Many of the WPC congregations have been involved in advancing the Laudato Si’ encyclical of Pope Francis. Here is an article that tells of a River Witness along the Wabash River in Indiana.
Dr. Ann Scholz, SSND, extended an invitation to LCWR Region 4 members across the country to join them in a public “River Witness” on March 14 as a way of advancing Laudato Si’ and Care for our Earth.
International Rivers Day on March 14 marked the last day of Catholic Sisters Week 2022. Region 4 planned a witness for care of our rivers and water at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh! While this was initiated by Region 4 LCWR, they were inviting others to join and bring the event to a river near them. The vision: “A witnessing of sisters on the Mississippi, the Hudson, the Colorado, the Rio Grande … and many more!”
Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, answered the invitation and rose to the occasion! After all, from November to January, we had participated in the traveling Smithsonian Water |Ways exhibit in collaboration with Wabash Valley riverSCAPE and Indiana Humanities. The exhibit highlighted the role water plays in our daily lives and how it affects our local communities. Our beautiful and unique Saint Anne Shell Chapter at the Woods was one of the designated sites open for tours as part of the West Terre Haute exhibition, enabling the sharing of the story of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the sisters and postulants who reverently collected shells from the Wabash River and built the walls of the chapel in thanksgiving to Saint Anne for keeping Sisters of Providence safe in their treacherous crossing of the Atlantic back to our motherhouse in Indiana.
On International Rivers Day, along the recently restored riverfront of the Wabash River in Vigo County, Sisters of Providence, staff, community members and media representatives gathered at Fairbanks Park for a beautiful tribute and River Witness experience. The program included welcome remarks, an introduction and a Blessing of the Water—
“We sing this song like a lullaby. The song means the water is the life’s blood of our mother the earth. Water is the life’s blood of our own bodies.” —Grandma Nancy
Participants joined in prayer, songs by Rufino Zaragoza, OFM, and readings from scripture and Sally McFague’s “Living Abundance.” The event honored the life giving water and all the First Nation Peoples who used the Wah-Bah Shik-Ki, meaning pure white, river for sustenance, transportation and healing. What a beautiful and special way of ending Catholic Sisters Week and fostering greater understanding of our socio-ecological vocation within the spirit of our Providence charism!
Barbara McMullen, CDP