Cecilia Ranger ’55, Ph.D., religious studies faculty, was honored in March 2016 by the Sierra Club and CELP for her contributions to protect the Columbia River watershed.

The Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Upper Columbia River Group of Sierra Club gathered in Spokane to honor “watershed heroes” and to raise funds for watershed stewardship.

Sister Cecilia and 17 others, the steering committee for the Columbia River Pastoral Letter, were honored for their work on The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good – An International Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the Watershed Region, published in 2001.

The Columbia River Pastoral Letter committee was comprised of individuals representing the watershed’s industry, agriculture, fishing, education and native peoples. Their mission was to find a creative, spiritually-driven solution to the Columbia River watershed issues.

“We wanted to seek the opinions and perspectives from the diverse populations in the area,” said Sister Cecilia, who like many in the Holy Names community, has devoted much of her life to protecting the environment.  “We had hoped to identify some of the regional conflicts and barriers that prevented the water and land from being used in an ethical way.

“Unfortunately the area’s economic and ecological conditions have suffered greatly,” Sister Cecilia continued. “Though not necessarily due to a lack of appreciation for the earth, rather by financial need or lack of knowledge on how best to care for the land and water.”

Water is a human right

One of the motivating factors for Sister Cecilia is the notion that water is a human right. “People can’t survive without water,” she said. “Neither can plants or animals. It becomes the social responsibility of all of us to share the common good of the land and seek ways to work together in solving the watershed’s problems.”

In addition to Sister Cecilia, other members of the steering committee were Bishop William Skylstad, Joseph Burns, Robert J. Castagna, Jesuit Father Scott Coble, J.L. Drouhard, Dr. Frank Fromherz, Donna Hanson, Dr. John Hart, Dr. Loretta Jancoski, Steve Kolmes, Rev. Pat Monette, Dominican Sister Sharon Park, Rev. Ron Patnode, Dr. Mark Petruncio, John Reid, Yvonne Smith and Wes Towle.

» Read the full Columbia River Pastoral Letter on TheWSCC.org 

Cecilia Ranger, Ph.D. is a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names, religious studies faculty at Marylhurst University, and Marylhurst Board of Trustees.