By Connie Berry
Sun editor

Media reports now say up to 2.5 million gallons of oil a day are still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico since the British Petroleum oil rig disaster on April 20.

A chocolate colored goo is washing up on the shores of Florida’s panhandle beaches. Families who have relied on the fishing and tourist industries for generations are facing economic disaster because of the spill. The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and All Saints Parish in Syracuse’s university neighborhood hosted a prayer service to address the impact of the spill. The June 21 event featured music and prayer asking God to turn the anger, anxiety and blame people are feeling into an “ecological conversion of heart.”

It may be too soon to measure all the effects of the oil spill in Central New York. The economic toll may not reach the seafood restaurants of the Syracuse Diocese — but New York state’s pension fund is planning to sue BP to recover stock losses.

Sister Caryn Crook, OSF, a Franciscan sister who specializes in ecology, and Meg Ksander, parish life coordinator at All Saints, coordinated the prayer service which came about from their connection in the LIMEX learning community. “We had the idea that it would be powerful to bring people together in prayer,” Ksander said. “The news coverage just gets worse and worse.”

The prayers spoken by Sister Caryn included acknowledging that, “British Petroleum would not be in the Gulf if it wasn’t for our excessive need of oil.”

The oil spill highlights the interconnectedness and interdependence of all God’s creation, she said. Water, air and soil quality will all suffer from the impact of the spill, not to mention the impact on wildlife.

The intent of the prayer service was to remind those gathered that they can make a difference in the national and global issue of oil usage. One of the handouts at the service listed 20 ways to “reduce our national and personal addiction to oil.” (See the box at right.)

Sister Caryn planned to share the information for the prayer service with other members of her congregation serving in different locations across the globe, including the sisters in Hawaii.

Ironically, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sister Chris Pologa, was visiting the diocese from Baton Rouge, La. where she is teaching at St. Joseph Academy. Sister Chris worked in the Syracuse Diocese for many years before moving to Louisiana. She sees the anger and frustration of the Gulf families firsthand.

“They are angry at BP’s inability to cap the leak and over the devastation of generations of work,” Sister Chris said. “Whole families have lost their livelihood. They don’t know how to do anything else. These are good hard-working people. They don’t want a handout. They want to work.”

20 Ways to Reduce Your Oil Consumption
1. Switch to a push mower that is powered by none other than you.
2. Plant gardens to reduce the amount of lawn that needs cutting.
3. Park the car; walk, bike and take public transit whenever possible.
4. Avoid buying plastic toys and goods when an alternative is available.
5. Don’t use plastic bags; stick to cloth reusable bags that can be washed frequently.
6. Putting on a new roof? Avoid tar in favor of a tile product (metal or clay).
7. Switch to soy-based printing inks.
8. Avoid life vests, umbrellas, luggage and other products made from nylon, a petroleum-based material. Instead look for alternatives made from recycled plastics (better to reuse what we already processed).
9. Ditch nylon and polyester clothing; wear natural fibers instead.
10. Wax floors with beeswax instead of petroleum-based commercial wax.
11. Beware of perfumes made with petrochemicals; look for all-natural scents made with essential oils.
12. Next time you have a headache, try a couple of big glasses of water before popping an aspirin, (yes, it too is made with oil products); most headaches are caused by dehydration.
13. Craft with natural fibers such as cotton, wool or alpaca rather than polyester yarn.
14. Purchase all-natural lip tints or lipstick; typical lipstick and lip gloss are made with oil products.
15. Remodeling the bathroom? Install a glass door in your shower and you won’t need a plastic shower curtain.
16. Buy beeswax crayons; those Crayolas (and other brands) are made from oil.
17. Wear eyeglasses; soft contact lenses are made with petroleum products. (Plastic eyeglass frames are made with oil but you’ll wear them a lot longer than most contacts, and you can donate them to charity when you upgrade.)
18. Stick with a wood deck. Plastic wood (like all plastics) is made from oil.
19. Embrace your natural hair color, or choose an all-natural hair color alternative such as henna.
20. Make “boo-boos” better with natural plant antiseptics such as St. John’s Wort, lavender tea, tree oil or eucalyptus; many commercial brands contain oil products.

(from Care2Health & Green Living,

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