Care for Our Earth

Creation is God’s gift to us. Respect and care for creation is our gift back to God.

Michael Dowd

2012-2016 Peacemaking Initiative: We the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, will focus, both personally and communally, on study, reflection and action regarding the Franciscan call to peacemaking, care for the Earth and concern for the poor, in light of our Franciscan Values.

Sylvania Franciscan Corporate Stance – Adopted June 2004: As followers of St. Francis of Assisi whose deep love of God opened to him the intrinsic relationship among all people, creatures and creation, we, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio and our Associates endorse the Earth Charter.

Care for Creation and the Environment

The Sylvania Franciscan Village Statement of Principles

We, the members of the Sylvania Franciscan Village, believe that the creation of our vast and wonderful universe is God’s gift to us, and God’s first act of self-revelation. Respect and care for creation is our gift back to God.

In the 13th century, St. Francis praised God through creation. He saw the sun, moon, stars, water, air, all natural resources, all creatures and fellow humans as the reflection of God’s goodness. Consistent with St. Francis’ vision, we in the 21st century recognize that humans are interconnected with nature, not separate from it. We also acknowledge the capacity of each person and every society either to diminish creation or to conserve and sustain it.

Since their founding in 1916, the Sisters of St. Francis have consciously focused on peace and harmony. The Sisters have a long record of caretaking, concern, and reverence for humans and Mother Earth. Because of this, we live and work in places of beauty that speak to the hearts and minds of all.

The history and legacy of the women founders compel us to continue the commitment and awareness of our relationship with the Earth. The Sylvania Franciscan Village is a community of brothers and sisters interconnected with all of creation. We have a spiritual responsibility to integrate our values of community, stewardship, reverence and service into our planning, decisions, and actions to ensure the preservation of all creation for future generations. Care for creation thus is our spiritual responsibility and requires an ongoing journey of ecological literacy and reverence.

As a community committed to service in education, healthcare, human services and social justice we are compelled to uphold our common values. We will be continuously aware of how our activity impacts the entirety of creation. Just as St. Francis saw his life as a balance between acting in the 13th century world and fully embracing prayer and contemplation, we will acknowledge the challenges of 21st century human activity and productivity with responsibility to preserve God’s gift of creation for future generations. We acknowledge and believe:

  • We have the responsibility to take leadership in the care of God’s creation
  • We are called by our faith traditions to live simply and consciously in harmony with creation
  • Every small action by an individual makes a difference over time
  • Without reverence and respect, human activity can negatively impact the preservation of God’s creation for future generations
  • It is our duty as educators, caregivers, and people of faith to transmit and act upon these values and beliefs

The Sylvania Franciscan Village will thus reverence the diversity of creation. We will embrace and engage in our spiritual and moral responsibility to balance being in the world and being in kinship with all species.

Resources/Links

Catholic Climate Covenant: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/

Catholic Coalition on Climate Change: http://www.catholicsandclimatechange.org/

Earth as Our Home Resource: http://www.sinsinawa.org/peace_justice/earthasourhome.pdf

Franciscan Action Network: https://franciscanaction.org/issues/climate-justice

Global Catholic Climate Movement, http://catholicclimatemovement.global/

Interfaith Power and Light: http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/

New American Dream: http://www.newdream.org/

Science Alliance for Valuing the Environment (S.A.V.E.), Inc.: http://www.lourdes.edu/Home/CampusLife/Sustainability/SAVE.aspx

Sierra Club, http://www.sierraclub.org/

St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poorhttp://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/pledge

Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission: http://www.lucascountygreen.com/

“Going Beyond Green” – Sustainability Plan for Toledo & Lucas County, OH:

http://www.goingbeyondgreenplan.com/

United Nations – Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (Website):

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics

Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

US Catholic Conference of Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/ejp/climate/

350.org, http://350.org/

America Magazine:

Laudato Si’ A Map: http://americamagazine.org/issue/laudato-si-map

Archdiocese of Washington

Study Guide to Laudate Si’http://www.adw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Laudato-Si-Study-Guide.pdf

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Laudato Si’ Study and Action Guide for Individuals and Small Groupshttp://columban.org/18043/columban-center-for-advocacy-and-outreach/ccao-updates/laudato-si-study-and-action-guide/

The Interfranciscan Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, August 2015 Study Guide for Laudato Si’http://francis35.org/pdf/laudatesi/Laudato%20Si%20Study%20Guide.EN.pdf

National Catholic Reporter

Rev. Thomas Reese, A Readers’ Guide to Laudato Si’. National Catholic Reporter, http://ncrnews.org/documents/NCR%20Readers%20guide.pdf

US Catholic Conference of Bishops

Laudato Si’ Discussion guide, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/laudato-si-discussion-guide.pdf

Vatican video on the Encyclical, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXA5_juFgDg

Sisters' Stories

Sister Brenda Hawley

Sister Brenda Hawley

Sister Brenda is convinced of the connection between green space and mental health. She’s become a champion of mini-gardens, maintaining two very small gardens. At her apartment, you’ll find green pepper and broccoli growing among the roses, lilies and mums. Her second mini garden, where she works in The Sophia Counseling Center at the Canticle Center, offers peace and solace to the clients who visit.
Sister Rosine Sobczak

Sister Rosine Sobczak

My love for Earth began early on with my grandparents and parents who loved to get us outside every time they could. Walks in the woods with my maternal grandfather were a special treat and I learned a lot from him. Those early days probably laid the foundation for a call which I heard in a dream during my Silver Jubilee retreat in 1990 after reflecting on a Scripture quote from Luke 12:49 – “I have come to light a fire on the earth. How I wish the blaze were enkindled already.” The stirred something deep inside of me and I interpreted this as a call to start a vortex of energy to work to protect our planet, and I began a nature program for children and founded an environmental organization called the Science Alliance for Valuing the Environment (S.A.V.E.) Inc. I did what an educator does – teach about it as my parents and grandparents taught me. That’s exactly what I have been doing for the past 25 years and plan to continue doing for as long as the call remains alive in me!

Care for Creation

Sylvania Franciscans care for creation by:

  • Washing clothes in cold water
  • Using white vinegar in lieu of fabric softener
  • Using environmentally friendly/home-made cleaning products
  • Shopping less, focusing on our needs, not our wants
  • Renewing our efforts to reduce, re-use, and recycle
  • Making conscious effort to conserve water
  • Not running water at length (brushing teeth or washing dishes)
  • Supporting efforts of area legislators to clean up Lake Erie
  • Conserving energy by unplugging small appliances to curb phantom loads
  • Turning off lights when the room is not being used

 Sylvania Franciscans are conscious of their food choices by:

  • Supporting local growers and grocers
  • Buying fruit and vegetables at local farmers market
  • Buying organic food, when possible
  • Eating less meat, especially beef
  • Eating a meatless meal one day a week
  • Eating more fruit, vegetables, grains, and raw foods
  • Eating at locally-owned restaurants
  • Contributing to Food Pantry collections

Sylvania Franciscans help conserve water by:

  • Celebrating World Water Day (prayer and education for action)
  • Washing full loads when washing clothes, using cold water if possible
  • Keeping a container of drinking water in the fridge
  • Taking short showers or baths
  • Shutting water off when brushing teeth, cleaning vegetables
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