By Sister Denise Lyttle
In preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Amazon, in November of last year, I, as a Sister of Mercy living in Guyana, participated in a regional gathering that took place in the Rupununi, located in the South of Guyana, bordering on Brazil.
There, I learned that our Amazon needs to be cared for by all, not just by those who live in the Amazon. As someone said, “the pain and groans of our people are the groans of our Mother Earth” who is calling us to be more conscious and more responsible in caring for the “lung” of our world, on which depends our life and that of future generations.
That means that, as a part of nature, Mother Earth and this diversity, I am responsible for her care. All that is happening in the Amazon must be important to me. I cannot be indifferent to deforestation, to the contamination of the rivers and land, nor indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in the Amazon region.
As Sisters of Mercy, we—along with associates, colleagues from ministry and friends—have also participated in two discussions with representatives from REPAM, a Catholic Church network that promotes the rights and dignity of people living in the Amazon. These conversations, done through the Lens of Laudato Si’, touched on many issues and concerns for our region, including land titles for our indigenous people for lands that they have occupied for generations, pollution of our water from both garbage in the city and gold mining in the interior regions, corruption, the need for a spirituality that meets the people, the impact of deforestation, and the benefits and challenges of finding oil in Guyana.
I believe that the Church of Guyana must make a strong and serious commitment to our brothers and sisters who live in the Amazon region, to help to maintain or strengthen their way of caring for the earth, their culture and their language. It is also a commitment for the Church and all its members to work toward greater consciousness in all areas. For instance, caring for the environment begins in each home. We sisters have responded by composting and reusing or recycling as much as possible.
I hope that this Synod on the Amazon, with the contributions of our sisters and brothers in the region, will help us and help our Church to have a “face of the Amazon.” That it helps us to be more conscientious in the care of our common home. That it brings us to a more serious commitment to live in harmony with our Mother Nature and with all the beauty and diversity that exists in her. And to value the life of everyone, without distinction.