Ecospirituality: faith in action

FSPA’s commitment to furthering spirituality through prayer, community and ministry is the collective mission of our three spirituality centers: Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, and Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, in Hiawatha, Iowa. 

Fostering Franciscan spirituality means offering opportunity to care for creation, sharing the practice of ecospirituality and providing a platform for integral ecology. Marywood, Prairiewoods and FSC are doing just that within the spaces and the programs they’ve created for their guests. Here, they share some of the ways in which they are putting ecospirituality into action.

Franciscan Spirituality Center
Franciscan Spirituality Center 

Stacey Kalas, communications/marketing coordinator
We consider it our sacred duty to carry out FSPA’s ministry of integral ecology. As we listen and respond to “Cry of the Earth … Cry of the Poor,” we strive to care for and restore dignity to all of creation. We do this through our radical hospitality, compassionate listening ministry, and prayers, programs and retreats. We also implement practical steps in our daily operations, such as recycling, eliminating single-use products/packaging, and stocking fair-trade products in our Sophia Bookstore.

We are striving to bring together members of the community who are also interested in living out this mission: Our annual Good Friday Justice and Peace Stations of the Cross, offered virtually this year, was a two-mile silent prayer walk from the heart of La Crosse to the Mississippi River, to recall the journey of Jesus as he carried his cross to Calvary. Online attendees recited prayers at each stop, which included the Franciscan Hospitality House, La Crosse County Jail and Mississippi River.

We've also designed an Eco Café. Facilitated by FSPA Integral Ecology Director Beth Piggush, this free event will feature an open-ended and informal discussion about what is happening in the environment, how we are being affected and what simple steps we can take to help care for our common home: Earth.

Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center
Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center

Sister Elizabeth Amman, director
Our sisters have cared for the shoreline of Trout Lake that borders the east side of the property since the time of purchase in 1966. This care continued when a multitude of plants were placed on the shoreline to stop erosion and runoff in the fall of 2019. 

Throughout the years, sisters have planted trees, flowers, and vegetable gardens that serve both themselves and guests during the summer. They not only care for their garden on site, but participate in the local community garden system as well.

Additional changes have been made throughout the property including the installation of a Multi-Flo wastewater treatment system. Waste travels through the system, resulting in clean water that flows back into Trout Lake. This specific system is costly to maintain with only one vendor in the area, but we believe that Mother Earth is worth it.
From late Nov. 2013 to Feb. 2014, the main building on the property, as well as the sisters’ residence were remodeled. Energy-efficient lighting and updated, user-friendly windows were added. Each new addition was designed as
eco-friendly as possible.

Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center
Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center

Andi Lewis, marketing coordinator
We are a sacred space where all are invited “to explore and nurture their relationships with the source of all being, Earth, self and others.” We thrive on the practice of an integral ecology in which our common home, Earth, is the focus for affirming these relationships through eco-practices.

As Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si’, “Whether believers or not, we agree today that Earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. For believers, this becomes a question of fidelity to the Creator, since God created the world for everyone. Hence every ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged.”

Prairiewoods gives thanks for our volunteers from Metro Catholic Outreach in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who lovingly tend to our organic garden. With the assistance of their food pantry, the fruits, vegetables and herbs grown on our 70 acres feed hundreds of hungry families each week.
We love and cultivate the land, which in turn gives life to those who are hungry. The land provides lush sanctuary for pollinators and welcomes the diversity and complexity of all life. The majestic red-tailed hawks, magnificent bur oaks and luminescent dragonflies all contribute to the coordinated beauty.

We all thrive as one family in this prairie-woodland. We compost the remains of what is dying to return the nutrients to the land. We practice the principles of integral ecology and celebrate the inter-connection and inter-dependence of all life. We praise and give thanks to our Creator for the mysterious love that holds us all in balance.


The Franciscan Spirituality Center, Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center and Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center creatively adjusted their programming in times of social distancing. 

You’re encouraged to connect with each spirituality center online to subscribe to their e-newsletters and to learn more about program offerings — those virtual as well as face-to-face in the future.

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