Update from the Oaxaca Ecology Project - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Home » Returned Missioners » Update from the Oaxaca Ecology Project

In years past we always got a team of bulls to plow our field. Now there are fewer teams available for plowing, so we had to settle for a tractor.

By Pat Denevan

With both of us in our 80s, Mary and I have decided to cut back on our activities here at our Oaxaca Ecology Project and to slow down a bit. However, we will continue to live on our ecological ranch in the hills north of the city of Oaxaca and continue to help persons and families who need some assistance in their lives. Thus, we still will “take care of the land” and “take care of the people.”

We may need to slow down a bit, but we are determined to increase our efforts to bring attention to the climate emergency which our planet is facing. I am writing this on Friday, September 20, the day of a worldwide strike for the climate. It started with young people, but now it is a movement of millions of people demanding that world leaders do something about the climate crisis threatening our very existence.

One of our projects in Oaxaca is sustainable agriculture. We planted a milpa (corn field) this year, and are hoping for a good harvest of natural, organic corn.

One of the climate changes we are experiencing in Oaxaca is lack of rain. We used to get regular days of rain to help the corn grow through its important phases of growth, but now we get less rain and it is unpredictable. Instead of being soft, soaking rain, it often comes as heavy, intense downpours.

Our corn field this year was beginning to dry up in early September due to lack of rain. Then, lucky for us, we got some nice showers from a tropical storm, Lorena, which came from the Gulf and whose edge passed over Oaxaca and brought us some much-needed rain. Now we see some elotes (ears of corn) appearing, and it looks like we will have a harvest of good organic corn this year.

Indigenous people of the world relate to nature much better than many of us. We can learn from them how to conserve the beauty of our planet. Now climate scientists are telling us in frightening terms what is happening to our world and what we should be doing to prevent or at least mitigate a catastrophic future for our children and grandchildren. The future of the planet is in our hands.

Sometimes people ask “What can one person do about this crisis?” Greta Thunberg is a good example. Her solitary school strike for the climate is now a worldwide event.

Do what you can in your own way where you live while we still have time!

Blessings to you from Mary Gill and Pat Denevan–Oaxaca Ecology Project

Pat and Mary Gill Denevan (Class of 2001) served as Maryknoll lay missioners in Mexico from 2002 until 2011. 

Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Compelled by faith to engage with people across cultures and ethnicities, Maryknoll lay missioners live, love and work with communities on the margins to promote active nonviolence and healing.