Well, it was drizzling and we need rain . . .so the seventh celebration of Sr. Dorothy Stang, which had been planned outdoors around the ceiba tree (a tree native to Brazil), was moved into NDNU Cunningham Chapel. Happily the spirits of the participants were not dampened.
It is becoming a tradition that the NDNU Stang Center plans a memorial event for the February 12 anniversary of the assassination of Sr. Dorothy in Brazil. Now with the ceiba tree flourishing and seating in place, planning this year was to have included planting the first of the purple lantana in an outside circle. (Our deer seem not to like its taste!) Future plans include enclosing the circle with bushes for privacy. We hope that this spot will become a place for conversation, reflection and conflict resolution in the future. A labyrinth is also planned within the circle. We think that Dorothy would approve!
Eli Latimerlo, Director of the Stang Center, told the story of the ceiba tree and of Sr. Dorothy's concern for social justice and environmental justice; Father Greg Fitz Campus chaplain, led us in prayer; Professor Cheryl Joseph, Co-Director of the Stang Center, spoke of the need for respect for all living things; Sr. Margaret Hoffman commented on Sr. Dorothy's life and spirituality and the ongoing challenge to rainforest survival; Early Learning Center Students and Notre Dame Elementary School students sang peace songs; and Notre Dame High School students read segments of Sr. Dorothy's letters from a series of Beatitude images of the rainforest. Mark, our creative gardener, who has already contributed seating and planting to the site, was given an award for his effort. The memorial concluded with the playing of a portion of the new opera by Evan Mack, "Angel of the Amazon."
A Notre Dame High School student reads one of Sr. Dorothy's letters.
Our work is cut out for us. To honor the memory of Sr. Dorothy we can keep informed about the rainforests which affect us all; we can pray for a cessation of the violence surrounding the forest and the land and its use; pray for justice for the poor farmers whom Dorothy loved, and change of heart for those who continue to ravage the land and the poor. As the people proclaim: "We have not buried Dorothy; we have planted her."