Category Archives: Action

University of Notre Dame converts tons of dining hall leftovers into energy

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University of Notre Dame senior Matthew Magiera stands in front of one of the school’s 5,000-gallon holding tanks of ground-up food. (William E. Odell)

Notre Dame, Indiana — On the campus of the University Notre Dame with its “Fighting Irish” mascot, green is undeniably the school color during football season. But in recent years, the 177-year-old university with about 12,000 students has been going green in other ways — reducing its carbon footprint and working towards sustainability.

In 2016, the university adopted a comprehensive sustainability strategy that featured six major areas the university intended to work on. One of them was a commitment to reduce waste, including food waste. At Notre Dame, food waste comes primarily from its two main dining halls and from campus catering events. Food waste was painfully visible on home football game weekends. Thousands of fans came to campus to cheer, eat, drink — and discard what they didn’t consume.

“One of the first things I realized when I started working at the university was that we were generating an awful lot of waste on campus, and most of it was food,” recalled Allison Mihalich, senior program director at Notre Dame’s Office of Sustainability.

Until two years ago, Mihalich worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. She’s found campus culture very different than the EPA environment. Not everyone on campus is well informed about or even interested in environmental issues. But she saw that Notre Dame administrators had a growing commitment to sustainability and wanted to both recycle and rescue food.

Mihalich said she first encountered Matthew Magiera, a chemical engineering major from Pittsford, New York, in the university’s sustainability office conference room. His research notes and calculations were spread out across the table and floor. Collaborating with Campus Dining and the Office of Sustainability, Magiera had been tasked as an intern with calculating the amount of food waste from dining hall food trays and from catering.

It was quite a challenge for a sophomore college student, even an exceptionally committed and capable one. For months, “waste weighs” of food were painstakingly recorded, analyzed and re-analyzed.

“We realized that we were generating a ton of food waste a day,” Mihalich told NCR’s EarthBeat. “Literally an actual ton of food waste every day from the two dining halls and the catering facilities!”

Two years later, Magiera shies away from taking much credit for his critical food waste research. Nonetheless, the research soon led to Notre Dame’s installation of three Grind2Energy systems, one near each of the two dining halls and one by the catering office.

Last year, Notre Dame began utilizing the Grind2Energy systems in order to process its food waste and then send it to another site for anaerobic digestion, the biological break-down of organic material that produces biogas that can be used to generate electric power.

 

 

 

 

https://www.ncronline.org/news/earthbeat/university-notre-dame-converts-tons-dining-hall-leftovers-energy

Under attack from climate change, Colombia’s farmers befriend nature

Screenshot_2020-02-22 Under attack from climate change, Colombia's farmers befriend nature
A group of farmers stand near wetlands at the village of El Torno in northern province of Sucre, Colombia. February 11, 2020. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Anastasia Moloney

SUCRE, Colombia, – Forced to leave his small farm a decade ago to escape the worst floods in Colombia’s recent history, Manuel Jimenez knows the destruction torrential rains can inflict only too well.

“The floods left behind a desert, a cemetery of dead trees and poisonous snakes. Everything was destroyed. We lost our home, crops and animals,” said the 43-year-old farmer in Pasifueres, a remote village in the northern province of Sucre.

“We lived through a cruel tragedy,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ten years on, as climate change bites, local farmers are learning to adapt to the impacts of wilder weather by working with nature, from restoring wetlands to planting trees and growing hardy rice varieties, backed by international funding.

The 2010 flooding, triggered by heavy downpours, killed about 300 people and displaced 2.2 million more, causing billions of dollars in damages across 1 million hectares (3,860 square miles).

Hardest-hit were poor farming communities in La Mojana, a region stretching across four northern provinces.

Aid officials warn extreme weather, from torrential rains to drought, will strike again and likely become the new normal.

Some parts of La Mojana are prone to drought, while others are experiencing more intense rains, said Jimena Puyana, who heads work on sustainable development in Colombia for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

But rural communities are fighting back.

With nearly $8 million of U.N. funding since 2013, about 6,000 farming and fishing families in three municipalities of La Mojana have introduced a series of measures to adapt to climate shifts and cope better with extreme weather.

The approach focuses on so-called “nature-based solutions” – which involves improving ecosystems, including forests, wetlands and watersheds – led by village farmer associations, rather than building infrastructure like dikes and levees to contain floods.

One of the main methods is to restore the wetlands and waterways that regulate the local water supply so that they can act as natural drainage systems and buffers against storms.

Prolonged flooding and sediment build-up from illegal gold mining have damaged the wetlands around farming villages, disrupting the water’s natural flow and channels.

“What we are seeking to do is to recover the capacity of the region’s water systems,” said Francisco Charry, head of climate change at Colombia’s environment ministry, which is leading the project in partnership with the UNDP.

Climate change is worsening the conditions faced by vulnerable communities that are prone to flooding, he added.

“(They) need to find a way to adapt to this new reality,” he said.

 

 

 

 

https://news.trust.org/item/20200222082405-lome9/

Healthcare networks launch anti-human trafficking training

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Stock image. Credit: HTWE/Shutterstock

– A new partnership is aiming to expand training for medical professionals on how to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.

Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking (Global Strategic Operatives) announced a new collaboration and partnership with the Selah Way Foundation, a global network of leading anti-sexual exploitation service providers at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 30 in Washington, D.C.

Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, one of the co-founders of Global Strategic Operatives, told CNA that the organization decided to go into the medical field because studies have shown that about 88% of victims of human trafficking seek medical treatment at some point while they are being trafficked.

As a member of the Order of Malta, a lay Catholic religious order, O’Hara-Rusckowski said she considers her work in combating human trafficking to be an ideal way to live out the three charisms of the order: caring for the sick, caring for the poor, and defending the faith.

“My whole life right now is living out my faith,” she said. “I can’t think of any better way of taking those charisms and really combining them to live out my faith.”

A pilot program has already begun at six hospital systems located around the country–Baptist Health in Florida, Advocate Aurora Health in Illinois, Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, Harris Health System in Texas, Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, RWJ Barnabas Health in New Jersey, and Northwell Health in New York. These locations were chosen due to higher-than-average rates of human trafficking in their areas.

Staff members at hospitals in these healthcare systems have been trained to spot signs that a person may be a victim of human trafficking.

Representatives from each of the six hospital systems, Homeland Security Investigations (a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), as well as Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Ross Spano (R-FL), spoke at the press conference in praise of Global Strategic Operatives.

Karen Stanford, the manager of the emergency department at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, told CNA that the reality of human trafficking was brought home to her after her daughter was approached by a potential trafficker two years ago. Her hospital is part of the Advocate Aurora Health system.

“We live in a gated community, and so it was a bit of a shock,” she said. The experience prompted her to reach out to Paula Besler, vice president of Selah Freedom, looking to bring some sort of educational program to Lutheran General to better identify survivors of human trafficking.

“Then we had this awesome opportunity to partner with CommonSpirit Health, who brought some of their tools forward. And then we were able to fly in survivors to provide us with education and disbanding some of the [misconceptions] that were barriers to identifying,” said Stanford.

CommonSpirit Health is a Catholic health system that received a grant in 2019 to help combat human trafficking. It partners with Global Strategic Operatives.

As a healthcare professional, Stanford told CNA that there is a tendency to be “non-judgemental,” which has resulted in some red flags going unnoticed.

“If somebody comes in [to the emergency room] who we are suspecting is using drugs or prostituting, we’re oftentimes thinking that it is a choice, when the reality is, and what we’ve learned so very much around here, is that’s not necessarily true. It’s because they’re being forced into it,” said Stanford.

Since the training was put in place at her hospital, Stanford said that there have been increased identifications of people who were trafficked, and next month, the entire health system will launch a task force to further expand the program to 25 additional sites.

“I’m really excited to help that move forward,” said Stanford. “Now that there’s this recognition, there’s a great amount of momentum in emergency medicine to start the education and planning.”

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/healthcare-networks-launch-anti-human-trafficking-training-49853

Nuns’ retreat house, built by Muslim benefactor, signifies interfaith bond

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Scripture text adorns a wall of the monastery for the Carmel of Mary, Queen of the Universe and of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in Zamboanga City, Philippines. Ibrahim Nuño, a Muslim civil engineer whose family has helped the community, constructed a new building for the Carmelite monastery, for free. (Charity Durano)

Zamboanga City, Philippines — A two-story retreat house built by a Muslim benefactor opened a new stream of income for a community of Carmelite nuns in the southern Philippines and is the most visible sign of long-standing ties between the nuns and their Muslim neighbors.

“Without waiting for me to finish the appeal he said that he would build it completely free,” recalled Sr. Mary Agnes Xavier Guillen of the Discalced Nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, who meets with visitors from outside the community. She was speaking of Ibrahim Nuño, a Muslim civil engineer with roots in Zamboanga City, and whose family has helped the community of Catholic nuns in various ways. When the St. Teresa Hall next to their chapel needed urgent repairs to its roof, Guillen reached out to Nuño, who offered to construct a completely new building that was completed last year

“We have formed friendships with the Muslims through the years. They come to share their concerns, their problems and to ask for prayers,” said Guillen. She noted the common devotion of Christians and Muslims to Our Lady of the Pillar, patroness of Zamboanga City, one of the largest cities in the country. (The devotion to La Virgen del Pilar, originally brought by the Spanish colonizers in the 1700s, remains the most popular Marian devotion in the region, where she is revered as a miracle-worker and a guardian.)

“I remembered the kindness and the offer of our old friend to help if we needed anything,” said Guillen, who reached out to Nuño, president and managing director of a Luzon-based construction company known for malls, office and residential buildings.

“Carmel’s presence in Zamboanga is a witness to the value of prayer in the life of everyone, Christians or Muslims,” said Guillen.

Founded in 1956, there are 18 Carmelite nuns who make up the Carmel of Mary, Queen of the Universe and of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in Zamboanga City. Their average age is over 60 years old, with the youngest member in her 40s. It is one of 23 monasteries of the Discalced Nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, or OCD, in the country, seven of which are in the Mindanao region, including the one in Zamboanga City, according to the 2019 Catholic Directory of the Philippines.

For 49-year-old math teacher Ruth Guerrero, “the presence of a Carmelite monastery connotes a kind of spiritual assurance, that is, we have prayer warriors.” Guerrero, who teaches at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Zamboanga University in the city and is a member of the formation team for first-year students, added, “whenever I happen to be around the area or pass by where their monastery is, even without entering their compound, I feel a quiet assurance of serenity.”

Guerrero still remembers how her mother offered prayers at the monastery when Guerrero took her board exams, as well as at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. “The practice has always been there since we believe that is their vocation to devote time for prayer. It’s also like we want to make sure the Lord hears us.”

The Santa Teresa House of Prayer is the second project that Nuño has done for the Carmelite community. According to Guillen, “[Nuño] has expressed to us that building it is an honored privilege for him, one that will bring blessings to him and his family.”

The impetus to initially repair and then build a new retreat house came out of a need for extra space. Guillen said that diocesan and religious priests often ask to stay at the monastery for a retreat but they have had to turn down some requests because they only had two guest rooms.

The new house of prayer means that they can accommodate more priests and members of other religious communities in its seven guest rooms. The open space ground floor can be used by Catholic schools for gatherings for their staff, faculty and students. Guillen adds that it is another source of income for their community.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/people/nuns-retreat-house-built-muslim-benefactor-signifies-interfaith-bond

Stella Maris supports seafarers facing unseen crisis at Christmas

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Stella Maris port chaplain with seafarer

While most businesses and companies have started winding down operations in preparation for the Christmas holidays, global maritime charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) will be busy supporting the many seafarers who face unseen difficulties this time of year.

The organisation’s port chaplains and ship visitors in Great Britain and around the world are working through Christmas to ensure that crew members, and particularly those going through crises, receive vital pastoral and practical support.

In one recent case, Stella Maris stepped in to help the Kenyan crew of a vessel who lacked food and water and had received death threats from the ship’s owner. The charity arranged with the local church for the crew to be visited and is working with colleagues to get the situation resolved.

“This will be a hugely stressful time for not only the crew but for their families back home too. Christmas can be a lonely time for many seafarers, without family around, but for those caught up in such awful circumstances, the effect upon their mental wellbeing is huge,” said Martin Foley, Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator.

Last week, a Stella Maris chaplain in Southern Africa learnt about a fishing vessel that was arrested in port with six seafarers on board who are without sufficient food and water. They have also not been paid their wages for a few months now.

The local Stella Maris team intervened, providing emergency food and water supplies. One of the seafarers was shivering from the cold so the chaplain gave him his own warm jacket for which he was really grateful to have. Stella Maris continues to monitor the situation.

Martin said, “Sadly, situations like these are not unfamiliar with Stella Maris port chaplains and ship visitors, as the charity’s HYPERLINK “www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/life-sea-report” Life at Sea Report – the second edition of which will be published next year – has shown.”

He added: “The sight of a Stella Maris port chaplain or ship visitor going on board a ship is a welcome one for many seafarers, especially at this time of year when we ensure that seafarers are not forgotten and show our appreciation for the sacrifices they make throughout the year.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38585

Sister thanks ACN for bringing smiles to 19,000 children this Christmas

Sr. AnnieSr Annie with children image: ACN

Thousands of Syrian children will be smiling this Christmas thanks to Aid to the Church in Need – according to a Sister helping suffering Christians.

In an audio-message, project partner Sister Annie Demerjian thanked the charity’s benefactors for supporting children living in the ruins of the Syrian crisis.

She said: “ACN brings smiles to more than 19,000 children all over Syria because of your Christmas gifts.”

For the eighth year running, ACN is providing Christmas parcels for displaced children, including warm clothes, shoes, toys, devotional items and other essentials.

Sr Annie praised ACN’s work with the elderly and disabled Christians in Aleppo, providing food, soap and other washing items, medicine, clothes and shoes. She said: “You can’t imagine, when the old receive the aid, how they cry. They open their hands and they thank you. They thank you and they told us that they pray for you. Really you are in their prayers daily. They are grateful for all that you are offering us.”

ACN supported a project in Aleppo, at the request of Latin Bishop George Abou Khazen of Aleppo, to provide food packages for the poorest Christian families, which also include financial aid for fuel and heating oil.

Sr Annie said: “I can’t express my feeling for how you will help to warm so many houses because of the fuel you are providing.”

During the civil war, more than 1,700 Christians were killed and more than 600 abducted.

Christians in Syria have declined by up to two-thirds within the last decade. In Aleppo, the Christian population has declined by more than 80 percent since 2010, falling from 180,000 to 29,000.

Throughout Syria, ACN has provided education scholarships, medicine, rent money for housing, repairs to homes and churches, and support for Sisters and priests. Last year, the charity supported 185 projects in the country.

In her audio-message, Sr Annie said: “I am very happy to have this opportunity to send you a message to thank you for all that you are doing for our people and our families, especially those who are suffering from the consequences of the war.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38531

‘Be a voice of conscience,’ pope tells Catholic press

C2A03062-3A14-4019-BFAD-D3C0EE2BF36FPope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

.- Pope Francis told an association of Italian Catholic news agencies Monday to stay close to the Magisterium and to use their work to distinguish what is good from what is evil.

“To renew your harmony with the magisterium of the Church, I urge you to be a voice of conscience, of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, human choices from inhuman ones,” he said Sept. 23.

“Because today there is a mishmash that does not stand out, and you must help in this. The journalist – who is the chronicler of history – is called to reconstruct the memory of facts, to work for social cohesion, to tell the truth at all costs.”

Pope Francis addressed the Union of Catholic Italian Press to mark their 60th anniversary. He noted a part of the organization’s statutes, which describes itself as “a professional and ecclesial association that finds inspiration in the service of the person, in the Gospel, and in the Magisterium of the Church.”

He counseled the Catholic press to have courage, and to be always respectful and never arrogant. “The [field of] communication needs true words in the midst of so many empty words,” he said.

“And in this you have a great responsibility: your words are told to the world and shape it, your stories can generate spaces of freedom or slavery, of responsibility or dependence on power.”

The pope warned that what a journalist writes is sometimes passed through the “still” of “financial convenience” and the truth gets left behind for “what is not true, what is not beautiful, and what is not good.”

In the era of web journalism, he said the journalist’s task is to identify credible sources, and then contextualize, interpret, and properly order them.

He criticized the idea that a man could die from cold on the street and it would not be news, while instead, every news agency will talk about the stock exchange falling by two points.

Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said, “to give voice to those who do not have it; to tell the ‘good news’ that generates social friendship: not to tell fairy tales, but good real news.”

Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Manuel Lozano Garrido (“Lolo”) a Spanish journalist who lived at the time of the Spanish war.

Beatified in 2010, he was the first secular journalist to be declared ‘blessed’ by the Church, Pope Francis said.

Despite living with an illness which forced him to be in a wheelchair for 28 years, Bl. Garrido “did not stop loving his profession,” the pope said.

“Truly a beautiful example to follow!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/be-a-voice-of-conscience-pope-tells-catholic-press-19775