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On Earth Day 2017 Let Us Thank God for Creation April 18th, 2017

Earth Day, annually celebrated on April 22, is the largest secular observance in the world. It was first observed in 1970. Today the Earth Day Network coordinates worldwide events in over than 193 countries. On Earth Day 2016, the United States, China and 120 other countries signed the landmark Paris Climate Agreement that went into effect later that year.

Environmental and Climate Literacy, this year’s theme, encourages citizens’ education on key concepts  to prepare them for advocacy.

Download the full resource here.


2017 Easter Blessings! April 13th, 2017

They divide my clothes among themselves and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:18

During the French Revolution, Eugene (just over 8 years old) and the De Mazenod family were forced into exile. The family became refugees, depending on the goodness of others. Click on the image to read more.

 

 


Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI: The Search for Meaning Continues April 5th, 2017

St Patrick’ Day 2017 found me in Paris to participate in a meeting of the UNIAPAC Think Tank (association of Christian business leaders) and to offer some comments on the history of Faith Consistent Investing, comment on the intersection of Catholic Social Teaching principles and guidelines and goals like the UN Principles for Responsible Investments and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I also mused a bit on the opportunities and challenges that were on the horizon for faith based investors. The session was hosted at part of the complex of the Bank of France and close by the Louvre and the Palais Royal.

On Friday evening, after the meeting, as I walked towards a restaurant on Rue Notre-Dame de Victories I was approached by a young woman who was searching for the basilica of Notre-Dame des Victories. Seasoned traveler that I am I presumed it must be nearby and immediately pulled out my smartphone to get the precise coordinates. She looked on quizzically and was more at ease when I showed her how the basilica was identified by a blue dot on the screen. We walked together for a few minutes, made a few quick turns on the narrow streets and immediately came upon Notre Dame des Victories.

We parted and she stepped quickly toward the front entrance and disappeared. I paused for a moment and as I was already late for my engagement, I wondered about stopping in to see what attracted my companion. It was nearly nine o’clock in the evening and I wondered what kind of event might be taking place at that hour, a Friday night, and St Patrick’s Day at that. I assumed my friends would understand so I turned and entered.

To my surprise the basilica was full to overflowing with a very diverse congregation of mostly younger people. The atmosphere was solemn and the silence broken by the voice of someone leading the group in a solemn meditation that was interrupted by an antiphonal biblical chant. The darkness was broken by light from numerous candles and flares that were scattered throughout.

I left after a brief visit and joined my colleagues for dinner where we debriefed on the topics of the daylong meeting and discussed some more thought provoking aspects of the different presentations on development, gene therapy, sustainable banking and responsible investing, and talked about what if any follow-up actions might be appropriately aligned with the mission of the Church in the world. With seven different nationalities represented at the table there were numerous points of view and analyses presented and discussed.

Throughout the meal I looked a few times at the little poster that described the purpose of the gathering that I had picked up earlier. It said that the event was organized by the “Sowers of Hope” and the question for reflection and prayer that evening was “Is it possible to love?” A very interesting and profoundly philosophical question that was being considered in the presence of the Lord.

More than two hours later as I retraced my steps back in the direction of my hotel, I noticed some small groups of people gathered in front of the basilica and I decided to go back inside. Much to my surprise the church was still quite full and the readings and chantings continued. I sat for a while and then noticed that the young woman who had asked for directions earlier was still sitting at the end of one of the pews. Her fellow pilgrims were either seated, standing, or kneeling on the floor as they participated in the worship. 

This time I stayed longer and moved toward the center of the church to get a closer look. A small choir was accompanied by a solo piano player while others pressed closer to the sanctuary where they joined in communal prayer or left their candles of remembrance or petition.

I left just before midnight while many pilgrims were still inside and walked slowly to my hotel. Was I really in Paris, in the capital of the eldest daughter of the Church? Was Patrick the missionary, on this third Friday of Lent, ploughing open some old furrows that would nourish the faith of the recent immigrants from numerous former colonies and distant places, and at the same time rekindling the faith of these welcoming youth of Paris who were gathered together in this sacred space?

The image of that great basilica filled with so many young people late into the night in Paris gathered in prayer, and to wonder about the possibility of love and where to find the seeds of hope in their lives and in today’s world remains with me. It makes me wonder about the many who are looking for reasons to hope, paths to loving relationships and increasing harmony with the earth, with strangers and migrants they have yet to meet. In a period of disruption and anxiety that is reflected in so many ways and in so many spaces may the seeker in all of us be united with those in our midst who are searching for a reason to hope and be fulfilled by the Easter experience of new life and meaning.

 

 


Oblates Give Miners A Voice March 23rd, 2017

(Originally published on OMIUSA.org)

By Mike Viola

The Missionary Oblates are expanding their role as advocates for the rights of miners around the world.

Father Seamus Finn, O.M.I. of the U.S. Oblates’ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, participated in a day of reflection on the mining industry sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Mining CEOs, representatives of the Pontifical Council and religious congregations from around the world examined ways mining companies can improve their record on human and environmental responsibilities while also achieving their business objectives.

Father Finn said the day of reflection showed mining executives that their success should not be judged only in monetary terms, but also by the impact their companies are having on the lives of people.

Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI

“I now understand better the meaning of a people-directed engagement approach,” said David Noko, Vice President of Sustainability for AngloGold Ashanti, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies.  “I am more empowered to include in my business strategy a new way of engagement founded on solid principles of social good and environmental sustainability.”

Father Finn also attended a dialogue in Lima, Peru on the impact of mining in local communities in Latin America.  He is helping to develop strategies and networks to address the destructive impacts of mining. “Extractives, mining oil and gas exploration play an important role across the world while also imposing great disruption and damage in local communities and on the environment,” said Fr. Finn.  “The search for a way forward that addresses the most serious of these negative impacts has been taken up by a number of different initiatives.”

Father Gilbeto Pauwels, O.M.I. Director of the Center of Ecology and Andean People in Oruro, Bolivia knows firsthand the devastating effects mining can have on communities.  The Oblates in Bolivia have been fighting against this injustice for more than 50 years.

Miners in Bolivia

In 1960 the Oblates started Radio Pio XII to broadcast support for Bolivian tin miners.  The station still broadcasts today despite strong opposition to its message.

Father Roberto Durette, O.M.I. has been the Director of Radio Pio XII for nearly 40 years.  Despite having survived several assassination attempts, Fr. Roberto is undeterred in his passionate fight for the rights of the miners.

Father Finn said the day of reflection deepened his awareness of the need to advocate on behalf of miners.  “The roundtable at the Vatican was not just a one-time event,” he said.  “This is an ongoing project.”


Three-Part Harmony Farm featured on Grounded Women March 13th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Lise Metzger, photographer and author of Grounded Women.

Gail Taylor is owner and manager of Three Part Harmony Farm at the Oblate Residence in Washington, DC. She was recently featured in a 3-part series appearing on the Grounded Women blog. Grounded Women shares the inspiring stories of powerful and committed women farmers in the Washington, DC metro area.  Read the stories here.

Growing a City: Gail Taylor, Part 1

Drive down 4th Street N.E. in Washington, D.C., a fairly active street near Catholic University, and it might be easy not to notice the thriving farm behind a chain-link fence. It’s Three Part Harmony Farm run by Gail Taylor, a key player in the D.C. urban farming scene. The farm’s name defines its core values: Read the full article.

Gail Taylor owns and operates Three Part Harmony Farm on the grounds of the Oblate Residence in Washington, DC. She is a longtime resident of the District, has worked in the Latin America Solidarity community with affordable housing organizations, and is now working with the food sovereignty movement.


Missionary Oblates and Vivat International Co-sponsor Women’s Event @ UN March 10th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Sr. Nathaniel Lee, LSHF

Missionary Oblates and Vivat International, along with the NGO Committee on Social Development, the NGO Committee on Financing for Development (chaired by Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, OMI) and a host of supporting organizations, including the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, are hosting an event on March 13, 2017 at the UN Conference on the Status of Women (CSW). 

The goal of this event is to generate substantive discussions around the topic of financial inclusion as a tool for women’s empowerment and poverty eradication.

Download the event flyer here.

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