Coming Together to Care for Our Common Home

We are currently in the Season of Creation – 1st September 2021 to the 4th October 2021 marks this year’s global Christian response to prayer and action for our common home. Here at Highways and Byways we have been nurtured and sustained by a long history of care and love for the earth. Fr John Wallis who founded the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Service (MSS) had a lifelong deep commitment to the environment.

Fr John Wallis, composting at Penna, Tasmania, a regular holiday and retreat place for the MSS and Fr John.

And for more than 77 years the MSS Sisters have given expression to a deep love for our fragile land and a commitment to action as they worked across rural Australia supporting people and communities in their everyday lives. This commitment to action has been taken up by Highways and Byways, in particular in the last few years.

We have recently partnered for a second year with North East Bioregional Network in north east Tasmania to restore degraded pine plantation forest.
We have had two years of Annual Small Grants where rural communities are undertaking diverse programs to care for and heal the land – they are doing amazing work with huge community effort and relatively little funding.
In 2021 our theme is Healing The Land – Healing Ourselves – Together.  43 Grants across Australia have been fundedHere are just a few wonderful examples of some of these healing our land:

Rehabilitating the Tall Tree Forests:  This public working bee, which was organised by the Busselton-Dunsborough Environment Centre (BDEC) and supported by a small program grant from Highways and Byways, planted out several degraded areas of the Ludlow Tuart State Forest with over 680 native trees, plants and shrubs, including Tuart and peppermint trees.

 

A team of seven Yuku Baja indigenous rangers in far north Queensland erected wind break fencing at two beachfront sites and planted over 156 local trees, shrubs and understory plants, including Eucalyptus, Wattle, She Oaks, Lilly Pilly, Bloodwoods, Moreton Bay Ash, Red Beech, Ribbon Grass, Cheese fruit and Crinum Lillies.

 

The Walker Flat and District Progress Association is currently replanting gaps in vegetation with acacia, black box, and mallee trees along a 3 kilometre stretch of roadside reserve between Marne Mouth and the settlement outskirts around Wongulla in south-east South Australia. A small grant from Highways and Byways means the Association has been able to upgrade its worn-out equipment. Some of these volunteers have been doing this work for 25 years!

As we celebrate this Season of Creation we are inspired also by the Social Justice Statement 2021-2022 from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor. In the Statement, the Bishops invite the whole Catholic community to join them in taking up Pope Francis’ invitation to a seven-year journey towards total ecological sustainability, guided by seven Laudato Si’ Goals.
These Goals are: response to the cry of the earth; response to the cry of the poor; ecological economics; sustainable lifestyles; ecological spirituality; ecological education; and community engagement and participatory action.
We will continue to do all we can to support these goals now and in the years ahead.