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Restoring the Forest and Ourselves June 9th, 2023
By Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director, La Vista Ecological Learning Center
RESTOR is a global restoration movement with an inspiring mission: “accelerating the conservation and restoration of nature for the benefit of people, biodiversity, and climate”. RESTOR does this by “connecting people and their projects to resources like scientific data, monitoring tools, funding, and each other to increase impact, scale, and sustainability of these efforts. We believe that anyone can be a restoration champion”.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have been restoration champions since 1993 when they were the first landowners in the area to dedicate sixteen acres, the “Missionary Oblates Woods Nature Preserve”, as part of the Illinois Nature Preserve System. In 2001 they added one hundred forty-three acres in the Forest Legacy Program. With this history, OMI has become a member of the RESTOR movement; consequently, it is possible to explore specifics about biodiversity on their land using RESTOR data. On Oblate land in Godfrey, IL, diversity includes 1,409 plant species, 31 amphibian species, 46 mammal species, and 174 bird species. That’s a lot of biodiversity on a little over 250 acres!!!
La Vista’s Monday study group just completed reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, and one of Kimmerer’s insights we loved is appropriate here. She comments that when we think of ecological restoration we think about what we are doing to and for land like invasive species and trash removal, controlled burns, and planting native species which we do at La Vista. However, Kimmerer expands this thinking when she explains that, in the indigenous tradition, when we do ecological restoration we are really restoring ourselves! This must explain why, when volunteers head back to their cars after restoration work, they comment about feeling happy, fulfilled, nourished. It is true. Why else would volunteers drive a distance to get dirty, work hard, and brave tick bites? The principle of reciprocity as at work here! Once again, native people help us with an alternative reality.
Kimmerer also phrases it this way, “Land loves us back”. In the case of preserves, it does this in part by providing a peaceful and healthy environment for those who visit; by increasing wildlife, thus reducing species loneliness and countering biodiversity collapse; by cleaning the watershed, contributing to a healthier Mississippi River for humans and other species.
Truly, ecological restoration is a two-way street, and Pope Francis agrees. In the encyclical Laudato Si’ he shows awareness of this deep connection: “God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement”. The opposite is also a reality – when we help heal damaged land, we are also healed. Healthy people and healthy planet go together.
Ready. Set. Go. 2020 OMI US Convocation March 5th, 2020
The U.S. Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate plans a Convocation every three years. It is an opportunity to renew our energies as missionaries and strengthen the bonds which unite us as members of one province. From April 13-17, 2020 U.S. Oblates will gather around the following Convocation theme taken from the Preface of St. Eugene:
“They Must Constantly Renew Themselves in the Spirit of Their Vocation”
Convocation 2020 will include moments to relax, connect, pray, and be renewed as we strengthen our bonds as a province.
Visit the 2020 Convocation’s website: https://convocation.snows.org/
Rediscovering the Importance of Brotherhood through Jesus’ Life December 5th, 2017
“Brother” is the name traditionally given to the male lay religious in the Church since the beginning of consecrated life. The title does not belong to them exclusively, of course, but it represents a significant way of being in the ecclesial community in which he is the prophetic memory of Jesus-Brother, who told his followers: “And you are all brothers” (Mt23:8)
It is important to know that Jesus was a layman calling people to be brothers and sisters. He himself represents the big brother for all of us. His brotherhood is a gift from God to the world and to the church: “Jesus Christ first of all became brother, shared our flesh and blood and was in solidarity with the sufferings of his brothers and sisters,” “The word became flesh and abides among us”( Jn 1.)
The vocation of the brother has its origins in Jesus, fount of all vocations. This particular vocation comes from a man who never was engaged as a member of the priesthood of Israel. His ministry was a ministry developed in a secular way; his consecrated life comes through his faith in God.
2017 Novena of Prayer for Oblate Vocations May 17th, 2017
From May 21st to May 29th, Missionary Oblate communities and parishes around the world are encouraged to offer prayers and reflection for vocations to Oblate life and mission. May 21 is the Feast of St. Eugene and May 29 is the anniversary of Blessed Joseph Gerard, OMI, the Oblate Missionary who worked in Lesotho. These nine days bring oblates, associates, parishioners, mission partners and friends together in prayer and reflection on oblate life and mission.
The Oblate JPIC office would like to invite you to pray and take action for the poor and marginalized people in your local community and around the world.
We’ve prepared a two-page novena on justice and peace themes. Commit to one, some or all of the days of Novena for Oblate Vocations.
Please also share this resource with others and invite your community to use it to promote vocations to the Missionary Oblate family.
Church representatives vow to defend Latin American areas with mines December 11th, 2014
Thanks to Catholic New Service for this article, which was written by Lise Alves
SAO PAULO (CNS) — Christian leaders from 14 Latin American countries gathered in Brasilia in early December to discuss ways to reduce the impact of mining activities in their communities, especially the contamination of rivers and lakes.
“There is no large-scale industrial mining without water,” said Bishop Guilherme Werlang of Ipameri, president of the Brazilian bishops’ social justice and charity commission. But the bishops say materials used in mineral extraction contaminate groundwater, rivers and lakes in mining regions.
“It has been proven that these toxic materials will remain in the soil and in the water during many centuries,” said Bishop Werlang.
A three-day conference dubbed “Church and Mining: An Option in Defense of Communities and Territories,” was the first of its kind in the region. The conference had the support of the Brazilian bishops’ conference and the participation of the Latin American Council of Churches as about 90 participants tried to define strategies and alliances to reduce the impact of mining activities.
“We discussed the threats, challenges and insecurities that local and indigenous communities throughout Latin America are experiencing where mining companies are operating,” said Oblate Father Seamus Finn of the Oblates’ Washington-based Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Ministry.
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