UPDATE: This article, originally published at 6:39 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, 2015, has been updated throughout with details and comment about the work of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's no accident, perhaps, that a pope who took his name from St. Francis of Assisi and an order of nuns that did the same, would both become environmental activists: Francis, the 12th Century Italian who gave up his father's riches to become a friar, is the patron saint of ecology.
It's a cause that his namesake, the 21st century pope formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, embraced in his first encyclical, whose English translation was published on Thursday.
She has worked with companies including Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Anadarko (APC), and focused on practices such as hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to remove oil from shale deposits such as the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania.
In the process, she has met with dozens of residents who reported health problems and pollution of their neighborhood water supply after companies bought up mineral rights that allowed them to begin fracking.
"There are many dangers, whether it's in the production or the distribution," she said. In one community, a resident who began suffering health problems after shale production started was later told she had chemicals normally found in gas in her blood. A neighbor across the street was dying of cancer, Nash said, and the initial indication of problems came from a family pet.
"The dog was the first to know," she said. "He wouldn't drink the water because he could taste something in the water."
Nash, who grew up in Limerick, Ireland, said her biggest fight with all the fracking companies is human rights.
"The human rights of our communities have been totally fractured, and the communities have been disenfranchised," she said. "I have addressed it with our politicians, and the major, major reason for fracking that is the only excuse where you get pushback is that it's jobs."
Still, she says, the jobs have not materialized to the degree envisioned and in many parts of Pennsylvania, they have gone not to area residents but outsiders.
While the town of Williamsport, Pa., has seen massive growth since the days when she visited it as a school principal for a sports event, she wonders how long it will continue.
"It has boomed," she said. "Will it last? I don't know."