For more than 45 years, Sister Marie O’Shea has been a woman of the Catholic faith.
Now she has a new belief – “climate change”.
The Port Pirie-based nun with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan has collected 200 names on a petition calling for stronger action on “climate change”.
Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and other people of faith are working with the Catholic Church’s Caritas Australia to raise the petition as the biggest such effort in Australia’s history.
While critics say “climate change” theory is plot to destabilise society, Sister Marie bases her belief on having lived in Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean.
The island nation is said to be at risk of being over-run by rising seas attributed to changing environment.
Scientific research suggests increasing carbon dioxide levels, from pollutants such as fossil fuels, are threatening the planet.
Sister Marie said she had many friends among the 110,000 people living in Kiribati where tides were eroding the shore and the sea was contaminating water in wells.
“Are we saying it doesn’t matter if these islands disappear?” she said.
“The highest part of the country would be no higher than the top of the window in the Parish Centre, in Gertrude Street.
“People say the islanders can move to higher land, but there is no higher land.
“The Pope wrote an encyclical letter on Care of Our Common Home and it was for everyone.
“It was about his belief that ‘climate change’ is a threat and action needs to be taken.”
Asked whether she thought God could save the planet, she replied: “I think God expects us to do our bit. He gave us free will and provided scientists with the minds to do their research.”
She said concerns had been raised about the world’s temperatures rising by up to five degrees.
“Can you imagine Port Pirie being five degrees hotter?” she said.
Sister Marie describes herself as a “volunteer” at the Fr John Neubauer SJ Parish Centre.
The centre was named after an Austrian-born man who was the first priest in the Port Pirie area in the 1870s.
The premises are the former St Mark’s Primary School that was run by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.
The foundation stone was blessed in 1940 by Port Augusta Bishop Thomas McCabe who met Sister Marie while she was at the Good Samaritan teachers’ college in Sydney in the 1970s.
Sister Marie said she felt a “real sense of connection” with the centre.