30, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – As we near the countdown to another calendar year, let us take some time to review the 10 most memorable events for the Adrian Dominican Congregation in 2016.
General Chapter 2016
After nearly two years of contemplative and collaborative study and preparation, about 200 delegates to the second session of the 2016 General Chapter gathered at the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan, February 18-26, to set the direction of the Congregation for the next six years. After input and much work together, four Enactments were approved and a Prioress and General Council were elected to lead the Congregation in living out those Enactments.
St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center Responds to Flint’s Water Crisis
When the water of Flint, Michigan, was found to be contaminated with lead co-workers at St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center found ways to offer special services to the troubled community. The Center – founded by Sister Carol Weber, OP, and Sister Judy Blake, CSJ – responded in a variety of ways, from serving as a water distribution center to offering support and nutrition classes to mothers of young children. Sister Carol also found hope and support from a community meeting, called and attended by President Barack Obama.
Adrian Dominicans Stand in Solidarity with Those Seeking Justice
Throughout the year, groups of Adrian Dominicans participated in various events in solidarity with people who are seeking justice. A group of Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, joined a protest with 3,000 indigenous peoples from their country. Participants set up camp at the University of the Philippines to raise awareness of their efforts to reclaim self-determination and liberation. Six Adrian Dominican Sisters and one Dominican Volunteer traveled to Nogales, Arizona, to join in the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch’s first-ever Convergence at the Border, which called attention to increased militarization of U.S. borders. Three Adrian Dominican Sisters were part of a contingent of U.S. Dominican Sisters who spent a weekend in solidarity with Native Americans who were encamped at Standing Rock in protest the Dakota Access Pipeline being constructed on sacred tribal land.
Dominicans around the World Celebrate 800th Jubilee
For Dominicans throughout the world, 2016 was a year-long Jubilee of the founding of the Order of Preachers by St. Dominic. Among the many celebrations taking place during this year was “Living our Legacy: A Dominican Conference in Celebration of 800 Years of Preaching,” attended by three Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Reflective Garden Brings Joy to Retired Sisters
Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, the Dominican Life Center Reflective Garden was built in the summer and dedicated in August. The garden was designed with the special needs of memory-loss Sisters in mind to give them a safe and beautiful place to enjoy nature.
Adrian Dominicans Dedicate Formation House in Dominican Republic
The Adrian Dominican Sisters renovated a 100-year-old house in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and dedicated it as a House of Formation. The house is open to women in the Dominican Republic who are discerning a call to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, women who are in formation, and for those who seek a place for spiritual growth and renewal. Read more.
Siena Heights University Opens St. Joseph Academy Building to Education Students
After receiving the old St. Joseph Academy building from the Adrian Dominican Congregation, Siena Heights University renovated the first floor and dedicated it to the Department of Education. In gratitude for the gift of the building, the faculty and students in the Education Department hosted an open house for Adrian Dominicans to showcase the new facilities.
St. Rose Dominican Hospitals Plans Four New Neighborhood Hospitals
Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals announced plans to build four new neighborhood hospitals in the Las Vegas area to increase access to health care in these areas. The first of the four is scheduled to be dedicated in the first quarter of 2017.
Associate Life Creates Advisory Board
An Advisory Board was created for Associate Life, the organization that coordinates Adrian Dominican Associates, as a way to respond to the specific Dominican charism of Associates. Made up of five Associates, the Director of Associate Life, the Formation Director, and the General Council liaison to Associate Life, the Advisory Board first met in the Spring of 2016 and reported on its accomplishments and goals during an August gathering of Associates.
Adrian Dominican Sisters Present on Global Stage
In the past year, three Adrian Dominican Sisters have taken part in global events. Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, was part of the U.S. delegation to the canonization in Rome of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Sister Mary Priniski, OP, participated in the Global Seminar on Sustainable Development and the Future of Work in the Context of the Jubilee of Mercy, in Rome in early May. Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, attended the third World Meeting of Popular Movements, held in Rome in November to help advise Pope Francis on how to address the challenges faced by poor people and Earth.