Presentation sisters Mary Bruggy, Betty McKerrow, Presentation associate Gene Trin, Anne Shay, and Patricia O’Brien, take a stand against CSG.
Presentation sisters Mary Bruggy, Betty McKerrow, Presentation associate Gene Trin, Anne Shay, and Patricia O’Brien, take a stand against CSG. Marc Stapelberg

Nuns against CSG

FIRST it was the Country Women's Association, now Catholic nuns are standing up against the Coal Seam Gas industry.

Four members of the Presentation Sisters of Lismore and around 12 of their associates were amongst the estimated 7000 people who took part in the Lock the Gate rally in Lismore on Saturday.

The sisters marched under a banner which read "Presentation People Say No to CSG."

While they're normally associated with pastoral work in schools and hospitals, Sister Anne Shay of Ballina said it's not unusual for the Sisters to take a stance on social justice and environmental issues.

"We're against anything which exploits the earth and the whole community of life," Sister Shay said.

When it comes to power generation, Sister Shay supports sustainable energy all the way.

"I very much believe we should be going down the road of solar and wind power. I do not think we should be putting more money into mining or extractive industries," Sister Shay said.

Rallies against CSG seem to be bringing together some unlikely groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Shock-jock Alan Jones stood alongside environmentalists during a blockade at Kerry near Beaudesert in January.

And last month the traditionally conservative Country Women's Association of NSW marched through Sydney in support of farmers against CSG.

Sister Mary Bruggy of Lismore said the Sisters weren't so much protesting as "standing up for a cause" that fits in with their mission.

"It connects very strongly in with our local Lismore Sister's focus but also our international Sister's focus on caring for the earth and caring for the poor," Sister Bruggy said.

A directive from The International Presentation Association states that part of their mission is to "confront personal and corporate greed" which leads to extremes in poverty and wealth and the earth's degradation.

The order was founded by Honora "Nano" Nagle, who in 2003 was named the "greatest Irish person of all time".

Last year the Presentation Sisters marked 125 years since their arrival in Lismore from Ireland in 1886.



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