Sister Veronica Dunne of the Sisters of our Lady of the Missions is part of a group of women religious who have come together to make an impact donation of $100,000 to Climate Change Connection, a charitable non-government organization working to educate Manitobans about climate change and facilitate climate change solutions “We were called to make this donation together for several reasons,” she explains. “Just the fact that climate change has now become a climate crisis, and now some are talking about a climate catastrophe … this is the challenge of our times. This planet is the only home we have and we’re trashing it, out of self-interest.”
The group, composed of seven religious orders1, made the donation partially in response to Laudato Si, an encyclical letter of Pope Francis addressing the care of our common home, the earth. In the document, he called for people around the world to consider how they can ensure a healthy and sustainable future for all, especially those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Sister Dunne explains that all orders make donations to charities that are near and dear to their mission, including those that are lesser known, but this was the first time that the orders pool their contributions to make a larger impact.
“Réseau Compassion Network supported us by doing research on possible recipients of a donations and putting together some documents and guidelines to help us discern,” she explains. “We were so impressed with the Climate Change Connection. They are so committed to the care of our common home. They didn’t phrase it that way, but they certainly carry that energy. Their vision and connection to the earth was very powerful.”
The donation has been made, and the Sisters agreed that Climate Change Connection can use the funds as a catalyst for any number of projects. “They had three projects that they proposed to us,” Sister Dunne continues. “Each project was worthwhile, and rather than choose, we decided to let them determine where our funds will make the most difference.”
While Sister Dunne is looking forward to hearing about the results of their donation, she also appreciates the chance to work with other orders to make a difference in their shared community. “It was exciting to work on this together, as religious orders have historically been quite separate from one another in the works they did, and in fact, I understand there was considerable competition in the past,” she shares with a laugh. “That really hasn’t been a part of my religious life, it’s been more about collaboration. But we didn’t have that many connections with other orders and working together was really energizing!”
The whole process, from the support of Paul Vermette, Director of strategic initiatives at Réseau Compassion Network, to gather information and help guide the selection, to the collective work of choosing a charity, was so powerful that the Sisters would like to do it again. “When we talk to each other, we become more aware of a variety of perspectives,” she shares. “As religious orders are coming to the end of their time, we’re wanting to use any resources we have to support missions that have been historically important to us. So we’re hoping to do this once a year, for as long as we can.”
1 The religious orders involved in this impact donation are The Grey Nuns of Montréal, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Sisters of the Cross, Missionary Oblate Sisters of St. Boniface, the Soeurs du Sauveur and Sisters of our Lady of the Missions.