In April 2006, we, (Srs. Assumpta Butler and Mary Kate Hagan), began a small ecological initiative at ‘Glor na Mara’ in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Our vision is around exploring new ways of educating and awareness-raising towards a new world view appropriate for our times and especially in the present environmental crisis. Working from the premise that the human species has become disconnected from the natural world, we believe it is urgent to reconnect with the earth at a deeper level with a new consciousness of living in an interconnected web of life. We promote a sense of place and belonging with a profound sense of the Sacred in all of it, in the context of a meaningful and inspiring new origin story – the awesome evolutionary Story of the Universe. We are very much aware of the need for a spirituality shaped by the bigger picture and the interconnectedness of the whole community of life here. Out of this context we explore sustainable lifestyle choices.
Our aim is to promote among the local people organic growing as a more sustainable and wholesome way of relating to the earth. Also in more recent times we see it as a response to some of the questions and struggles of our time re global warming and the approaching inevitability of the end of our oil-based economy. We are very much aware that as this happens we will have a food crisis affecting everyone, hence the need to plan towards the future when all food will have to be grown locally without chemicals. We have developed part of our two-acre field here at Glor Na Mara, into a Community Garden in collaboration with the Organic Centre in Rossinver. We see it as an important way of re-skilling local people. An extremely enthusiastic and hard-working group of people with Ingrid and Klaus, our gardeners, have transformed the land here into an incredibly abundant garden. Their training involves hands-on experience as well as theory, sessions on cooking nutritious organic food, enabling them to grow and cook their own vegetables/fruit/herbs. We also have the potential on our land here to develop garden allotments for the local people, which no doubt will play a vital role into the future.
Community Garden at ‘Glor Na Mara’, Bundoran, Co Donegal
We see the preparation of young people for life without oil as crucial so we have offered a plot of land to the Transition Year of the local secondary school, whereby they have hands-on experience in organic growing and later learn how to market their produce. We also see school gardens as an important means of re-skilling of young people for the rocky road ahead.
Transition Towns – The Rebirth Of Local Communities
It is disconcerting to realise that everything we have right now is depending on oil. However in recent times we have been promoting and supporting a very resilient and farseeing initiative, namely the ‘Transition Towns Initiative’. It involves the whole town/village/community planning towards a future without oil, which is a very empowering way that the whole community can move forward together. We see this as long term planning towards the alleviation of poverty and systemic change. Transition Towns lead to the rebirth of local communities, which will generate their own sustainable energy systems, local food, organic growing, housing, local enterprise, small businesses and the development of local currencies to keep money in the local area. An important part of the movement is the whole town working together on an energy descent plan, seeing how they can reduce their carbon footprint. This is not about returning to the distant past but far from doom and gloom, this is an empowering, resilient and dynamic way of being which encourages the creativity and skills of all local people. (www.transitiontowns.org)
Community garden women with their first salad bags for sale
Aware of the clear connection between poverty and the environmental destruction of the planet, our connection with Sr. Maire McGann and the Sabon Rayuwa Ecology Centre in Nigeria, has been a very valuable resource, enabling people to make the connection between human poverty and the degradation of the earth.
We have been offering courses here to the local people on the New Cosmology, biodiversity, energy, organic growing, cooking, herbs, health, spirituality, ritual and sustainable lifestyle choices. During the courses we share our vision of reclaiming our connection with the natural world by promoting a sense of place and belonging with a profound sense of the Sacred in all of it, in the context of the unfolding story of the universe.
Other ministry areas of involvement:
School environmental projects.
Part-time Resource teaching in the local Primary School.
Workshops provincially and nationally in the context of the Universe Story
Provincial Retreat days on the New Cosmology
Collaboration with the Western Province in writing/developing retreat days on the New Cosmology for leaving Cert students.
Writing introductory sessions on the Universe Story as the context for the ‘Lifestart’ Programme (for parents of 0-4 year olds)
Mary Kate O’Hagan rsm and Assumpta Butler rsm