When Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005, its effect was so devastating that a “call to action” for the Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) living in Louisiana was clear. In the aftermath, RSCJ gathered in to share their stories and to discern their collective response. Commitments were formed that were simple, clear, and direct:
- Act wherever we are called--in our home and local communities and in our ministries--to address the fragility of God’s created world.
- Stay nimble, deliberately not organizing bureaucratic structures but moving in a relational, organic, and evolutionary manner.
- Stay in touch with one another by sharing meals, emailing, and using emerging technology.
- Form meaningful partnerships with others.
- Take a deep dive into the issue of “water” as our point of focus; sensing that through this portal we would connect with every other ecological and climate-related issue.
These commitments became the bedrock for the Healthy Waters and Coastal Restoration Interest Group, which convened in 2009.
From 2009 to present, the Healthy Waters and Costal Restoration Interest Group has grown to include 74 members representing RSCJ, Associates of the Sacred Heart, and partners in mission living in six counties – the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, and Australia. The groups interests concerning climate change and environmental justice vary, from water accessibility and scarcity, pollution, and groundwater, to hygiene, flood management — all aspects of the global water crisis.
Water defines our “blue” planet, our place in the cosmos, our humanity, our relationships and our story. Tragedy brought this group together around a shared interest that was personal, touching our hearts and opening us to a critical awareness which called us to action. Then and now: Our love keeps us united to “be and act as One Body” to “care for our common home.”
Resources to learn more
- Go on the journey of “integral ecology” for the next seven years with the Laudato Sí Action Platform.
- Familiarize yourself with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which creates a global framework for engaging around emerging and current issues.
- Watch the “Nature is Speaking” series at Conservation International
- Watch "National Geographic's One Strange Rock: Exploring the Future of Sustainability
- Watch "The Water Crisis | National Geographic"
- Watch "ORBIT - Journey Around Earth in Real Time"
- Visit "Our marine planet: BBC’s Blue Planet videos and resources"