Jacqui graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Education and Science (1997), and is currently undertaking a PhD in Education to research ‘Transformative Learning: Dialogue and Integral Ecology’.
Jacqui has worked as an Environmental Educator at Universities, TAFE colleges and Secondary Schools across Australia. Over a period of ten years as Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Jacqui developed partnerships and ecological conversion initiatives to enable the Catholic Church in Australia to better care for God’s Creation through advocacy, education, research and collaboration.
Jacqui is Co-Founder and former Convener of the National Council of Churches Australia Eco Mission Project (2012-2017), former Co-Convenor of the NSW Eco MIssion Project (2013-2017) and for over more than two decades has been involved in global, national and local interfaith initiatives relating to caring for Creation.
Currently, Jacqui is working with the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development as Assistant Coordinator of the Ecology Taskforce and Australian Catholic University designing an online program ‘Preparing the Future: Living an Integral Ecology’.
As Co-Founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) Jacqui is involved on its Steering Group, numerous working groups, the Oceania Chapter and is Co-Chair of LISTEN the Laudato si’ International Scholars Tertiary Education Network.
Who or what inspires you to act for the environment?
Who/what inspires me to act – I’m on Cammeraygal country here with beautiful waterways North of Sydney harbour and so I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge that I’m speaking to you from the land of the Cammeraygal people and I acknowledge the people and the elders of the land, the sea and their ancestors – past, present and future.
There are three relational dimensions I’ll explore in my response: Physical, Education & Spiritual.
One of the dimensions that inspires me every day is the beauty of creation, the ecosystems which are within each of us and that we are dependent on not only for food, water and survival but the health of ecosystems that enables us to heal and flourish. The way country speaks and has its own agency, the stories that everything in creation communicate – the clouds, the long-time story of rocks for example, and the reinvigorating way that saltwater country makes me feel when I have sand between my toes and salty air in my lungs – where I feel at home.
I would also say that a significant inspiration was learning and teaching Earth and Environmental Science – having travelled around Australia as a young person and then coming to understand the scientific story – it was like a lightening strike to my mind as well as my emotional and spiritual self. Integrating knowledge, a sense of place and purpose.
An ongoing source of inspiration is my faith in a creator of this vast and awe inspiring universe – sustaining and beckoning in each moment ways of feeling, seeing, being and thinking.
The Christian tradition that I inherited is full of wisdom – for ten years after leaving school I did not feel I could access the wisdom of the church – as a young woman it was alienating but I returned when a friend, a practicing Catholic invited me and we reflected together after mass. I explained that I felt spiritually at home but that I had issues with the patriarchy, language and my friend said, ‘if you’re not in it – you can’t change it.’ I was so struck by this insight. I reflected deeply and I discerned that I did not want to continue feeling bitter and critical on the outside for the rest of my life. I wanted to find another way.
I enjoy learning the value of ‘old teaching’ in Sacred Scripture ‘in new circumstances’, the evolving work of Catholic Social Teaching, being in conversation with ecological theologians and feeling inspired by saints, such as Dr Hildegard of Bingen, St Theresa of Avila, St Catherine of Sienna, St Clare of Assisi, St Elizabeth of Portugal and St MM and her vocation to educate people is an ongoing stronghold when I feel overwhelmed.
Lastly, it’s the people I have met and their stories of life, their stories of woundedness and their dreams that are also a huge source of inspiration. First nations people, artists, everyone yearning for connected communities of life. I feel inspired by the systemic change and transformation that can take place through faith and action. Essentially, because I value creation I made a deep commitment to devote my life to addressing the big issues of climate change and biodiversity loss through education, enabling ecological conversion and systemically engaging with an integral ecology paradigm which creates new structures for the common good, forming communities of practice and dignified work for the future.
You are working on an international Laudate Si project, could you tell us about that?
At the end of April when I paused my doctoral research, I was offered a role to support the Ecology Taskforce of the Vatican COVID Commission. The Ecology Taskforce is responding to the multiple crises we face, the pandemic, the economic fallout, the climate crisis and biodiversity because the origin of the pandemic has likely emerged from the way we are encroaching on natural ecosystems.
In the first phase of work our Ecology Taskforce made up of many partners including scientists, theologians, UISG, Parliament of World Religions and together we generated 80+ papers inspired by Laudato Si’ and following the dialogical methodology of see-discern-act including proposals for action. My task was to synthesise the papers received each week into an executive summary. We were asked to write on key themes, such as politics, health, finance, women. In phase two I was asked to shortlist proposals and projects for action that merge nonviolence and ecological conversion, rebalancing social systems of politics, commerce, markets, education and health with the natural cycles and rhythms of nature and a culture of compassion and care. One of the shortlisted proposals put forward is on women, the call for action is on the theme of dignity and equality for women including in the church where we know that never before have there been so many qualified women for ministry. We are proposing that women be invited to work alongside men in positions of ministry not subordinate to the men but as equals. It’s a collaborative project with the other taskforces of the Vatican COVID Commission.
What actions would you recommend that we take regarding “Acting now: Laudato si’, eco-theologies and advocacy”?
Enrol in the free online GCCM ‘LS Animator’ Program which at its conclusion invites ‘Laudato Si’ Circles’ to emerge with free monthly resources; join the GCCM Oceania Chapter working towards an Oceania Synod; Scroll down to a wide range of initiatives of the Global Catholic Climate Movement https://catholicclimatemovement.global/
Contemplation and Action – Richard Rohr daily meditations https://cac.org/
Conversation and Dialogue – share your love and concern for creation and action – listen to stories. Remember that every action can be seen as a gesture of love!
Learn more about Laudato Si’ by reading Laudato Si’ again, one paragraph each morning as a meditation. http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
Study the soon to be launched online ACU program ‘Prepare the Future – Living Laudato Si’ coming in 2021;
See the Laudato Si’ Interdicastery document for inspiration to implement LS:
Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year – Seven Year plans – read the document below and consider enlisting as a family/community/congregation/school/parish/diocese LS Seven Year Action Plan initiative launching May 2021 https://laudatosiyear.org
Join the mailing list of religious orders ‘Sowing Hope for the Future’ and attend webinar events https://www.laudatosi.org/dialogue/sowing-hope-for-the-planet
Multifaith resources: Faith for Nature – https://faithfornature.org/live-stream
Faith for Earth book available online