Mary Nguyen Thi Phuong Lan is a Dominican Sister of Our Lady of the Rosary in Vietnam. She studied in universities in Vietnam and the Philippines and has worked in formation in Vietnam.
Some parish pastors in Vietnam responded to Pope Francis' call to care for the Earth by spending time before or after Mass helping Christians to understand the meaning of this encyclical letter so that they would know how to care for the common house and to better protect the environment for family, society and all of the world. Quoting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Francis writes: "For human beings ... to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life — these are sins" (Laudato Si', 8).
Communities of our congregation studied the encyclical in parishes. But each member of our congregation also has a responsibility to build the future of this planet by making the environment in her small community better and safer. One community, known as the St. Holy Family community, includes six sisters and 17 poor children who are trying to carry out the calling of Francis. It has a large garden with many different kinds of fruit trees, such as rambutans, durians, avocados, mangos, mangosteens and jackfruits.
We grow these fruit trees without using chemicals or growth substances to stimulate the fruits. We use fresh water to irrigate the plants and the dung of chickens and pigs to fertilize these trees. We are not interested in earning more money from the fruit crops; we pay attention to the health of the community.
Especially as nuns, we must realize that "our responsibility with creation, and our duty toward nature and the Creator, are an essential part of our faith," as Francis quoted Pope John Paul II. Then Francis continued: "It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognize the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions" (Laudato Si', 64).
Furthermore, it is our responsibility to educate children about the protection of all fruit trees in the garden, including not picking fruits and throwing them unconsciously onto the ground. And when they are grown, they will be aware of caring for the health of their community by not using chemicals on fruit trees and vegetables. They will also know how to protect the environment's safety and not destroy plants rashly.
We're delighted to bring you this excerpt from the monthly feature "The Life", courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month, "The Life" asked the panelists to reflect on how they are carrying out Francis' call for caring for the Earth. Read the full article here.