Africa, Asia, North America

Lights for Lima

Sister Maryann Calabrese, CND, raises the globe.

As they sang during the service, sisters spontaneously began passing the globe through the chapel.

Eight local Catholic parishes and five other nearby churches were invited to the service, which was organized by SSNDs and CNDs.

Sisters collaborate for climate change

  Sister Justine Nutz, SSND, lights the Advent Wreath during the service.

Lights for Lima, an Advent vigil service focusing on climate change and global warming, was prayed together on Dec. 7 by School Sisters of Notre Dame and sisters from the Congregation of Notre Dame in the chapel at Villa Notre Dame, Wilton, Connecticut.

Eight local Catholic parishes and five other nearby churches had been invited to the service that was prepared by Sister Arlene Flaherty, OP, and Sister Rose Mary Sullivan, CND. Sister Jeannette Blatz, SSND, gave the welcome and invitation to prayer.

All over the world, people came together to pray at this time which coincided with the December meeting in Lima, Peru, of world leaders gathered to “craft a comprehensive plan to address the death-dealing impact of greenhouse gases on our planet” and to prepare for the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Discerning ways to heal the planet

“Together we pray and hope that our leaders will be enlightened as they discern ways to heal the planet,” was a heartfelt part of the service.

During the service, the participants watched a very moving video of a young woman citizen of the Marshall Islands who is a poet and mother. The video captured a moment during the United Nations Climate Summit’s opening ceremony when she read a poem to her seven-month-old daughter.

Kathy Jetnil Kijiner began, “Dear Matafele Peinem,” and spoke to her child of the danger to a lagoon that might one day devour their island home. She promised in the poem that the baby would not become a “climate change refugee,” that people were marching out on the street with signs spreading the word, “marching for you, baby because we deserve to do more than just survive, we deserve to thrive, so just close those eyes, baby, and sleep in peace because we won’t let you down, you’ll see.” Her husband with the baby in his arms joined her for the ovation.

What you can do next

SSNDs and CNDs lit candles on the Advent wreath while all sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and other sisters read Advent messages asking the world communities to “Light a Pathway to Lima.” A highlight of the music was the singing of “Be Here among Us, Light in the Midst of Us,” a composition of Sister Kathleen Deignan, CND.

In “What Can You Do after Tonight,” sisters were invited to join “Fast for the Climate,” in different ways – food or carbon – in solidarity with victims of climate change. A prayer of Archbishop Desmond Tutu that asked the world leaders to “act with compassion and courage to reach an agreement that will protect our children and our planet” also was included. Information on how to buy a little solar lamp was distributed. For each lamp purchased, two more will be donated to families in Africa. These lamps provide clean, safe, and affordable lighting enabling children to study after dark.

- Sister Ethel Howley, SSND


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