Environmental Justice

“To know Creation is to know the Creator.” –St. Columban

For more than 30 years, Columban missionaries have been at the forefront of protecting the environment from destructive practices and addressing the urgency of climate change. Our mission experience of living with the natural world and with communities that have been marginalized and exploited impels us to seek ways to restore right relationships with all of Creation.

We advocate for bold action to address Climate Change.

In particular, human-induced climate change is the most serious and pressing ecological challenge facing the world today. The reality of climate change compels us to both personal and structural changes.

Climate change, largely driven by our reliance on fossil fuels, has led to extreme weather events, rising sea levels, severe droughts, a loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and higher rates of migration which affect the poor and vulnerable in nations across the world.

Columban Missionaries around the globe stand in solidarity with communities impacted by climate change. In Burma and Peru, missionaries watch as glaciers, a main water and irrigation source, continue to disappear. In the Philippines and Fiji, extreme weather events and rising sea levels threaten coastal communities where agriculture and fishing are a main source of economic stability. Severe droughts cause food and water shortages in Pakistan and the U.S.

We advocate for sustainable development and agricultural systems.

Across the world, in countries that are rich in oil, gas and minerals, extractive industries have inflicted lasting damage to poor and indigenous communities and to Creation. Based on their experience in communities negatively affected by mining and other extractive projects, Columbans challenge this model of development based on the intensive exploitation of natural resources.

Large-scale agribusiness has also been detrimental to the land and people. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) threaten the integrity of creation and the life God made good, and they have extremely damaging effects on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and economies throughout the world.

We advocate for the right to water.

According to the Catholic Church, the right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of assessment that considers water merely as an economic good. Water, the basis for all human life, is a sacred source of life we must protect. Without adequate access to clean water, the health, nutrition, and sanitation of poor communities, and especially women and children, suffer. Without water, life is threatened.

Environmental Justice Resources:


Environmental Justice

  • Global Columban Missionaries Announce Pledge to Divest from Fossil Fuels

    Hong Kong, October 4, 2016. Inspired by Pope Francis and in honor of September’s Season of Creation and the Feast of St Francis, the Missionary Society of St. Columban pledges to take steps to divest from fossil fuels. In addition, we commit to putting resources into Positive Impact Investing alternatives. Pope Francis is leading the way for Catholic institutions to choose a Divest – Reinvest strategy when he writes in the encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, that...

  • On Journey with Pope Francis and St. Francis of Assisi

    As a native of New England, I have never lost my love of fall and its majestic beauty. Eagerly, I await the magic of leaves transitioning to red, yellow and orange colors, fall flowers blossoming and all God’s creatures preparing for winter. Back home, a neighbor’s yearly complaint that squirrels were taking his precious acorns now makes me laugh. He never did anything with those acorns other than sweeping them up and throwing them away to spite the squirrels. Looking back, he did...

  • Amy's Winding Way


    When I was a little girl my family lived in a rural town called Indian Trail, North Carolina. We had a vegetable garden about half the size of a football field. Nights and weekends were when my dad and I would go out to plant, prune, weed, water, and harvest. We had to walk from our house, through some woods on a dirt path my dad called, Amy’s Winding Way, to get to the garden. The journey was as magical as the destination. During those hours in the field, Dad taught me about intuiting the signs...

  • Sunny Days and Stormy Clouds at the Borderlands

    We Columbans at the U.S.-Mexico border find our monsoon rains a wonderful relief at this time of year. It’s great for us, because rain doesn’t fall very often here. In the midst of the great Northern Chihuahua Desert, both El Paso and Juarez—host cities to our mission center and our parish—usually experience over 300 sunny days a year, making the sun an especially attractive and affordable source of renewable energy for our communities. Our own Columban Mission Center had 22 panels installed four years ago on the roof of our two-story building in downtown...

  • The Church and Mining: What is Happening to our Common Home?

    We live in a world radiant with beauty and one that is also crying out for redemption. The entire Creation is filled with the beauty and colors of the Seasons of Creation, at the same time it is groaning under the impact of climate change: extreme weather events, devastating floods and severe droughts, rising sea levels and melting glaciers, disappearing habitats, and disappearing species of life. But this drama is not confined to the climate alone. In recent decades transnational mining companies...

  • Continue Raising Your Voice on Climate Change

    Intern LiveLaudatoSi

    Over the past few months, Columbans have witnessed many examples of the devastating effects of climate change. From Cyclone Winston in Fiji to record heat and wildfires in the American Southwest to continued drought in Pakistan, Columbans continue to work in places and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts. In response to these Columban experiences, we’ve asked you to take action...

  • Climate Change and Conflict: An Inconvenient Truth

    At a recent hearing “A Review of EPA’s Regulatory Activity During the Obama Administration: Energy and Industrial Sectors,” before the House of Representatives subcommittee on Energy and Power, Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, spoke on behalf of the EPA in front of the committee. She quickly became the face of an “inconvenient truth” for many congressmen who questioned the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency...

  • Don’t Let This Moment Pass: 1st Anniversary of Laudato Si’

    This week we celebrate the one year anniversary of Pope Francis’ widely celebrated encyclical on the environment. During his recent book tour to the United States, Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh emphasized the critical importance of this document. In an interview with National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Sean left us with an urgent message: don’t let this moment pass...