This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Sister Denise Turcotte, Coordinator of the Justice and Environment Mission Group of the Sisters of Holy Cross:
What motivates you to be engaged in environmental issues? As a leader on environmental issues in the faith community, how do you make a difference?
I love nature and spend as much time outside as I can. It is nurturing for me. I want to preserve its integrity and diversity for others. Earth is our Mother and I believe it is our moral ethical responsibility to care for her. As a Sister of Holy Cross, I am the chairperson of our Justice and Environment Mission Group in New Hampshire and the coordinator for the other chairpersons who represent Peru, Haiti and various areas of Canada. Last November, the Environment and Justice Mission Group hosted an educational and reflective day, “Global Climate Change, Learn, Grow, Share and Act”, in Manchester. Recently, we added the Moms Clean Air Force “fact sheets” to our tool kit.
Why does environment stewardship matter in our everyday lives?
Protecting our environment is a political issue as well a spiritual, economic, educational issue which needs to be addressed. We are all One… All is interconnected, especially in this global society in which we live. We live on EARTH, breathe her air, use water for our daily needs, eat food that is grown in the soil that are warmed by the sun, allowing the wind to blow through our hair or fly our kites.
How can one mom, dad or grandparent make a difference in such a big problem?
Yes, the problems are huge, but I believe that we can each make a difference in our daily choices. Do we do the simple things like recycling, growing some of our own food, vote, stay informed on issues that impact us, earth, all species? What kind of modeling do we live? Do I live as a tourist (using resources) or a pilgrim (relating to sense and sacredness of place)? It is one decision at a time, one step, one voice, one action. Together we can make a difference which will impact the next generation of all species. Remember we are all part of the web of life.
What more can we do to make a difference?
I dream of many more solar panels, less use of fossil fuels, conserving energy, of children who are playing outdoors, with rocks, sticks, discovering animal tracks. It is rewarding to know that many of our rivers are now cleaner, that the number of bald eagles nesting in NH has increased, sustainable communities are emerging. It is encouraging that more people are using their voices to question politicians, corporate power, etc…
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members (moms, dads, grandparents) to know?
We are part of an evolving universe and we have a responsibility to live consciously. Some ways of living consciously are:
Continue to bring your children outdoors, let them experience nature: watch an ant carry its food, the buds burst into flowers and leaves, bluebirds nesting. I believe we need to teach our children to make healthy choices. Do we/they need the latest plastic series of toys? Invite them/us to ponder the connection between this toy and the oil used to manufacture the plastic, and the impact on Mother Earth. We can approach this in a discovery or “did you know” fashion, but not put anyone on a guilt trip. Awaken children and adults to a sense of awe and wonder which will lead to questions, education, and with time, action. Teach them that they can ask questions of adults and share the information they are learning.
We are all part of this web of life which is a very fascinating and wonderful place to live. We need to stay courageous and work together.
Denise Turcotte, CSC, MST, is currently coordinator of the Justice and Environment Mission Group of the Sisters of Holy Cross and on staff at Berakah Retreat/Spirituality Center in Pittsfield, NH, where she co-facilitates, The Mystical Perspective of Earth and Cosmic Consciousness and day programs such as Global Climate Change. Denise taught Ecology and other earth related courses at Notre Dame College, Manchester, NH. She worked for NH Audubon for 6 years. For more information about the International Justice work of Holy Cross see www.holycrossjustice.org