This month we feature photos and reflections from gardens planted by sisters at various Notre Dame locations in the United States. It is a worthy theme as we conclude this year’s Season of Creation in early October. It is also a positive theme at a time when so much of what we see, hear and read has to do with things that can try one’s sense of equanimity.
Thank you to the sisters who shared their photos and stories about gardening for this issue. It was so uplifting and enjoyable to talk with each of you and to learn about your appreciation for creation and the joy you find in planting and tending to your gardens.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis underscores the interconnectivity of all things and explains that concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.
We are now in The Season of Creation, a time when we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home. It occurs every year from September 1 to October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis. We are facing many challenges during this 2020 season as the United States experiences massive wildfires in the west, hurricanes in the east, and hundreds of climate refugees in the south. This is in addition to a global pandemic, deforestation in the Amazon and melting of glaciers in the Antarctic. How do we find more efficient and less violent new ways of caring for our common home?
On September 1, over four hundred Notre Dame Mission Volunteers started their journeys of service in the midst of a global pandemic and unprecedented times. During this year, they will be challenged to meet growing needs in creative ways to ensure the health and safety of their students and communities. This will be a year of service unlike any other, and we are accepting the unknowns as an opportunity to shift our view of service.
Meaningful connections are occurring through virtual platforms in an array of ways: members are facilitating e-learning and providing tech support, and teams are collaborating at their biweekly training meetings. The virtual space is creating opportunities for our members across the country to meet and establish relationships that will carry them through the year.
We are grateful for their service and ask you to keep our members in your prayers as they are challenged to stretch their hearts as wide as the world. Follow Notre Dame Mission Volunteers on social media to stay updated on how our members are continuing to get things done!
The body of Rodrigo Castro, a young Guatemalan man living in the Matamoros refugee tent camp, was found on the banks of the Rio Grande. Rodrigo drowned when he tried to rescue a pregnant woman who was being carried by the strong currents of the river. She was saved but Rodrigo gave his life, leaving behind a pregnant wife and young baby.
Our sisters who have volunteered at the camp remember Rodrigo working in the Tienda, the camp’s free store. He was responsible for distributing supplies to the immigrant families. Rodrigo took responsibility for his family and the camp seriously. A natural leader, he was always available to facilitate any efforts to support the camp. His death could have been prevented if a desperate situation had not been created along our southern border by the cruel and illegal immigration policy known as MPP (aka Remain in Mexico awaiting Asylum).
Conditions in the camp have become increasingly insufferable in recent months. Hurricane season brings rains and winds that rip the fragile tents, and the rising river brings floods, and plagues of rats and mosquitoes. Most of the remaining 900+ immigrants are into their second year in the camp. That may be why more and more bodies are being found in or near the Rio Grande; the plague of desperation is driving these children of God to try the crossing . Sister Norma Pimentel says it clearly: They are saying, Please get me out of here. I can’t take it anymore.
May Rodrigo Castro rest in peace and may our sisters and brothers in Matamoros finally find a reason for hope and deliverance from their suffering.
As I look out the window of the assisted living center,
I daily see a weathered tree who has become my mentor.
Lacking several branches, he speaks of storms he has endured,
yet his bright green foliage tells me life has been ensured.
I love his tender image, meek and mild among the trees,
and of the way he sincerely enjoys every little breeze.
He bends quite gracefully with the changing weather forms,
and carefully tends to the nests which he always warms.
His message: "Grow old gracefully with every year of life,
and take in stride the sunny days as well as rain and strife."
I never can repay him for advice he's freely given me,
but he does smile when I call him my Golden Mentor Tree
Pat Rooks, SNDdeN