As an academic of the Public Health field, much of my student career has centered around Caring for the Earth, and Earth caring for us. When I became part of the Maria College community, it was refreshing to see that caring for the Earth was a critical concern of the Sisters of Mercy not solely because it concerns the survival of the human species, but because caring for the Earth is an act of justice.
I have always been enamored by the Native American philosophy of doing nothing to the Earth that would affect the seventh generation out. Therefore, I was honored to become part of the Mission Animation team – specifically the Mercy and Justice Committee. Animating and raising awareness of the Critical Concerns on campus was and continues to be the perfect opportunity to fulfill a need I had to continue my work on evidence-based practice of Global Environmental Health.
I like to think that even if humans acted philanthropically, and took care of the Earth, the Sisters of Mercy would still have Care of the Earth as a Critical Concern. The more I learned about Mother Catherine McAuley I realized how very influential she was towards Environmental Health at the time. Her progressive thoughts on taking care of the ill who had become infected with cholera due to contaminated water brings to mind how very progressive she thought in terms of Environmental Health. She is now someone I consider a founding influence on modern Environmental Health Studies and Epidemiology along with John Snow. In the spirit of Catherine, we learn to care for the sick, and this week’s Earth celebration, we are inspired to also prevent illness by Caring for Earth, our collective home. Let us celebrate it!
Jillian Mertzlufft MPH
Committee Chair of the Mercy and Justice Committee