Saturday, October 10, 2009
An Award For Protesting Trappist Nuns
Trappist Nuns are a cloistered community living a life of pray and work according to Benedictine Rule. It is not easy to imagine them doing anything that would merit an award given unanimously by the subcommittee on Environment of the Bishops' Justice and Peace Committee, but that is just what happened.
On Oct, 7th the head of the Committee, Bishop of Incheon, presented them with the award. The committee in giving the award said that the sisters in opposition to environmental destruction were following the lead of the Church and the teaching of their religious community. They were not only able to read the signs of the times but gave a prophetic voice to the concerns of the Church and were an example to the citizens and the Catholics.
The city originally planned to build apartments for the residents who live around the reclaimed site in the Sujeong-ri section of Masan, a city in the south bottom tip of the peninsula. The City changed the plans being strapped by finances to allow a ship building company to build a shipyard on the land.
The superior of the Cistercian Order of the Strict of Observance had to receive permission from the Trappist Central Administration to be part of the opposition and depart from their rule of cloister for the time necessary to be in solidarity with the villagers. It is very possible that without the help of the sisters the city and the shipyard company would have had an easy time of getting their way.
In receiving the award the superior of the sisters said in the two years of opposition to the city of Masan and the ship building company she saw greed and tyranny of the administration, and the shamelessness of the shipbuilding company: it's always the poor and the weak that have to suffer. She mentioned win or lose they will continue to fight with the villagers to the end.
On another occasion she said, "Our charism is prayer, of course, but living the spirit of the Gospel, which is love for neighbor, is our priority." She explained her nuns are concerned about the plight of the local community and the area's natural environment.
This must be the first time a cloistered community has even received an award from a Justice and Peace Committee for efforts in ecological environmental involvement.