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Report from ISMAPNG

March 7, 2016


2016 and all that

As I enter more seriously into the patterns of 2016, I feel the need to plot my direction for the year. As I am of an age when I am most appropriately retired, the lines between my personal interests and spirituality, my Mercy involvement, and my Earth Link involvement are quite blurred, but definitely part of a single tapestry. I will comment on the strands.

Personal and Professional
My depthing of a spirituality, theology and ethics where “Heaven and Earth Embrace” keeps me engaged in reading and writing in that area. I am still on a somewhat circuitous track towards a PhD on that topic even in the midst of some tantrums. That is my full time preoccupation.

In addition to that I consider it a priority to continue to bond with “place”, and that is taking a few of us this year on the Ghan, a train which links Darwin in the north of the country to Adelaide in the south. Last year we went to Thursday Island and Cape York, and made our way overland back to Cairns, followed by the return train journey to Brisbane.

Earth Link
I maintain a website: I have recently prepared the first e-newsletter for 2016, and transferred the material to the website. That keeps me focussed at multiple levels, reminds me of related events to attend, resources to read, materials to reflect upon. A group of us meet monthly for our own social, spiritual and ecological enrichment. We have been viewing the DVD of “Cosmos” over many months now. On Saturday 27 February, Earth Link will be screening the DVD of “This Changes Everything”, a movie based on the book of the same name by Naomi Klein. Details are available from the above website. This movie and the Leap Manifesto (named because this is a leap year!) are very worth studying if we want to shape a future based on “caring for each other and the planet, moving swiftly to a post-carbon future, upholding Indigenous rights and pursuing economic justice for all”. You can read it here

In fact, I am going to work towards the articulation of such a manifesto in Mercy circles. It could well build on the Paris Pledge for Action which you can access at / (I wonder if this could be a contribution from the Ecojustice/Cosmology group to the Mercy International Reflection Process.)

I do not have an “official” role on environment matters within the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and PNG. I volunteered to be part of an Ecology group which came into existence after the Institute Mission gatherings. We worked on a mandate from those gatherings to develop a Sustainability Policy for ISMAPNG. We prepared a draft, and submitted it to the newly constituted Mission and Ministry Unit.

I have been active over a few years in encouraging a review of the Investment Policy of ISMAPNG, and especially our investments in companies involved in the extraction of fossil fuels. We have excluded Adani from our list of companies, but generally have much further to go in this area. I have recently worked with Elizabeth Young and John Rochester to prepare a reflection on the Eleventh Station of the Way of the Cross for Mercy International Association.

There is an online Mercy “Ecological Conversion” group with about 60 members who can post to the group at any time. I am active in contributing material to that group. Some of that material is then included in the monthly e-journal, “Just Mercy” which can be accessed here

Mercy International is engaging in a global reflection process during this Year of Mercy which has as its focus “Listening to the Cry of Earth and the Cry of the Poor”, or as I prefer to name it, “Listening to the cry of Mother Earth and her people”. I am the facilitator of that process for the northern community which extends to PNG, Darwin and East Timor and down to the Qld border. I have recently been training local facilitators in various locations within the community. I am committed to this process as a way of moving to a new paradigm where relationships are core, and places in hierarchies are no longer the measure of worth and value.

Mercy International Association based in Dublin convenes a Cosmology/Ecojustice group with members from various countries. Because of my membership in that group I was eligible for an invitation to attend COP21 in Paris in December, 2015. Given the outbreak of violence in the weeks preceding that event, I chose not to attend, but I followed it closely in the media, and especially through the Guardian in Australia. I do not see myself as an advocate, but rather as an educator. I am, however, very concerned about the reality of climate change, the worldviews that accept or deny its reality, and the need for the move to a carbon-free future. With a Federal election in Australia this year, it behoves us to be vigilant and active in the pursuit of policies and political parties with a similar agenda.

I am involved with Qld Churches Environment Network, an ecumenical network under the auspice of Qld Churches Together. As a network it brings together people from various Christian backgrounds who have shared concerns about the interface of faith and the environment. As an unresourced group with no executive assistance, it relies heavily on the dedication and initiatives of its network partners.

I am also involved with the “Exploring Ecospirituality” group, an initiative of the Australian Environmental Law Association, which has a core group drawn from the community and the Centre for Multifaith and Intercultural Dialogue at Griffith University. Its quarterly offerings are very well attended by a wide variety of people from varying faith backgrounds or none.

Mary Tinney rsm