This year I went again in July to the Retreat in Ballyferriter to refresh my love for Infant Jesus Spirituality and the beauty of the area.
My cousin Sr Mary Mac is an Infant Jesus sister, now living in the Mallow community. When she lived in England I took the opportunity to visit her many times in Burton where her ministry was art therapy amongst many other things. Mary talked about Teillhard de Chardin and Brian Swimme and I shared my experiences as an analytical chemist. So, I was delighted to be invited again this year to Ballyferriter, my fourth such opportunity.
Photo: Mairéad O'Sullivan, Mary de Courcy MacDonnell, Noreen Vaughan, Carmel MacMahon, Beatrice Ahern and Catherine Lynch visiting St Gobnait's Well, near Dunquin - a photo taken in a previous year.
As a professional research scientist, it always delights me to know that, for many years, deepening our cosmic consciousness and caring for the Earth is part of our IJ incarnational spirituality.
Most of my time is spent studying the structure of new materials in the chemistry department of Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. New materials and compounds are made by research chemists and engineers. In applying for funding, they need to show that their research will be for the common good. The technique I specialise in is called X-ray diffraction. It’s a powerful tool which uses computing and x-rays to see exactly what these new materials are made of. We can see the atoms and identify which elements they are and how they are connected to each other. This is crucial to understanding not only the true identity of the material but also how it will interact with its surroundings. Will it be able to absorb carbon dioxide? Will it enable a reaction to proceed that could lead to a vital new medicine or material? What will be its effect on the environment?
The wonder of seeing the structure appear in 3D from the measurements and mathematical data never ceases.
Most of my work is carried out on a computer indoors, communicating the results with our researchers and the world beyond. I have always loved and been fascinated by the outdoors; the ocean, mountains, forests, storms and the wonder of being outside. They are also composed of the same atoms I see with X-rays in my laboratory, joined together to form our wonderful creation that God has gifted us with.
Being once again on Retreat in Ballyferriter gave me and the sisters and friends who participated, an opportunity to praise and thank the Creator of all this beauty and resolve to do our best to protect it through our work and life style.
Written by Dr Georgina Rosair Scientific Officer in X-ray diffraction G.M.Rosair@hw.ac.uk