Martha Justice Ministry living Gospel Hospitality through social justice and love of creation
By Darlene O’Leary, Coordinator, Martha Justice Ministry
The Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish have a long history of living their charism of Gospel Hospitality in their communities, through social work, health care, education, and other supports that offer welcome, compassion, and prayerful guidance. Martha Justice Ministry is a continuation of how the Marthas live Gospel Hospitality through social justice and creation care.
Martha Justice Ministry is a merger of the Marthas Social Justice Committee and the Martha Ecology Committee guided by a deepening understanding of the Earth and all creation as interconnected and a commitment to addressing systemic injustice. The ministry lives out its commitments through education, building networks of collaboration, prayerful contemplation, and advocacy.
Grounded in a deep sense of the interconnection of all things and the recognition of systemic injustice, Martha Justice Ministry works in the local community, regionally, nationally, and internationally with networks doing social and ecological justice work. We are active in poverty reduction coalitions, affordable housing associations, and food security networks locally and regionally. We are part of national faith groups educating and advocating for climate justice, racial justice, Indigenous rights, and refugee rights. And we are active participants in the UN Federation of the Sisters of Charity that promotes justice, peace, and creation care on a global scale.
One area of particular importance to the ministry is the work of right relations and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We have committed to understanding ourselves as “Treaty People” who honour the commitments made to Indigenous peoples so that their rights to live their traditions and cultures are recognized. We have voiced support to policy makers for legislating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We have called for measures to redress and prevent further incidents of environmental racism, as has been highlighted in our province in the book and documentary, There’s Something in the Water. In addition, we have called on the federal government to ensure that the Mi’kmaq are able to develop a sovereign fishery that builds on Treaty rights and Supreme Court rulings affirming those rights, without threats of violence.
Another important area of work for Martha Justice Ministry is our New Growers program. We work with organic farmers, David and Jen Greenberg, who manage the program and mentor young people interested in running their own small-scale market gardens. We have two-to-four growers per season who learn everything from seed ordering, garden planning, composting, marketing, and of course, growing beautiful, organic vegetables! Our New Growers are supplied with mentors, land, equipment, green house and hoop houses, wash facilities and refrigeration. We have a had great success with the program, with the majority of our participants going on to start their own farms.
As we continue with our work, through this difficult pandemic and beyond, Martha Justice Ministry will stay grounded in our commitment to live in harmony with the Earth and with each other, always embracing our neighbours and our common home.