We commit ourselves to protect Mother Earth
FSPA has a long and important history of ecospirituality in action.
When sisters purchased the FSPA farmland at St. Joseph Ridge in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1895, and land in Hiawatha, Iowa, in 1962, they did so for economic reasons and to meet the needs of community members. Through those decisions they also protected these lands from development.
As we continue to proclaim A Revolution of Goodness we discovered within ourselves, along with the pain and grief we felt for the many needs of the world, a strong desire to commit to protect and care for Mother Earth.
This desire to protect our land was later translated into practical terms during meetings following A Revolution of Goodness in which future directions were determined. Two proposals involving land in FSPA care were approved by an overwhelming majority of sisters. One proposal placed the 70 acres of land at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha in a conservation easement so that the land will never be developed.
The second proposal addresses the future use of the land at Villa St. Joseph, 200 acres in the coulee region outside of La Crosse. This farmland can now be used for educational projects concerning restorative agriculture, soil rehabilitation and sustainable woodland practices. The hundreds of young people, volunteers and visitors working and learning onsite are the future leaders in crucial acres of land development and in care of all of creation. The Villa land is a deep part of our FSPA heritage, a legacy left to us by those earliest sisters. Most sisters have walked its trails; we have memories of picnicking with classmates at Puffing Billy, a homemade brick fireplace in the woods. Now this land will be used to help future generations learn best practices of land management.
In his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis speaks of the need to think of the common good in relation to future generations. He writes, “Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others.”
We honor the legacy of those who came before us by our actions on behalf of the land and facilities we inherited. It is our responsibility to ensure that it will continue long into the future.
Excerpts of this article are taken from "We commit ourselves to protect and care for Mother Earth" by Sister Betty Daugherty, 1931-2019.