Jesuit Father John Surette has a dream for the Society of Jesus. Responding to Father General Adolfo Nicolás’s call for Jesuits to explore the “frontiers, those geographical and spiritual places where others do not reach or find difficult to reach,” Fr. Surette looks to a frontier very close to home: planet Earth.
“Forests are shrinking, water tables are falling, soils are eroding, fisheries are collapsing, rivers are running dry, glaciers and ice caps are melting, coral reefs are bleaching, the ocean is becoming more acidic, the atmosphere is warming, plant and animal species are going into extinction at a greater rate and the children of all species are increasingly being born sick. In all of this and much more we are reaching the limits of what life on Earth can tolerate…we are facing ultimacy,” Fr. Surette writes.
A member of the Society of Jesus for 55 years, Fr. Surette has spent the last 22 years giving retreats and workshops on eco-spirituality. He sees the state of the Earth as one of the most important issues today:
“What is happening to Earth belongs to an order of magnitude beyond any other into which we Jesuits have poured out our apostolic energies in the past. It is of greater magnitude than any of the present day social justice issues.”
Fr. Surette believes that Jesuits are called to make a religious response to Earth’s fate. “This appears to be the most challenging role that we Jesuits have ever been asked to assume,” he writes. “It will require that we move beyond any denial and paralysis and that we move into the future with hope, courage and intention.
“In my dream this future begins with embedding our passionate love of humanity within an equally passionate love of Earth and its web of life. This love will lead us into working with others to bring about a mutually enhancing relationship between Earth and its human community,” Fr. Surette concludes.
For more of Fr. Surette’s planetary spirituality, read his homilies online.