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Sustainability Update Focuses on Campus Projects and Laudato Si’ Action Platform

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. 

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