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Mercy sisters respond to pope’s call to hear cry of the earth and the poor

What a glorious autumn. For weeks we were treated to trees aglow in their amber, vibrant red and orange dressings. The radiance they reflected seemed to filter into every corner of our world. This has to be what God had in mind during those early days of creation. A beauty that takes our breath away. A radiance that warms our souls.

And Pope Francis reminds us of that beauty in "On Care for Our Common Home" ("Laudato Si’"). God created the heavens and the earth to delight and inspire us, to nurture and sustain us.

When reading the creation story, I am overwhelmed by the notion that God spent the first five days tending to countless details like a host preparing his home to receive beloved guests. Not until every detail was in order did he welcome man and woman. Not until the earth, the animals and man were united, did he find it very good.

Then God offered us the awesome responsibility to be his co-creator, to cultivate and care for the garden (Gn 2:15). We are called to be stewards of all of our gifts including creation, God’s original gift to us.

Pope Francis is reminding us of that tremendous gift and responsibility. He is reminding us of the urgency to renew our commitment to the harmony between the fundamental relationships of human life, with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself, which has been disrupted (LS 66).

When the encyclical was released in May, my first thought was of the Sisters of Mercy who have lent their collective voice and ministry to the poignant issues the pope heralded. They have been leaders in the care for the earth, especially where its abuse affects the poor. It is one of their foundational priorities.

They address it in practical ways and in systemic ways by employing environmentally friendly practices in their homes, life centers, offices and sponsored institutions, and also by their advocacy work with the legislature and mobilizing others to advocate as well. You will not find Styrofoam products in their homes and offices, rather "real" coffee mugs and silverware alongside guides for contacting political representatives about climate change or hydro-fracking.

As a community, they have taken this call from God seriously, recognizing, as does Pope Francis and many others, that we are reaching a breaking point and we must hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Next month the Sisters of Mercy are launching a year-long international reflection process to discern a shared response to this cry. People across the globe are invited to participate in small groups to study the concerns and discover visionary responses.

We too need to take God’s call seriously in our homes, communities and work places, to implement the changes we can in our daily round as well as lend voice, wisdom and energy to systemic efforts that renew the radiance and harmony God created and intended, and that he blessed us with and found very good.

 

Shannan Brommer is director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at smbrommer@archomaha.org.

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