Sister Dorothy Stang’s Story, continued

Sister Dorothy’s story continues to spread.  A recent article named “The Amazing Grace of Sr. Dorothy Stang,”* tells us that she “chose to live in extreme poverty in order to help others living in poverty.”   

“The Student, the Nun, and the Amazon,” part 2 of a 4-part documentary: UK student Sam Clements rides with Sister Dorothy Stang to witness the land and people she served. stringfilms

Those who knew Sister Dorothy said that she had a passion for people of all cultures, for social justice, peacemaking, fairness, and respect for the environment.  She possessed few material things: a mix-match of colorful clothing, spartan furnishings and her Bible, which she carried everywhere and sometimes called it her ‘weapon.’

Sr. Dot was carrying that Bible the day she was walking alone in the rain  through the jungle, when her killers emerged to block her way.  She took it out and started reading the Beatitudes to them and was gunned down by six bullets fired at point-blank range. 

Sr. Dot first arrived in Brazil in 1966 with five other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur whose historical charism and primary commitment was to work with the poor. 

“The Student, the Nun, and the Amazon,” part 3: Sam Clements witnesses Sister Dorothy’s work with the peasants. stringfilms

The oppression of the farmers stood out to them.  When the government allowed landless people to become farming homesteads and move to the state of Para, Sr. Dot “packed up and joined the farmers.”  

When many police and politicians were paid off by the loan sharks to scare away the homesteaders, “the families moved even deeper into the forest, and Sr. Dot moved with them.” However, it was becoming clear that the government wanted to develop 10.5 million acres in states like Para for mining, refining and agribusiness. 

On her murder, the world press spread the story and President Lula proclaimed that the 22,000 acres of land would be reserved for sustainable development which was a cause Sr. Dot championed. 

“The Student, the Nun, and the Amazon,” part 4: Sam Clements covers Sister Dorothy’s martyrdom and its impact. stringfilms

Sr. Barbara English, a companion working with Sr. Dot, summarizes the situation this way: “They were David facing Goliath, and Goliath came in the form of multinationals, big business, ranching and lumber companies….[who] began to devour the Amazon forest.”     

At the time she was killed, Sister Dot was resisting illegal logging and the land sharks profiting on it.  It appears the murder was financed by a local rancher and local loggers who paid the killers $19,300.

* Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, “The Amazing Grace of Sister Dorothy Stang.”

See Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

And Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest.

And Matthew Fox: Essential Writings in Creation Spirituality.

Banner Image: Batik tapestry honoring Sister Dorothy Stang, created by her brother Thomas Stang and gifted to Matthew Fox. Published with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

What lessons do you take from Sister Dot’s story?  What lessons do you feel our culture ought to take?

Recommended Reading

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.

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4 thoughts on “Sister Dorothy Stang’s Story, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Sister Dot lived for the people and died for the people. All, including the murderers and oppressors, will die. Only a few, including Sister Dot, have found ‘true life’ beyond death. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    I felt so sad watching this documentary about Sister Dorothy, the ongoing destruction of our rainforest, and for the peasants and Indigenous peoples living there…

    There have been many martyrs in human history, to the present day, who have fought courageously for Justice, Peace, Healing, and Transformation in our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and Her living creatures, which we are all an interconnected and interdependent part of in God’s Co-Creation. May God’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Healing~Transformation~Freedom~Strength~Creativity~
    Compassion~DIverse ONENESS… continue Being and growing within our hearts~lives~Souls with one another, (and with all spiritual beings in our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS), in our human evolution and unique personal spiritual journeys on our present incarnations with Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth….

  3. Avatar

    Yes, Sam’s documentary is very moving. Especially when Sister Dorothy said with her arms out, yes we can regrow the forest! She’s full of youthful joy, which I think is evidence of the spirit and grace with her. She protects her home now still, I am sure. Thank you for this meditation. I think about it all the time, what do I want, what do I need…we really don’t pay attention at all to what we WANT…because the only thing that I feel people truly WANT is unconditional love and their sovereign sense of creative power…this is what we want, this is what we need. If we can see that and live according to that truth, then what Sister said becomes an immediate reality.

  4. Avatar

    What we love, we are willing to protect and preserve. This is the question that humanity continues to wrestle and struggle with.

    Some identify what they love, with power, wealth, status and material possessions; focused on immediate self gratification, which is fleeting. Some identify what they love, with the creation of the all and the everything, which is a precious gift to be respected, honored, protected and preserved for future generations.

    Paradise, some name as the Garden of Eden, is right here, right now… not out there in some heavenly realm. The Indigenous peoples understood this in their own way; and they too, like Dorothy and many others, have been resilient and courageous in respecting, honoring, protecting and preserving the creation of the all and the everything, considering the inherentance of this precious gift, up to the next 7 generations.

    Colonization and the effects of this has not extinguished this spark of love, and I pray that this spark will continue to kindle into a flame in the hearts, minds, souls and spirits of humanity… that we may consciously turn our love around!

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