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September 14, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – As people of faith throughout the world celebrate the Season of Creation – September 1 through October 4, 2021 – Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates listened to a Sustainability Update that focused on various projects on the Motherhouse Campus and on the call for the Congregation and individuals to become involved in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Offering presentations during the September 7, 2021, Sustainability Update are, clockwise from top left, Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Joel Henricks, and Jared Aslakson.

Offering the September 7, 2021, presentation were Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Office of Sustainability; Joel Henricks, Director of Facilities and Grounds; Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist; and Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.

Jared spoke of projects undertaken during this summer at the Permaculture site: from the loan of 20 goats for five days to stop the spread of invasive plants to the success of one of two hives of bees, which produced 12 pints of honey. Jared went on to speak of the success of the perennial trees, which are bearing fruit, and of the pollinator garden.

Jared noted that his intentional care of the fruit trees this season has been successful. “A lot of the perennial trees are yielding fruit, and we should expect the yield to steadily increase,” he said.

Joel offered an update on sustainability projects such as restoration of the storm water retention pond. “All the storm water is collected around the Siena Heights football field,” he explained, adding that the project is designed to control erosion and to bring clean water into the pond. In addition, wildlife that scattered when the project began is returning.

Work on the water main temporarily blocked access to Siena Heights Drive in front of the Motherhouse.

Work is starting in the Regina building parking lot in preparation for installation of a new carport, which will both support solar panels and include six charging stations for electric vehicles. Other work includes the installation of a new water main, which will be operational at the beginning of 2022, and removal of dead or dying trees throughout the campus. Also in the works is a solar array in a field at the north end of the Motherhouse Campus.

Much of the presentation focused on the Congregation’s involvement in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform. “The pope invited the Catholic community worldwide to join in a movement that we came to know as Laudato Si’ Action Platform, working at total sustainability,” Sister Kathleen explained. 

Laudato Si’ is the 2015 encyclical by Pope Francis, in which he calls for action from the worldwide community to save and restore Earth, our common home. “The encyclical is really calling us to care for our planet and to look at how we can incorporate and engage in the vision of ecology that was outlined in Laudato Si’,” Sister Kathleen said. “Pope Francis issued an urgent challenge to the entire world to protect our common home, cultivating a deep relationship with all creatures.” 

Sisters Kathleen and Corinne, along with the Congregation’s Justice Promoters, have been attending webinars to learn about the Action Plan: a seven-year plan and a public commitment to work toward a number of goals. The goals are: response to the cry of the Earth; response to the cry of the poor; ecological economics; adoption of simple lifestyles; ecological education; ecological spirituality; and emphasis on community involvement and participatory action.

“Things are falling into place for to make a significant response,” Sister Kathleen said. “The goals will help to guide our actions and they redefine and rebuild our relationship with each other and with our common home.” The Congregation’s involvement is a matter for the 2022 General Chapter in February, during which the Adrian Dominican Sisters set the direction for the next six years and elect new leadership.

In the meantime, Sister Corinne suggested some actions that Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and other Partners in Mission can take personally, especially during the Season of Creation: read or re-read Laudato Si’; explore the Action Platform website; re-examine your carbon footprint; and sit and walk contemplatively with Earth.

Watch the entire recording of the Sustainability Update below.

Feature photo: Artist’s conceptions of two of the sustainability projects for the Motherhouse Campus of the Adrian Dominican Sisters: a solar array in one of the fields (left) and a carport, which will support more solar panels. 


August 30, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Catholics can celebrate the Season of Creation with the help of liturgical materials prepared by Father James Hug, SJ. The Season of Creation begins September 1, 2021, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and is celebrated through October 4, 2021, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. 

Father Jim Hug, SJ

Begun in 1989, the Season of Creation gives people of faith the opportunity to focus on God as Creator and on their need to appreciate and reverence creation and to cherish and protect Earth. “It has become a powerful way to raise awareness of the gifts of creation and the mission given us by God to care for creation and respond to its needs and crises today,” Father Jim wrote in his introduction to the liturgical guide. Father Jim is Sacramental Minister for the Adrian Dominican Sisters at their Motherhouse.

This year’s theme is “A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God.” Oikos comes from the Greek word for ecology. “By rooting our theme in the concept of oikos, we point to the integral web of relationships that sustain the wellbeing of the Earth,” the Season of Creation Steering Committee wrote in explaining the theme.

For years, Father Jim has based his homilies and adapted the liturgical prayers to the weekly themes of the Season of Creation during Masses at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. This is his second year of preparing a Catholic Liturgical Guide for use in Catholic parishes around the world. 

The materials include weekly points for reflection on the Scripture readings for that day; suggested intercessions; and adaptations of the Prayer over the Gifts, the Prayer after Communion, and the Final Blessing. In addition, Denise Matthias, Music Director, suggests hymns that correlate to each week’s theme. 

The Catholic Liturgical Guide can be downloaded from the Dominican Center: Spirituality for Mission website. Scroll down under the text and click on the second icon from the right. A Spanish translation can also be downloaded on that page. 

Father Jim said he was inspired to write the guide in part by the “increasingly dire warnings from scientists about the devastating changes to life on Earth that will become inevitable” if human beings don’t change their way of life within five to 10 years. “We are approaching tipping points which will unleash processes that could take thousands or even millions of years to reverse – processes that could eventually make much more of the planet uninhabitable and reduce the human population by nearly 80 percent,” he said.

His inspiration also came from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, and from the Catholic Church’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform. “The Vatican is trying to inspire a major global effort to address climate change with the seriousness it so desperately needs,” Father Jim said.

The platform works with institutions, communities, and families around the world, helping them to develop a process-approach to respond to the environmental calls of Laudato Si’, providing guidance on actions that work toward the encyclical’s goals, and recognizing the progress of each organization.  

This year’s Season of Creation materials were shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lessons that it brought to humanity, Father Jim said. “The pandemic has been a massive teaching effort by God, revealing key truths we need to learn and showing us the kind of conversions we must go through if we are to have any hope of addressing climate change effectively and adequately.”

Among the lessons, Father Jim said, are that we are connected throughout the world. Just as no area on Earth is safe from the pandemic as long as some areas are infected, so there are no “islands of safety” from climate change. “We’re all in this together,” he said. In addition, he said, systemic injustices such as racism continue to divide us and must be overcome if we are to work together to combat climate change. 

Finally, Father Jim said, the pandemic has shown that the struggles over masks and vaccines “are pushing us to face the destructiveness of individualist insistence on personal rights and the crucial importance of commitment to the common good.” If we don’t learn that lesson, he said, “we will not be able as a global human community to cooperate as universally and urgently as is needed to address climate change adequately.”

Father Jim believes faith plays a crucial role in guiding humanity in its efforts against global climate change. God has given the Church an “urgent and critical mission” in working to heal Earth. “We are being called to work tirelessly to change our lifestyles and many of our cultural economic values to save Earth and all who dwell on it,” he said. While Earth will survive whether we succeed or fail in this mission, he said, “the 4.5 billion-year history of the planet shows that the long-term effects of failure could take Earth hundreds of thousands or even millions of years to come back from.”

He also encouraged Catholics to pray liturgically in ways “that reflect the vastness of the universe that we now know about and the awesome Mystery that we call God.” He sees the importance of all contemplative prayer. “All spiritual experiences are part of God’s call in these times to respond with our full energy and commitment to healing Earth, the very context within which we live and move and have our being,” he said.

Father Jim’s liturgical materials are one way to help Catholics unite with other communities of faith in the annual celebration of the Season of Creation. “The leadership and wholehearted commitment of faith communities to saving Earth is probably the most hopeful sign I see for Earth,” he said.


 

 

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