Thursday, February 13, 2020

Vigil: Honoring Sister Dorothy Stang

We went to a beautiful vigil service honoring Sister Dorothy Stang on the day after the 15th anniversary of her murder.  We heard poignant reflections and readings about the importance of standing up for those who are least represented in this world and for environmental justice.  Inspiring.

Here's an excerpt from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur website:  Sister Dorothy Stang went to Brazil in 1966 where she worked to help poor farmers build independent futures for their families until her murder in 2005.
Over the years, the work became progressively more dangerous for the Sisters in Brazil and for the farmers and their families. Sister Dorothy understood that the rain forest, also called the earth's lungs, plays a critical role in the exchange of gases between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Her frustration grew as she witnessed the destruction of this natural resource so vital to her people's and the planet's future. She saw the forest and the people plundered for financial gain by illegal logging operations, land speculators, and cattle ranchers. She witnessed political leaders allowing the destruction to continue.

On February 12, 2005, on a dirt road at the Boa Esperanca settlement in a rural area in Para, two hired gunmen fired six shots and killed Sister Dorothy. She was murdered because she had put into place programs that created self-sufficient communities of people committed to their own independence as well as to the sustenance of the rain forest.

As the gunmen approached Sister Dorothy, she took her Bible from her bag and began to read the Beatitudes: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice...
Following Sister Dorothy's death, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva put nearly 20,000 of the Amazon's 1.6 million square miles under federal environmental protection. This land is located in the Anapu region that was Sister Dorothy's home. This action gives hope to human rights defenders and environmentalists, and it encourages the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the people of the Anapu region to continue working in the tradition of their role model and compatriot, Sister Dorothy.
Her work is recognized around the world for its boldness, its beauty, and its consistency with the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to help and educate the poor.