Today (April 22nd 2020) marks Earth Day, a day for us to reflect on our own capabilities and position to make meaningful environmental changes, changes that will allow our planet to survive and flourish for all of its inhabitants.
This is a cause and mission close to the heart of many within our own congregation, our International team ‘Care of the Earth’ consists of Sisters from around the globe, with committee members stemming from Ireland, Zambia, California, the UK and Nigeria. The mission of ‘Care of the Earth’ is not only to promote caring for the earth within the congregation, but to enable Sisters within our congregation to promote good environmental education in their countries.
One such mission lies in Nigeria where Sr. Helen Eluagu, one of the original members of the team, was compelled by Pope Francis’ document ‘Laudato Si’ to get involved and create awareness about the environment. “The desire to have a better future for the next generation influences me to pursue this good cause” said Sr. Eluagu. Since 2019, Care of the Earth has been established in the Catholic Church of the Visitation in Festac town, Lagos. Here members give talks and encourage parishioners to care for the earth.
Practicality is also a significant factor is helping spread the message of good environment. Why should a farmer adopt new practices that bear no or little fruits of their labour, or add hardship to their task?
In 2014, Sr. Eluagu travelled to Songhai in Benin Republic, a hub for advanced organic farming, for three months to partake in agricultural training. The training she received led to the committee organising training for 100 farmers in Songhai, these farmers were educated then equipped with tools like wheelbarrows, cutlasses, gloves, hoes and shovels - the best three farmers even received prizes.
While before, the farmers were working hard using inorganic practices for little reward. Their new training now helps them to improve the quality of life they have. Just like sowing the seeds of a crop, the seeds of knowledge grow and spread helping others achieve a better quality of life too. It also helps the environment by protecting the earth. “Organic farming practices help the earth because it maintains the soil structure and textures. It balances the PH and other soil parameters.” said Sr. Eluagu.
This Earth Day we encourage you to reflect upon what you can do to help contribute to environment and the planet. It is not always feasible to engage in projects such as Sr. Eluagu’s, but what can you do to play your part? Small actions can have large consequences, the planting of native seeds and flowers can increase the biodiversity in your area helping to protect and nourish nature. In this current time of crisis, it might not be a bad idea to add a little colour to the world.
Join us in a prayer for our earth
You are present in the whole universe
And in the smallest of your creatures
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists
Pour out upon us the power of your love
That we may protect life and beauty
Fill us with peace that we may live
As brothers and sisters, harming no one
O God of the poor
Help us to rescue the abandoned
And forgotten of this earth
So precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives
That we may protect the world and not prey on it
That we may sow beauty
Not pollution and destruction
Touch the hearts
Of those who look only for gain
At the expense of the poor and the earth
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing
To be filled with awe and contemplation
To recognize that we are profoundly united
With every creature
As we journey towards your infinite light
We thank you for being with us each day
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
For justice, love and peace.