Dominican Sisters Conference
In an effort to better coordinate the activities of Dominican sisters in the United States and to enable us to reflect on the possibility of speaking with one voice on urgent issues, the Dominican Sisters Conference (DSC) was established in October 2010.
The Conference runs on a three-year cycle: the first year being a leadership meeting; the second year, a convocation; the third year, area meetings.
At the Dominicans Sisters Conference Convocation in October 2012, we listened to a presentation on the phenomenon of global climate change, “Not Too Hot To Handle: New Energies for Preaching Truth To Power.” Within the context of this presentation, we were invited to consider this question: What is Earth asking for the Order?
What Is Earth Asking of the Order?
In considering this question, it became a moment for our membership to acknowledge that life as we have known it is no more. As a human species, we have pushed the limits of Earth’s carrying capacity. Our destructive patterns of consumption and production have compromised Earth’s ecosystems; polluted her rivers, streams, seas and the air we breathe; ravaged her minerals, her land, her non-human species, all of which speak to us of the Creator who brought them all, and us, into existence. Our incessant need to produce more, bigger, and better has widened the gap between those who have and those who have not.
In many ways, Earth is no longer viable. And if this is the case, it calls into question all our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as well as all of our endeavors in the areas of:
- human trafficking
- violence against women and children
- economic justice
- peace and security.
What long-term resolutions to these issues are possible, when that which contains it all is in peril?
In a very real sense this is a new moment for us. We are the Dominican Sisters Conference and in our Mission Statement, we acknowledge that we are to act both, globally and locally, placing the transforming grace of the Dominican charism at the service of our world and Church, especially in responding to the cry of the poor and to the urgent need to preserve Earth’s integrity.
The state of the question has not improved all that much in the intervening months.
Indeed, many parts of our country have experienced extraordinary weather events, that have taken lives and livelihoods; have left many homeless and displaced; and have altered our natural landscapes and the productive capacity of the land. In these DSC area gatherings, we continue to reflect on the question:
What Is Earth Asking of the Order?
We will use the Faith Praxis Cycle to help us to reflect on our experiences of changing weather patterns; to study and analyze some of the available facts and data; to reflect on what is our responsibility, from a faith perspective, to care for all of God’s Creation; to consider how we might respond locally, and as a Conference to this extraordinary crisis in our moment in history.
Perhaps it’s timely to recall these words from Gaudium et Spes:
“The common good is the sum of the conditions of social life which are necessary for individuals, families and nations to achieve their own fulfillment; conditions which can only be achieved together.”
The “common good” of individuals, of families, of nations, of religious congregations, cannot be separated from the good of “the commons” – the health of land, air, water, species, ecosystems –all of which support our very lives.
“As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile… We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society…”