CELL is a place that seeks to showcase an example of how humans can live in harmony with Earth and all living forms in a just society. Photo: St Columbans Mission Society
Columban missionaries were represented at the Vatican’s international conference on May 23rd, ‘No more Biodiversity Collapse: Rebalancing Social Systems with Nature.’ Speakers on the panel shared wisdom, experience and examples of caring for Earth’s variety of life, which is critical to a prosperous future for all. Amy Echeverria, the International Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Coordinator spoke of the ongoing inspiration offered by Pope Francis, who said during his Angelus on May 22nd, the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are not alone, we have brothers and sisters beside us as we offer our gifts in service of God’s mission. Amy said the Pope’s words invite us to persevere and not be immobilized by the magnitude of the cries of Earth and peoples in our times.
Dr Greg Asner, from Arizona State University in the US said global scientific assessments map the current situation of biodiversity loss and provide key guidance for the restoration of damaged Earth. Dr Asner stated there has been a critical loss of biodiversity since the 1970's. He said the 2020 Global Safety Net report reveals that conserving and connecting areas of land that remain in a natural or semi-natural state is critical to reversing species loss, helping to limit global warming and protecting people from the harms of pollution, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
Works of justice, peace and the integrity of creation have been at the forefront of Columban missionaries for decades. In 1998, the Centre for Ecozoic Living and Learning (CELL) was founded in the Philippines by Columban priests John Leydon, Dominic Nolan and Frank Carey (RIP), in partnership with a community member. Since its beginnings, 50,000 people have attended the centre. Fr John says the term ecozoic refers to “a vision or dream of the Earth, where all forms of life have a home and the Earth is full of life.”
During the ‘Faith for Earth’ webinar hosted by St Columbans Mission Society on April 27th, Fr John said CELL is a place that seeks to showcase an example of how humans can live in harmony with Earth and all living forms in a just society. The centre supports participants to connect with nature and deepen their commitments to bring wellness to all creation. The experiential learning at CELL is based on understanding the relationships and functions between all forms of life rather than studying facts and objects. Fr John said the setting up of CELL anticipated the vision of an integrated ecology in Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical letter Laudato Si'. In the Encyclical letter, Pope Francis says the development of an awareness of our common origin, our mutual belonging as part of creation would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life, a future shared by everyone (LS #202).
Let us pray:
“God, bedrock of all wisdom, grow within us your Spirit of Wisdom so that we can find you present in all the workings of Earth, in every living creature and culture. Guide us to love Earth and each other as one mysterious web of living wisdom, revealing mutual connections and the harmony of cooperation that blossoms like a good friendship.” Amen.
Prayer by Columban Fr Charles Rue in Seven Days of Creation Scriptural Prayers and Reflection. Year B, 2021.
Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon