Global Sisters Report is focusing a special series on mining and extractive industries and the women religious who work to limit damage and impact on people and the environment, through advocacy, action and policy. Pope Francis called for the entire mining sector to undergo "a radical paradigm change." Sisters are on the front lines to help effect that change.
GSR Today - In a scenario that plays out across the globe, Sr. Kathleen Melia was attacked outside her convent — violence some suspect was related to Columban sister's work with the Subaanen people in their battle against large-scale mining.
When Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Kathleen O'Hagan and St. Joseph Sr. Gretchen Shaffer arrived in Mingo County in 1976, nearly everyone was economically poor. Though four decades have passed since the pastoral letter by the Appalachian bishops, the region's underlying problem has not changed. Standards of living are higher, regulations have made coal mining cleaner, and unions have turned coal mining into safer, well-paying jobs, but the people still have little voice.
Mount Tabor Benedictine Sr. Mary Going is an attorney at the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky in Prestonsburg. These days, she is handling loads of disability cases, which are indicative of an ongoing crisis in eastern Kentucky.
After arriving in West Virginia in 1976, St. Joseph Sr. Gretchen Shaffer co-founded a school for a town that didn't have one. Though retired now, she is still a constant presence in the area, continuing to minister to the powerless.