Find More Mercy Projects

Cosmology & Eco Justice

Spread the word

Report from Australia: An Appendix to that submitted by Mary Tinney rsm

March 6, 2016

Rahamim Ecology Centre is a ministry of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Its mission is to promote the values of mercy and justice, as they contribute to the building of life-giving relationships within a resilient earth community.

Located in Bathurst in rural NSW, the ministry seeks to embody a spirituality that animates care of the Earth, its life forms and life support systems, including a more ecologically sustainable relationship between humans and the environment. It also has an outreach into the wider community, developing networks particularly across the communities and ministries under the auspices of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. It achieves its ends by means of education/learning programs, facilitating new insights in the context of the universe, science and theology; retreats; sustainability and permaculture practices; advocacy; and experiential opportunities on and off site and on-line.

The 4.7ha site features natural landscape functions, cultivated heritage and community gardens, signed demonstration installations and an increasing biodiversity of animal and plant life. Accommodation and conference facilities are available in the heritage house, partially retrofitted for energy efficiency.

Among its most popular educational programs are Green Drinks and the Sabbatical Intensive Program. Green Drinks is a monthly program. People gather to hear a presenter speak on some relevant environmental issue. Drinks and nibbles contribute to a congenial atmosphere and participants take the opportunity to network and interact with each other and the speaker.

The February Green Drinks program is highlighting the issue of nuclear waste disposal. One proposed site for a nuclear waste dump is a heritage village near here called Hill End. Rahamim supports the local resident’s opposition to this proposal for a number of ecological reasons.

Another issue which has attracted the advocacy of Rahamim is the selling of the city’s recycled effluent to a new gold mine starting up in the area. Rivers in Australia depend solely on rainfall. We left glaciers and mountains behind in Antarctica when Australia broke off from the super continent Gondwana. The recycled water from the Bathurst community, which sits at the headwaters of the river, has always been put back into the river to assist the flow and meet the needs of users – both human and other than human – further downstream. Australia’s inland river system has been under significant stress for some time now. Some rivers cease to flow altogether at certain times of the year.

Soil Salinity is a problem further West of here. The Australian continent is a landscape that functioned for thousands of years by holding water within the landscape itself. That has changed with the agricultural management of the land over the last 200 years. Our river is in need of mercy and so are many of the ecological communities that depend on it. This is the message Rahamim brought to the Regional Council recently, along with all the scientific and community based facts and figures that support this message.

The Sabbatical Intensive this year will take place from 25 – 30 September 2016. Scripture scholar,
Sr Veronica Lawson rsm will lead the Intensive. The Theme is: “Leaving Space for Mercy….in the Face of Earth’s Distress.” More information is available on the Rahamim website or upon request.

Once again, Rahamim is in transition as it explores its role within the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. We are beginning a search for a new Executive Director. I am “acting” in that role till mid 2016.

Patricia Powell rsm