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Sister Ann Griffin tells about a special day for the people of the Favella in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
One of the Spiritans has a small patch of land on the city outskirts called a Sitio (small garden, green area). It has a lovely pond, trees, small vegetable garden, flowers, walking areas, a chapel, a centre for meetings, kitchen and refectory. We have built a compost unit and recycled organic waste, the soil from which is used for growing veggies. He invited me to be involved in doing Formation on Care for the Earth in the sitio.
In practice it involves organizing the families in the Favela (or concrete jungle) to visit the green area. It is very educational and the people just love the day trips to the Sitio.
The first part of the morning is spent walking about and connecting with nature, smelling the flowers, touching the trees and hearing the birds. The reconnection with nature is then followed with formation on Laudato Si, seeing the reality and what small steps we can take to change our relationship with the environment. After lunch we walk through the area, visiting the compost unit, organic soil and vegetable garden.
The day concludes with a liturgy where all receive a head of lettuce or cabbage. In evaluation the people said they loved the open space, it helped them remember their childhood and make contact with nature. They had experienced a lot of suffering and pain in their families and communities due to Covid: fear, unemployment, sickness and death. This was their first outing since Covid and they said it was a mental health day.Thank God the day had gone very well. I had put a massive amount of time and work into the preparation. The intention is to plan a few more similar events in the New Year. Again, all will depend on the virus.