For decades the Dominican Sisters of Springfield have understood, preached, taught and begun to adapt their lives in response to the ecological crisis facing Earth. Now they and hundreds of other congregations of Catholic Sisters around the globe are responding to the cry of Earth and the cry of the poor by joining Pope Francis in a seven-year journey toward sustainable living. Host Jeremiah Washington talks with Sister Marcelline Koch and Sister Elyse Ramirez, who are on the implementation team for the sisters’ response to the Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform, an initiative to change the way we think and act in relationship with one another and our fragile Earth.
A Message from Pope Francis
A Message from the Dominican Sisters
The heart of Laudato Si’ is the heart of the Gospel. It’s about mercy forgiveness, belonging abundance. It’s urgently needed and past time. –Sister Elyse
Image of a Yellow-rumped warbler.
Fun Fact: The Yellow-rumped Warbler is one of the first birds to start eating berries in the autumn. When foraging for fruits this bird is able to digest bayberries and way myrtle berries. The wax on these berries makes them hard to digest for most birds. These birds can winter farther north because of this ability.
Image of Bottle Gentian Illinois Flower
Facts about the Bottled Gentium Illinois:
The native Bottle Gentian is occasional in the northern half of Illinois and uncommon in the rest of the state. However, populations of the plant are probably declining as a result of the destruction of wetlands. Habitats include moist black soil prairies, openings in floodplain forests, thickets, fens, and swampy areas near bodies of water. These were found blooming at Jubilee Farm.
What does the platform ask of us? What is it going to require of us?
RESPONSE TO THE CRY OF THE EARTH
The Response to the Cry of the Earth is a call to protect our common home for the wellbeing of all, as we equitably address the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and ecological sustainability. Actions could include the adoption of renewable energies and energy sufficiency measures, achieving carbon neutrality, protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture, and guaranteeing access to clean water for all.
RESPONSE TO THE CRY OF THE POOR
The Response to the Cry of the Poor is a call to promote eco-justice, aware that we are called to defend human life from conception to death, and all forms of life on Earth. Actions could include projects to promote solidarity, with special attention given to vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, refugees, migrants, and children at risk, analysis and improvement of social systems, and social service programs.
Ecological Economics acknowledges that the economy is a sub-system of human society, which itself is embedded within the biosphere–our common home. Actions could include sustainable production and consumption, ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels and any activity harmful to the planet and the people, supporting circular economies, and prioritizing care labor and protecting the dignity of workers.
ADOPTION OF SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES
The Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles is grounded in the idea of sufficiency, and promoting sobriety in the use of resources and energy. Actions could include reducing waste and recycling, adopting sustainable dietary habits (opting for a more plant-based diet and reducing meat consumption), greater use of public transport, active mobility (walking, cycling), and avoiding single use items (e.g. plastic, etc.).
Ecological Education is about re-thinking and re-designing curricular and institutional reform in the spirit of integral ecology in order to foster ecological awareness and transformative action. Actions could include ensuring equitable access to education for all and promoting human rights, fostering Laudato Si’ themes within the community, encouraging ecological leadership (students, teachers), and ecological restoration activities.
Ecological Spirituality springs from a profound ecological conversion and helps us to “discover God in all things”, both in the beauty of creation and in the sighs of the sick and the groans of the afflicted, aware that the life of the spirit is not dissociated from worldly realities. Actions could include promoting creation-based liturgical celebrations, developing ecological catechesis, retreats and formation programs, etc.
COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND EMPOWERMENT
Community resilience and empowerment envisage a synodal journey of community engagement and participatory action at various levels. Actions could include promoting advocacy and developing people’s campaigns, encouraging rootedness and a sense of belonging in local communities and neighbourhood ecosystems.
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