Each year during the summer the Columban Sisters hold a gathering at the Central House in Magheramore, Wicklow. The topic for this year’s gathering was Cosmic Spirituality and the Environmental Crisis. This gathering also provides a forum where sisters home from various missions have an opportunity to meet and share experiences.
This year the major presenter was Fr. Sean McDonagh, SSC, the well-known writer and lecturer on the topic of the environment. A major portion of his presentation was devoted to an explanation of how our universe evolved and how each successive evolutionary upheaval prepared the way for the next stage of the planet’s development. In doing this, he highlighted how a small change in the kind of upheaval or in its timing would have given rise to a totally different planet.
Having looked at the scientific and evolutionary development of the universe, Fr. Sean then placed all this in the context of our faith. He highlighted the age of our universe and how in a thirty-volume history of the evolution of the world, human life as we know it would appear only on page 300 of Volume 30. This helped us deepen our realization of how recently we have arrived on this planet and how important it is that we see ourselves in the context of the whole evolutionary process and not its beginning and its end.
This led us to the whole notion of salvation and FR. Sean challenged us to see salvation in the broad sense and not just the salvation of people but of all God’s creation – for all creation is a manifestation of God’s presence in the universe. In the context of this realization we were then challenged to look at attitudes and actions that help us protect our universe for we are all part of the whole.
The next part of our gathering was devoted to hearing from Sisters about environmental issues in the various missions. We heard about the struggle of indigenous peoples to protect their ancestral lands, about the efforts that various dioceses and church groups are making to highlight this issue, what efforts local groups and individual groups are making and what ourselves are doing in the places where we live and work.
|On the final day of the gathering, there was a presentation by Sister Cait Coyle, SSC, on the topic of Ecofeminism – what it means and what it hopes to achieve in relation to the environment.|
|This was followed by a presentation given by Sister Anne Ryan, SSC, our Congregational Leader, on the Vows of Religious Life in the light of a cosmic spirituality.|
The gathering ended with all of us sharing our insights on what we had heard and experienced and making a commitment to live our lives in the light of this deeper understanding of our place in the totality of God’s creation.
With all of this there was still time to meet each other, to share on what we are doing, to listen together on where God may be calling us and to enjoy each other’s company.