A call to ecological conversion

by | Oct 23, 2015 | News

CJ WilleSr. Carol Jean Wille, Sister of Charity (Cincinnati), reflects on a call to ecological conversion and the role that women’s communities have been playing for some time. She writes in A call to Ecological Conversion – Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter…

Long before the publication of Laudato Sí and Pope Francis’ call for an “ecological conversion” (217), Catholic women’s communities had already recognized that their “communities have an important role to play in ecological education” (214) and have “strived to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society, and our relationship with nature.” (215)

These initiatives have taken many and diverse forms, including establishing environmental centers. I am currently participating in a sabbatical program at one: An Tairseach (an Irish word meaning threshold), a Dominican Ecology Centre, in Wicklow, Ireland. The mission of An Tairseach is “to grow in awareness that the Earth is our home and home to all living beings.”

…As I immerse myself in the sabbatical program, my awareness of the need for my own personal ecological conversion grows. Pope Francis’ reminder is coming alive for me: “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains; everything is, as it were a caress of God.” (Laudato Sí 84)

… I do not know yet all that an ecological conversion is going to mean for me. I only know that I want to be open to the Divine Mystery continually calling me forth to new ways of being and new ways of relating to all of Creation.

I am only scratching the surface of all that I have received in the past few weeks. I am continually amazed and energized, not only by the content of the program, but by sharing with the 14 other participants from Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Nigeria, Ireland and New Zealand. Each has a story to share and each enriches my life.

I am understanding at a whole different level what Thomas Berry meant when he said:

The natural world itself is our primary language as it is our primary scripture, our primary awakening to the mysteries of existence. We might well put all our written scriptures on the shelf for twenty years until we learn what we are being told by unmediated experience of the world about us.

A call to Ecological Conversion – Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

[Caroljean Willie is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati who has a Ph.D. in Multicultural Education. She has extensive experience working cross-culturally throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America.]