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January 5, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – For years the Adrian Dominican Congregation has worked to make the Motherhouse campus more environmentally sustainable and to encourage Sisters and Associates to live in a way that treads lightly on Earth’s resources. 

But now the Congregation has the opportunity to participate in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform and work collaboratively with Catholic organizations around the world – from schools and universities to parishes and communities of women and men religious. 

The Action Platform is named for Laudato Si’: Care for our Common Home, the 2015 encyclical, or letter, written by Pope Francis to describe the environmental crisis that Earth faces and to explore ways to address the crisis.

Sister Corinne Sanders
Sister Corinne Sanders, OP

“The Action Platform is a space for institutions, communities, and families to learn and grow together,” explained Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Sustainability, during a live stream presentation. “What is most apparent right now is the critical urgency of this time, calling for a worldwide response. It is a call to be part of a community that will bring their skills and talents to this commitment to our common home.”

Noting that the Congregation has been involved in sustainability efforts for years, Sister Corinne explained that becoming part of the Action Platform would involve collaboration and accountability with other Catholic organizations. “The extra that is asked of us will be a public commitment, networking with others, and an assessment of what we have done.”

Sister Kathleen Nolan
Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP

Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, co-presenting with Sister Corinne, introduced the seven goals of this seven-year process, designed to be a worldwide response to the environmental crisis. “Solutions must be comprehensive and bring together different fields of knowledge, all in the service of a more integrated and integral vision,” Sister Kathleen said. She is Director of the Congregation’s Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation.

The Action Platform goals are:

  • Response to the Cry of the Earth, a call to protect our common home for the benefit of all creatures on Earth. “To listen to the cry of the Earth and to respond is something that we’ve been about, but we’re being called to go much deeper, to invest our very selves and even to listen more intently to that cry,” Sister Corinne said.

  • Adoption of a simple lifestyle: Sister Corinne said this goal calls on all individuals to “live a 1.5-degree life … the lifestyle we would adopt if we were really to live in such a way as to limit global warming to [an increase in Earth’s temperature of] no more than 1.5 degrees.” Currently, she said, many people in the United States live in a way that contributes up to 15 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to the environment. The 1.5-degree lifestyle would be limited to 1 or 2 tons each year.

  • Ecological education, which involves redesigning curricula to foster ecological awareness and transformative action. “We have to put a lot of energy into educating our political representatives,” Sister Corinne said. She added that the Adrian Dominican Sisters have already sponsored an Environmental Leadership Experience, a two-week program in which students from Siena Heights University in Adrian and Barry University in Miami, Florida, come to the Motherhouse to learn first-hand about sustainability efforts.

  • Response to the Cry of the Poor: Sister Kathleen noted that the cries of Earth and the cries of the poor are interrelated – as are all issues. “It’s about looking into each other’s eyes and promoting human life and all forms of life,” she said. “Our actions that contribute to climate change also contribute to the challenges of our neighbors, especially in poor countries.”

  • Ecological Economics: “The economy is a subset of human society, which itself is embedded within the biosphere of our common home,” Sister Kathleen said. She suggested ways to lower our carbon footprint and, at the same time, show concern for workers. These can include buying clothing and food only from fair-trade organizations and becoming involved in organizations such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which advocates for sustainable farming practices and fair wages for agricultural workers.

  • Ecological Spirituality: This involves “recovering the religious vision of God’s creation [and] encouraging greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy, and gratitude,” Sister Kathleen said. She suggested opening our consciousness to new images of God in our relationship with the non-human world and finding ways to celebrate that reflect our new understandings of the universe.

Sister Corinne concluded the presentation by noting that becoming an Action Platform Congregation could be a decision of the 2022 General Chapter, scheduled for late June 2022. “Do we wish to join the public commitment of the global Church?” she asked. “It’s an institutional and personal commitment to a new relationship that will transform us as we enter into collaboration with other congregations, parishes, and societies of Catholic families.”

Watch the video of the entire presentation below.

 

Feature photo: This solar field, built in the north field behind the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse, will help to generate a significant percentage of the campus’ power.


 

 

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