Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Holy Names Sisters, Associates, address water rights, responsibilities
the Inland Register
(From the Jan. 15, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
After months of research and reflection, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJMs) and their lay Associates – including 75 Sisters and three dozen Associates in the Diocese of Spokane — announced a campaign of education and action in response to the economic exploitation of water.
The campaign stems from the Congregation’s recent approval of its corporate stand on water, which declares that “water is a human right and public good.”
According to UNICEF, a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease related to unclean water and inadequate sanitation.
The SNJM corporate stand affirms that water is a sacred gift that connects all life; access to clean water is a basic human right; freshwater’s value to the common good trumps its possible commercial value; and freshwater is a shared legacy, a public trust, and a collective responsibility. Sisters and Associates will encourage actions and policies that promote the corporate stand, and oppose those that don’t.
Overwhelmingly, some 1,200 Holy Names Sisters and their 600 lay Associates worldwide voted to affirm the corporate stand.
The corporate stand on water comes four years after the SNJMs approved a stand against the trafficking of human persons. “We maintain that just as women and children are not for sale, water is not for sale,” the Congregation said in a booklet that was prepared to educate Sisters and Associates about the water issue.
During the months of research and reflection that preceded the vote, Sisters and Associates compiled facts and shared stories of water as a human right and a public good.
Holy Names Sister Sue Woodruff of Portland, Ore., remembers a childhood experience that she can never duplicate today: standing along Celilo Falls on the Columbia River and watching her uncles as they fished for Chinook.
“I was there when my grandma and her daughters, including my mother, preserved the fish for the rest of the year,” she said. “It was wonderful. Mostly it was the sound of the water crashing and rushing over and through the rocks that marked a visit to the falls.”
But in 1957 the falls were submerged by the construction of The Dalles Dam.
Concerns about the precarious global water situation and the sacredness of water led Sister Sue, along with Associate Sally Duffy of Spokane and Sister Mimi Maloney of Olympia, to serve on an 11-member international committee of SNJMs who spent months researching water issues. Sister Mimi and Sally maintain the SNJMs’ online lending library, which includes water resources, at http://www.educatingforthe21stcentury.org/
Among the committee’s findings and observations:
• Almost 50 percent of the developing world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and more than 884 million people use unsafe sources of drinking water, according to UNICEF.
The Congregation urges the public to join the SNJMs in their pledge to use water as a human right and a public good. Here are things that individuals or groups can do to protect water resources:
• Drive less: air pollution from car exhaust eventually becomes water pollution.