Growing a strong foundation of faith
From pulling weeds in the family garden to driving a tractor across acres of farmland in central Minnesota, Lucy Slinger learned from her parents the values of caring for all creation. These values led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s in plant pathology. Both degrees propelled her into agricultural research and a job with the Cooperative Extension Service in Michigan. Later she earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, science K-12, with an emphasis on teacher development and in environmental education.
As a professor in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, her own education was enhanced by an opportunity to provide in-service education for U.S. Department of Defense instructors stationed around the world.
After checking off travel to all continents, Lucy embarked on another expedition. This time, led by a deep attraction to the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi, she began her formal quest to grow in Franciscan spirituality. It led her to the nurturing soil of the Secular Franciscans. This group of lay women and men continue to live Franciscan values in the context of their own lives. Sensing a call to deepen her commitment to the Franciscan way of life, Lucy began exploring religious life with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. After mutual discernment and a nine-year incorporation process, Sister Lucy professed final vows on August 7, 2010, securing her roots in community life and mission.
When asked how religious life has provided her an opportunity to pursue her passion for the environment, she replied: “Choosing to become an FSPA in mid-life was not an easy change, but it has brought me peace that surpasses all understanding, as we hear about in the Bible. As a member of this community I am challenged to authentically be all that I can be. I know with unquestionable certitude that I am supported and loved by a group of wonderful, independent, creative women. Being a part of community has clearly amplified what I can do with my life in ways that I could never do as a single Catholic woman. Being an FSPA enlarges, enables and enhances, as well as supports and encourages, my work for the cosmic, common good. As an FSPA, I continue the tradition started by St. Francis of Assisi and continued by Pope Francis to care for creation. What a blessing and grace-filled way of life that I’ve grown to know.”
Sister Lucy carries forward FSPA’s tradition of education as an instructor at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and as the ecological advocate for FSPA. As an instructor she continues to teach sustainability and ecospirituality. She also supervises interns as they navigate the first days of identifying plants and weeds to developing their own research projects. Students from area schools come to the garden to extend their own classroom learning. Hundreds of visitors are enriched as they explore sustainable growing practices. Sister Lucy supervises volunteers as they bring in the annual garden harvest — a harvest weighing four to five tons. As ecological advocate she keeps the congregation updated and networks with multiple organizations promoting sustainable practices.