On April 10, 2015 the Associated Alumnae and Alumni of the Sacred Heart hosted its Annual Conference in Boston, MA. A panel of artists and RSCJ educators explored the topic of climate change to discuss “Climate SmART: Honoring Our Children’s Future Through Faith, Art, and Action.” The 5 member panel was sponsored by Honoring the Future (www.honoringthefuture.org). It was moderated by Frances Dubrowski, Project Director, Honoring the Future and Alumna, Newton College of the Sacred Heart.
Members of the panel included:
• Peter Handler, award-winning craft artist and creator of “The Canaries in the Coal Mine” sculptural works about the impacts of climate change
• Joan Kirby, RSCJ, UN Representative from Temple of Understanding, the U.S.’s oldest interfaith organization
• Melanie Guste, RSCJ, Headmistress, Academy of the Sacred Heart (The Rosary) and Facilitator, New Orleans Healthy Waters and Coastal Restoration Interest Group
• Lillian Ball, internationally recognized environmental artist and designer of stormwater management projects, including WATERWASH, a thriving, artist-designed wetlands park in the South Bronx created, in large part, by impoverished teens and
• Eleanor MacLellan, RSCJ, Educator at Massachusetts Audubon Society, Drumlin Farm, reconnecting urban elementary school children to nature.
What follows is the PPT that I used in this presentation. We were limited to 5-6 minutes. The audience of several hundred alumna of Sacred Heart schools from 24 schools of the Sacred Heart in the United States and Canada were the participants.
What follows are a few opening comments from the presentation:
When I think of philanthropy, I think of abundance, of generosity and of gift—these elements all blending together and pouring out toward something that is good and precious. As a child, I experienced the world in this way, mediated to me by a Mother and a Father who showered me with an abundance of love, a large family of ten brothers and sisters, and with exposure to the world and to its many places of beauty all throughout my childhood and young adulthood. At a young age, my life was very full and purely abundant. It was then that I began to understand something about God–about God’s unconditional and abundant gift of self through the created world.
We traveled extensively as a family. I saw the shimmering of mountains in the Grand Canyon, the mist hanging over the Blue ridge Parkway, the snowy Alps from the Alps, and the ice canyons of the Canada’s Yukon territory from a glacier. Looking back, I remember a time at Lake Louise in Victoria, CA when, as a young adult, my love for nature consciously turned from that of a tourist to one of awareness and commitment. It was a quiet morning. While looking out at Lake Louise, I experienced a passion arise in my heart with a desire to be in this world in a simple and more radically abandoned way–not as a tourist looking out from a window at a resort or as one who just looks on (even lovingly), but as one who is deeply immersed in it.
Through that experience, I completely understand how some people leave everything to live in the Yukon. For me, it was more of a moment that lead me to religious life as an RSCJ and to set on a journey of understanding the fullness of God’s creation and incarnation.
My passion for the environment is driven by a deep sense and personal experience of God’s presence in the created world. In my way of seeing, I do not simply accept in an abstract way that God created the world and that we were given this “garden of life.” If that were the case, I may accept the notion that creation could be a utility—or an object for ones use or singularly for advancing one’s pleasure. No, rather, this experience of God’s gift of self in creation—living and moving and pulsating with Spirit, lays claim to my heart and, like the Society of the Sacred Heart’s Chapter Documents, proclaim “it IMPELS ME TO ACTION.”
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