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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
But neither are you free to abandon it.
—The Talmud

As BVM vowed members and Associates, we are called to live in right relationship with all of creation. This covenant relationship is a freeing one, enabling us to risk responding to the urgent needs of our times according to our gifts and in keeping with our BVM mission.

We commit ourselves and we invite you, our circle of friends, to join the world community to rebuild our relationship with each other and our common home. We are called to participate in a Laudato Si’ Action Plan to respond to the cry of the poor and protect vulnerable resources through sustainability programs and integral ecology.

JOIN us in our efforts to act boldly, humbly, and courageously.

What does God ask of us
simply do justice,
love kindness,
and humbly walk with your God.
Micah 6:8 The Inclusive Bible.

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On Jan. 1, 2022, the BVM Leadership Team published the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary commitment statement as a guide for our willingness to listen to the cry of the Earth, to further ongoing ecological conversion, to integrate the Laudato Si’ Action Platform (LSAP) goals, to take bold concrete actions, to practice nonviolence, as we reconcile and heal the pain in creation and sow hope for peace.

What is Laudato Si’?

On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis released his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si, or “Praised Be” from the words of St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun.  Pope Francis urges that “all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvement and talents.” This will not be an easy task, however, and will require honesty, courage and responsibility, as “humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption.” By asserting that “truly, much can be done,” he reassures us that “local individuals and groups can make a real difference.”  (San Diego Diocese LSAP p. 6)

Major Themes of Laudato Si’:

  • A moral and spiritual challenge. …
  • Care for God’s creation. …
  • Impact on the poor. …
  • Called to solidarity. …
  • Technological and economic development. …
  • Supporting life, protecting creation. …
  • A time to act. …
  • Hope and Joy.

What is LSAP?

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform invites a worldwide involvement in spiritual reflection and development of processes to understand and improve the destruction to our earthly environment and its inhabitants. It is based on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ (Encyclical, 2015).

Check out the LSAP Website:  https://www.laudatosi.org/laudato-si/action-platform/

To find out more about the LSAP listen to Pope Francis’ 5:45 minute presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvMWMa84mfk

What are the LSAP Goals?

Laudato Si’ calls us toward sustainability in the spirit of integral ecology. With profound care for each other, our Creator, and all creation, we are building a better future together.
https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/about/

THE LAUDATO SI’ GOALS Discerning a response to the ecological crisis is a profound act of care. At this kairos moment, action is needed. The Laudato Si’ goals guide our actions. Their holistic approach supports a spiritual and cultural revolution as we strive for total sustainability in the spirit of integral ecology.

RESPONSE TO THE CRY OF THE EARTH is a call to protect our common home for the wellbeing of all, as we equitably address the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and ecological sustainability. Actions could include the adoption of renewable energies and energy sufficiency measures, achieving carbon neutrality, protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture, and guaranteeing access to clean water for all.

RESPONSE TO THE CRY OF THE POOR is a call to promote eco-justice, aware that we are called to defend human life from conception to death, and all forms of life on Earth. Actions could include projects to promote solidarity, with special attention given to vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, refugees, migrants, and children at risk, analysis and improvement of social systems, and social service programs.

ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS acknowledges that the economy is a sub-system of human society, which itself is embedded within the biosphere–our common home. Actions could include sustainable production and consumption, ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels and any activity harmful to the planet and the people, supporting circular economies, and prioritizing care labor and protecting the dignity of workers.

ADOPTION OF SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES is grounded in the idea of sufficiency and promoting sobriety in the use of resources and energy. Actions could include reducing waste and recycling, adopting sustainable dietary habits (opting for a more plant-based diet and reducing meat consumption), greater use of public transport, active mobility (walking, cycling), and avoiding single use items (e.g. plastic, etc.).

ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION is about re-thinking and re-designing curricular and institutional reform in the spirit of integral ecology in order to foster ecological awareness and transformative action. Actions could include ensuring equitable access to education for all and promoting human rights, fostering Laudato Si’ themes within the community, encouraging ecological leadership (students, teachers), and ecological restoration activities.

ECOLOGICAL SPIRITUALITY recovers a religious vision of God’s creation and encourages greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy and gratitude. Actions could include promoting creation-centered liturgical celebrations, developing ecological catechesis, retreats and formation programs, and praying in nature.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND PARTICIPATORY ACTION  encourage the development of cultures and policies that protect our common home and all who share it. Actions could include promoting advocacy and developing people’s campaigns, engagement with decision-makers, and encouraging rootedness and a sense of belonging in local communities and neighborhood ecosystems.

Based on the LSAP goals, BVM Sisters created an assessment for each topic to help guide us into future actions. We invite you to revisit this page each week for a new post.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #1 Cry of the Earth?

In 2007–2010 BVM Land & Building Committee researched the land and buildings on the Mount Carmel campus in Dubuque, Iowa. Key areas of the property legacy were to keep the Motherhouse, cemetery and Pine Walk, and other areas for ecological restoration.

In 2018, the BVM Congregation partnered with Presbyterian Homes and Services (PHS) to begin construction of a licensed senior community care center and independent living for BVM sisters and local community residents. Mount Carmel Bluffs is settled on approximately 34 acres at the Mount Carmel campus. Materials from three deconstructed buildings (Caritas, BVM Center, and Marian Hall) were recycled and repurposed with many items donated to Habitat for Humanity.

PHS building integrates high efficiency equipment and energy saving devices. It re-purposed existing geothermal wells, limited irrigation systems to entrances to buildings, and installed downspouts that all lead to retainage ponds on campus so that no water goes over the bluffs to the Mississippi River.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #2 Cry of the Poor?

BVMs and associates have addressed immigration, death penalty, anti-trafficking, women’s issues, and nuclear arm issues in the past 20+ years through:

  • Public stance: statements, sharing through BVM and public communications, participating in public witnesses, prayer vigils, marches, and rallies.
  • Advocacy: for Marshallese/Pacific Islanders, Coalition Against Gun Violence with Loretto Sisters in their NGO, Loretto at the UN, and BVM presence on the National Farmworkers Ministry Board.
  • Funding: Community grants/funds: emergency and local needs, Ministry Partnership Grants, and scholarships for ongoing education.
  • Supporting programs that we helped develop: in Iowa, Illinois, Ghana, and Ecuador.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #3 Ecological Economics?

BVM Congregation invests with a corporation whose commitment address the following:

  • Racial equity and social justice through capital markets that align practices with the UN sustainable developmental goals.
  • Policies that promote executive diversity and pay equity.
  • Investments with communities with more that 50% minority populations.
  • Investments with Environmental, Social, and Governance considerations (ESG) focus areas in climate, equality, and governance.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #4 Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles?

BVM practices for sustainable lifestyles include:

  • geothermal heating,
  • transfer to LED lighting,
  • purchasing hybrid cars,
  • promoting recycling practices,
  • and respectful water use practices.

Planning and development through the Land and Buildings Committee and the Realm Committee research prepared for the BVM-PHS development of Mount Carmel Bluffs. In the demolishment of buildings, sharing all fixtures, furnishings, and equipment with other agencies. The “mall in the hall” offers a means to share personal goods. Mount Carmel Bluffs will welcome any/all BVMs who wish to reside in the new apartments and/or the care facility. Mount Carmel Bluffs will also welcome local residents who wish to live at this common facility when construction is completed. Public transportation is not always realistic at the site, so the local community uses vans to transport sisters.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #5 Ecological Education?

The BVM Congregation:

Continues to support Loretto NGO and National Farm Worker Ministry from their inception.

Provides scholarships and grants to support women to obtain undergrad and graduate degrees and provide tuitional assistance to congregational employees. An extension of this practice provides scholarships and grants for the educational advancement of aspiring individuals on our missions in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Kumasi, Ghana.

Mentors and supports the Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation of Vietnam providing a home for four Vietnamese sisters while they learn English and complete college degrees in the United States.

Established endowed scholarships to provide annual scholarships to schools in dioceses where BVMs once taught.

Continues two current areas of study: climate crisis and racism.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #6 Ecological Spirituality?

In recent years, BVMs and associates have participated in ecological spirituality through interconnection. The Assembly of 2021 focused on spiral movements of the universe and our connectedness with all of creation. Monthly Zoom gatherings about directional statements transformation of our congregation, church, and society toward a more just, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable world for all. The Cosmic Advent video series encouraging us to see God’s presence and our interconnectedness. In addition, there were the following:

  • BVM led eco-spirituality weekend retreats at various spirituality centers; Creation-centered prayer services throughout the year.
  • Day of Recollection in preparation for the signing of our BVM Commitment to the LSAP.
  • Annual 8th Day Center for Justice Good Friday Walk.
  • Attendance in various workshops and presentations, and
  • Encouraging study of books relating to ecological spirituality.

How have BVMs responded Laudato Si’ Goal #7 Community Engagement and Participatory Action ?

Since 1982, BVM practices have supported the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC). The RKC provides enrichment and socialization to men and women 55 years and older through courses on multiple topics in various disciplines.  The RKC also offered garden space to seniors in the area from 2007–2018.

BVM Leadership advocates for systems change through public support of justice issues. Individual BVMs involve themselves in letter writing and phoning government officials to advocate for systematic change, justice, and equality. In addition, BVMs provide financial support to and take action with:

NETWORK, a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace. Network educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation.

Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle, Wash., grounded in Catholic social teaching, builds community to act for systemic change in our church and world.

…all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents (LS 14)

 

How can I get involved?

Join the BVMs as we participate with the world community in responding to the cry of our common home to work towards sustainability and integral ecology. See the BVM Commitment Statement:  https://www.bvmsisters.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Signed-Document.pdf

The Care for Earth Committee encourages you to frequent the website for activities, resources, photos, and prayers for you to consider, as you engage with caring for the earth. (https://www.bvmsisters.org/care-for-our-common-earth-home).

As you progress in your activities, we invite you to share your writings, activities, photos, or videos via email at careforearth@bvmsisters.org so that we might post these on the website as well. Please consider writing a description and remember to include names.

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Contact Us

Care for Our Common Earth Home Committee:
BVMs Bette Gambonini, Rose Mary Meyer, Marguerite Murphy, and BVM Associate Katie Anders.
careforearth@bvmsisters.org

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