Sister and affiliate relationships fuel FSPA Eco in Action
This year marks a profound celebration of spiritual collaboration, a sacred relationship of mutual support in living the Gospel and transforming our world totally sustainable in the spirit of integral ecology of Laudato Si’. The global Catholic Church will navigate quantitative and qualitative ministry work as part of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform set to launch in May 2021. The measure of this work is the accomplishment of seven goals by congregations that call us to care for our common home, including 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 community engagement and participatory action.
Together, sisters and affiliates are living a relationship that is truly transforming our world, meeting and exceeding these Laudato Si’ objectives since 1981.
“In the spirit of Laudato Si’ and the community’s call to build relationships with all suffering in our Earth community, the sisters and affiliates of the FSPA Ecospirituality Committee are working together to incorporate actions that bring hope and care for all creation into our lives,” says Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Karen Kappell. “Recently, sisters, affiliates and spirituality centers have been working together to educate and challenge us to live more in harmony with nature by co-creating virtual opportunities. The success of these creative, collaborative efforts is strengthening our sense of partnership in community, mission and Franciscan living.”
FSPA Integral Ecology Director Beth Piggush affirms that the collective work of sisters and affiliates is answering the call to ecological justice. “When Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’, he was inviting all of us into a dialogue of how to care for our common home by acknowledging people and planet interconnectedness. The actions and relationships we have together as FSPA partners in ministry are tied to the Laudato Si’ goals: sharing discovery and hospitality, collaborating for the whole life in partnership and respect, and loving one another with compassion and integrity through prayer, witness and service.” By sister and affiliate relationships and actions, ecological stewardship is bountiful. Efforts include tending to FSPA land at our spirituality centers in Wisconsin and Iowa and at St. Joseph Ridge in La Crosse, Wisconsin, providing models of education for students and communities by investing in community gardens and calling for an end to food insecurity — meeting many of the seven Laudato Si’ goals.
In January, Viterbo University nursing students Alexis Dubiel, Destiny Anderson, Carson Timm and Amy Bassler volunteered to help FSPA Ecospirituality Project Outreach Coordinator Karen Stoltz in Jacoba’s Greenhouse. One of many groups of students who come from local schools and universities, “they received an FSPA overview, incuding who we are, some of our sustainability practices, what we grow and where the produce goes,” says Karen.
“Affiliates highly value ecospirituality, bringing together spirituality with environmental activism,” says FSPA Director of Affiliation Beth Allen. Many affiliates, she shares, are drawn to St. Francis of Assisi, “a man who started a movement centered on the poor and marginalized and prayed to Brother Sun and Sister Moon,” and to Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Thea Bowman, who said, “Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle we’d have a tremendous light.” And affiliates “hold this wisdom close to us in daily actions: awareness of the gift of clean air and access to water, considering our culture of consumerism when we shop, tending to small backyard gardens and learning to compost at home, adoption of simple lifestyles.”
From Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Meg Earsley shares that she is “very enthused about the announcement that FSPA sisters, partners in mission and affiliates are actively participating in the seven-year Laudato Si’ initiative.” Sister Meg is a trained Laudato Si’ animator, a program that brings Catholic teaching on climate change into communities. “I became even more aware of the effect consumerism and abundance has on all of creation, especially those who live in poverty globally.” This plan, she says, will not only bring awareness and inspiration but will move us to “take concrete steps to transform ourselves and begin to reverse the effects on creation. We will be among the pioneers that bring Laudato Si’ theories into practice.”
The ecospirituality committee has put forth several new initiatives to further realize the seven goals. Efforts include the development of the prayer series Adoration for Creation (coming soon) and the 2021 Eco in Action Lunch & Learn Series, prompted by the FSPA proclamation made during A Revolution of Goodness that calls us to stretch, to be people of encounter who stand with all suffering in our Earth Community. Again, action that meets several of the seven goals.
Of the Lunch & Learn series, Sandra Hoeser, an FSPA affiliate who actively engages in the work of the ecospirituality committee, says that it is created “to help deepen our understanding and knowledge, to strengthen our inter-related connectivity with God’s creation and the environment. Presenters, participants and attendees “are like a spider web of relationships of all creation.” Laudato Si’, shares Sandra, “is a transformative entity for all of us as co-creators through our shared DNA, which is God. All life is God.”