The Healthy Waters and Coastal Restoration Interest Group formed in 2009 through the desire of RSCJ to pray, reflect, and act together around issues related to the water crisis and coastal degradation. Formed in repsonse to to the continuing environmental crisis in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, the first gathering was held in Baton Rouge, LA, to discuss what could be done, in partnership with others, to address our fragile ecosystem and water issues in the world. Since that time, the group has grown steadily in this shared interest and passion. As of today, there are 100 members of this group, living in five countries of the world and in 17 cities. The group is comprised of RSCJ as well as RSCJ Associates, the Associated Alumnae of the Sacred Heart, faculty members of Sacred Heart schools, and other friends of the Sacred Heart family.
Members are concerned about rivers, lakes, oceans, water scarcity, water accessibility, water management: all aspects of the global water crisis. The group is reflective of water as a sacrament and the relationship between water, faith and climate change. Through this reflection, group members participate in advocacy networks, sign petitions, and share information, resources and prayer. Their focus is on healthy water - not just in the fragile Gulf area, but everywhere. The group’s goal is to live the priority for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the General Chapter of 2008:
Journeying with peoples of different contexts, races, and cultures, and listening profoundly to the joys and suffering of humanity have allowed us to be touched by the poverty, inequality, exclusion, violence, and environmental destruction that are present in today’s world. We recognize with greater clarity the interconnectedness of global realities and the impact these have on our local situations. We are more aware of the marginalizing effects of globalization and of cultures of dominance and exclusion. (Chapter 2008)
The interest group is an active member of the Sierra Club, the Gulf Coast Restoration Network and the Audubon Society. From these groups, we receive timely information, participate in education and advocacy campaigns and work to protect the environment, especially with regard to Healthy Waters. Particular efforts this past year included:
- Sharing news with each other and others, including the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. See this great summary of action steps that came from this report.
- Opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline that will run from the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, Texas—through protected indigenous and protected lands.
- Opposing additional coal exports through Louisiana wetlands
- Supporting the Restore Act and the Transportation Act (which includes funds for coastal restoration).
- Staying up-to-date on water issues on the local, state, national and international levels. Visit one of the sites they use: www.thegreatstory.org.
- Sharing contemplative and prayerful dimension: Members shared books, videos and prayers on this issue such as a meditation from Richard Rohr on Living on our One Earth.
The Healthy Waters and Coastal Restoration Group has a Facebook group, open to anyone interested in learning more about living in harmony with the environment. Please visit the page and click the “ask to join” button. All members of the Sacred Heart family and friends are also invited to join the Healthy Waters Group and learn more about this critical issue. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Sister Melanie Guste at email@example.com.