In the Summer edition of our newsletter I wrote about the arrival of the Passionist nuns. This led to the presence of a new dimension of community life at Minsteracres. Since then another opportunity for community development has opened up.

This development builds on the legacy of Thomas Berry, an American Passionist who challenges us to review the way in which we relate to mother earth. It is clear that we cannot go on exploiting the earth and its resources. Berry suggests we relate to creation as a community of subjects and not as a collection of objects.

The insights of Thomas Berry inspired pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudato si’ which was published in 2015. In this document the pope clarifies the church’s stance with regard to care for the environment. All that exists is part of God’s creation. The pope also opens our eyes to the intrinsic connection between the exploitation of the earth and its resources and the increase of poverty and injustice in many parts of the world.

During its recent provincial chapter the Passionists in England and Wales reflected on the ways in which these insights could be taken on board. As a consequence the province committed itself to disinvesting from fossil fuels within the next four years and to pro-actively supporting initiatives that promote the protection of the earth, our common home.

The chapter also decided to support initiatives within the Passionist family that focus on a new way of living in relationship to the rest of creation and reach out to the suffering Christ as he comes to us through the crucified earth.

In view of this the Passionist provincial council decided to support the initiative to develop a contemplative community presence in the walled garden at Minsteracres. The garden came under our own management after the departure of Daybreak at the end of 2015. Since then Andrew Pennington and the conservation volunteers worked hard to prepare the ground by restoring the paths and creating vegetable beds.

The decision of the provincial council gives the development of the garden a spiritual community base. It offers an ideal space to live simply and sustainably in relationship with the earth and implement an important dimension of the Passionist ethos.

Lya Vollering is taking the lead in this development. She belongs to the wider Passionist family through her membership of the Community of the Passion.

I expect this development will offer inspiration and orientation to us all to find ways in which we can live more simply and sustainably and relate with respect to the earth and all its inhabitants. Please keep this development in your prayers.

For more information about Thomas Berry CP visit:  www.thomasberry.org