Welcome to the Through Shadows newsletter for June and July 2023.

I’m going to start with the most recent event – the Congregation Gathering held in Cabra from 17th to 21st July. What a pleasure it was to meet so many of you and to hear your stories and passion for education, justice and ministry.

Pictured above are Sisters from Argentina, Belfast and South Africa, with the Climate Justice Candle loaned to the Congregation for the week of the Gathering by Eco Congregation Ireland. The candle was lit by Sr Kathleen Egan and a prayer for the Earth was read by Sr Susie O’Rawe.

Just as Ireland has experienced the wettest July on record, wildfires rage in Southern Europe, New Orleans faces a dangerous heatwave and South Africa has had the most blackout days in history this year with daily power cuts from its ageing coal-fired power stations extending to almost 10 hours a day … the many challenges facing our planet and its people.

But as well as urgent action for climate justice, hope is needed, because hope battles apathy. So, this edition of Through Shadows starts by bringing you some good news stories:

Brazil Amazon deforestation drops 34 per cent under Lula
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon dropped by a third during the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term, according to government satellite data. Read more.

High seas treaty: historic deal to protect international waters finally reached at the UN
After almost 20 years of talks, United Nations member states agreed in recent months on a legal framework for the protection of the almost two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside of national boundaries. Read more.

French to get bonus to make do and mend clothes
In July, it was announced that France is to launch a bonus scheme to persuade consumers to repair their clothes and worn-out shoes rather than throwing them away and buying new ones. From October, the bonus will come in the form of a discount worth between €6 (£5) and €25 (£21) per repair. Read more.

Tree of Hopes from World Refugee Day

In the last newsletter, you heard about our plans to mark World Refugee Day on 20th June with a celebration of resilience and solidarity in the Resource Centre in Cabra. Thanks to all who came to the event, where our wonderful speakers from Cameroon, Nigeria and Ukraine shared their experiences of leaving their homes in search of safety in Ireland. We heard about the sisterhood and support of the Young Mother’s Network, run by Marie Williams in the Justice Office Ireland. Everyone at the event wrote down their hope for the future – for peace, for their loved ones, for the world, for refugees, and these hopes were attached to a native Irish Rowan tree, which was then planted in the Cosmic Garden in Cabra during the July Gathering, with all of the written hopes placed beneath the tree’s roots.

Season of Creation 2023

The Season of Creation is marked from 1st September to 4th October (Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi) and a new Care for Our Common Home webpage is now live on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, including resources promoting biodiversity on parish grounds, a river ritual and meditation, tree planting resources, and much more.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on 9th August each year, and this year the focus is particularly on Indigenous youth as agents of change for self determination.

In advance of 9th August, here is a short video from CAFOD in the UK, of a prayer called You are always with us from Peru spoken in five indigenous languages – Asháninka, Kichwa, Awajún, Shipibo, Matsigenka.

A Special Doughnut – a new booklet on Doughnut Economics

As our work continues on familiarising ourselves with the concept of Doughnut Economics, we have a new tool at our disposal, a booklet by Sr Maeve McMahon, A Special Doughnut. At the July Gathering each house and community was given a printed copy of the booklet, and I can now share with you the online version. I hope you find it interesting and useful!

All about birds…

Finally, I was happy to spot an article in The Guardian newspaper about a new app that can help to identify birdsong and photos of birds, the Merlin Bird ID app (free of charge). It might be a nice addition to walks and outdoor time.