Laudato Si’ Action Platform Launches with Leadership from the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Today, the World Day of Prayer for the Poor, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announces the launch of the next phase of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA) has played a key role in its development as a member of the Religious Order working group.
The Laudato Si' Action Platform is a key Vatican initiative to empower the universal Church to achieve total sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology. The human family faces increasing risks of hunger, disease, migration, and conflict due to climate change and environmental degradation, unfortunately, the most vulnerable suffer above all.
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform provides practical tools to address this socio-ecological crisis. By committing to creating a Laudato Si’ Plan, CSA members can access free resources to evaluate where you stand on the road to sustainability, reflect on the principles of integral ecology, and make a plan to take action.
Over the past year, CSA has helped shape both the model and the content for this program. Through deep and sustained conversations with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and a global network of partners, the Holy Spirit has created a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, a shared space for action that offers new momentum to urgently address our socio-ecological crisis.
We invite you and all members of the universal Church to join us and the Vatican on this Laudato Si’ journey.
Find out more at www.laudatosiactionplatform.org
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes is grateful for the call of Pope Francis to Hear the Cry of Earth and the Cry of the Poor.
In light of the growing impact of climate change on the global community, we, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes and the Associate Community USA, honoring our interdependence with all of God’s creation and in a spirit of nonviolence, personally, communally, and collaboratively commit to actions that:
We commit to actions that:
- Flow from a spirituality of integral ecology (Laudato Si’ – Chapter 4) that expresses interconnections among environmental, economic, scientific, social and cultural systems,
- Respect Earth and the interdependence of all life,
- Consume less of Earth’s nonrenewable resources through the six R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, and restore,
- Educate ourselves and others about the equitable development of renewable, cleaner energy sources in order to
- mitigate the impact of climate change and
- enable the most vulnerable to adapt to climate change
- Promote a low-carbon economy especially in Nicaragua and the USA where we serve,
- Cooperate with governmental and non-governmental organizations that are committed to care for Earth.
This is not a new commitment, but rather a deepening of our community’s recognition of the sacred interdependence of creation and our place in the web of life. This is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to developing and acting out an ecological consciousness both individually and corporately. This renewed commitment is especially critical given the urgent need to address the global climate crisis.
The Vatican’s seven-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform calls the worldwide Catholic community and “all men and women of good will” (LS 3) to publicly engage in the work of transformation through integral ecology.
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes and the Associate Community USA publicly commit to the seven-year process of transformation by strategically engaging the seven goals of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
Greater use of clean renewable energy and reducing fossil fuels in order to achieve carbon neutrality, efforts to protect and promote biodiversity, guaranteeing access to clean water for all, etc.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
The 880-panel solar installation on our motherhouse grounds is a tangible reflection of our commitment to care for Earth. Our solar panels generate 50% of our energy needs and substantially reduce our carbon footprint.
In 2020, when Alliant Energy announced the launch of its first community solar project in Fond du Lac, CSA supported the endeavor by purchasing 568 solar panels (called “blocks”) of the solar garden. This investment means that the entire St. Agnes Convent and the on-site maintenance building will be 100% powered by the sun. The Community Solar program provides an opportunity for customers, both residential and corporate, to share the benefits of solar power without having to install solar panels on their property and will be fully operational by the end of 2021. Learn more about our solar array >>
The CSA motherhouse was designed to honor and accommodate the natural features that surround it including the spring-fed streams that run through the property. In the summer of 2021, as construction began on the road near the springs, CSA advocated on behalf of the springs and adjusted landscaping to protect waters from run-off during building and roadway construction.
CSA protects biodiversity by maintaining prairies of native plants and scheduled prairie burns. The photo above is one of many from the 2021 prairie burn. Read about the benefits of prairie burring and see photos from the 2021 burn. >>
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, especially the most vulnerable such as children, indigenous, refugees and migrants.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
In a 2006 press release, then CSA General Superior, Joann Sambs, stated, "Most inmates on death row cannot afford an attorney and are people of low social status... Even in states with tight restrictions on the death penalty's use, a disproportionate number of people executed are poor and/or members of racial and ethnic minorities." This remains true today. In November 2006, CSA approved a corporate stance on the Death Penalty. It was affirmed by the CSA USA Associate Community in February 2021. Based on several sources, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Ministry produces a list of names and addresses of inmates to be executed every month. Members of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPIC) write them a letter and pray for them and their victims. On the day of their execution, a candle is lit, and their name is mentioned in the liturgy.
Although they have different customs and cultures, 370 million Indigenous people around the world face the same harsh realities: eviction from their ancestral lands, being denied the opportunity to express their culture, physical attacks and treatment as second-class citizens. Indigenous peoples are often marginalized and face discrimination in countries’ legal systems, leaving them even more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
Since 1993, numerous CSA Sisters have chosen ministries on the Navajo reservation, particularly in Arizona. These women leaders are influential in advocating for inclusion of Native Americans for roles in the diocese and on school boards as well as helping women find meaningful work. They’ve learned much about history and culture from the indigenous peoples of these lands including how our Catholic teachings and practices fit into their indigenous spirituality. In addition to the work our Sisters do, a small group of Associates also visited the reservation to participate in a retreat given by a Navajo women. For years, the parishes on the Navajo reservations prayed for the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. She was canonized in October 2012, and we celebrate her Feast Day each July 14th.
The current leadership team of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, issued a Statement on the Treatment of Immigrants on the Border. Additionally, in observance of World Refugee Day, on June 20, 2018, a Statement on Separation of Immigrant Children from Parents was issued.
CSA Sisters have a long history of work on the border and continue to work nationwide in ministries that include being an attorney, a librarian, and working in schools, healthcare, and parishes in parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
CSA Sisters and Associates in the Fond du Lac community lead, share resources, and serve women and children as they are called. Click the links below to learn about a few examples of local ministries we support:
In 2001, CSA was one of six founding congregations of UNANIMA International, a non-governmental organization at the United Nations focused on ending the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. On the Feast of St. Agnes, January 21, 2007, the CSA Congregation adopted a Corporate Stance on Human Trafficking to announce, "we stand in solidarity with the victims of human trafficking and are against the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation." This was affirmed by the CSA USA Associate Community in November 2020.
The CSA Constitution, paragraph 4, states: "Our heritage calls us to a missionary zeal for nurturing the seed of faith and a pastoral concern for those whose faith life or human dignity is threatened." Paragraph 54 of the Constitution goes on to state: "We commit ourselves to respond to the church's call to hear the cry of the poor, and we reaffirm our commitment to those whose faith life or human dignity is threatened in any way."
In 2021, UNANIMA, which has recently expanded its mission, released a report showing the strong ties between trafficking and homelessness.
Acknowledges that the economy is a sub-system of human society, which itself is embedded within the biosphere - our common home. Actions include ethical investments and divestments in anything harmful to the planet and the people.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
CSA is a member of Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment (SGI). SGI is a coalition of faith and values-driven institutional investors who view the management of their investments as a powerful catalyst for social change. By investing in socially responsible enterprises and choosing ethical banking and insurance companies, SGI members use the economy to advocate for their values, such as the value of resilience.
The 2021 SGI Conference, which is themed Resilience: Building a Just & Equitable Economy for All, will be held virtually October 12th from 4:30-6:30 pm. Their "panel of company, investor, and labor representatives will offer their perspectives on how to implement positive change from the learnings and challenges of 2020, dismantle systems that perpetuate gender and racial inequities, and build an economy that serves all people and ensures the dignity of all workers." For more information contact SGI Board Member, Sister Ruth Battaglia, CSA or use the link below.
CSA works to practice fair and sustainable purchasing by supporting ethical businesses, taking a "total cost of ownership approach" to purchases. Issues of Reflections & Connections, CSA's quarterly publication of mission and ministry stories, are printed on FSC Mix paper. Products that bear this label are made using a mixture of materials from FSC-certified forests, recycled materials, and/or FSC controlled wood. While controlled wood is not from FSC certified forests, it mitigates the risk of the material originating from unacceptable sources.
By becoming aware of where consumer products come from and becoming a mindful consumer, we can do our part to protect places like the Amazon Forest, and help save our planet. The Amazon Aid Foundation provides a list of ways to be a better consumer.
This goal is grounded in the idea of sufficiency and promoting sobriety in the use of resources and energy. Actions include reducing waste, recycling, and adopting sustainable dietary habits.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
The Congregation owns a total of 13 Toyota Prius; fuel efficient hybrid cars classified as Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (SULEV). With clean emissions, there will be less poisonous gases and pollutants released into the atmosphere. From the cars we drive to the trees and flowers we plant, and the lifestyles we choose, CSA has been engaged in caring for Earth in numerous ways, for numerous years.
The Peace and Social Justice Ministry of St. Matthew Catholic Church in North Carolina, shares these 50 easy ways to care for creation.
In additional to recycling practices throughout their homes and work spaces, CSA Sisters participate in CSA Swap - an online message board for Sisters only, who are looking to share or find items such as musical instruments, office supplies, household goods and furniture, and more. By sharing among themselves sisters help avoid purchasing duplicates or discarding items that may find a second-home in the community. What they don't re-home within the congregation, they donate to the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to ensure it has a new life.
This goal 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 to include equitable access to education for all.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
The Laudato Si' Movement has over 8,000 certified Animators, 800+ member organizations, and dozens of Chapters active on six continents working hard every day to bring Laudato Si' to life. To date, three CSA Sisters have received in-depth online Laudato Si' Animator training and certification and have been inspiring our community to care for creation.
As part of her Animator work Sister Dolores Lytle regularly updates Laudato Si' Resources on her Facebook page.
Check it out >>
Interested in being among the next certified Laudato Si' Animators? Sign up for the free Laudato Si’ Animator training course that will help you understand the root causes of the climate crisis and give you the tools you need to lead your community in bringing Laudato Si’ to life.
For those who like the feel of a real book in their hands, The CSA JPIC Library has a small but mighty collection of books, videos and magazines, including a handful on environmental education. A current list can be found on the JPIC website and is updated regularly. Anyone wishing to borrow from, or donate to, the library can contact email@example.com.
In the Genesis Creation story, God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth." God created human beings; God created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature. God created them male and female.
God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” [Gen 1:26-28]
What does it mean to be created in the “image of God?” As part of her spiritual retreat this fall, Sister Dianne Bergant, CSA, explored that very concept at the responsibilities that come with it.
This goal 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.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
CSA is committed to being stewards of Earth and the congregation’s property, which includes three stream channels running down the Niagara Escarpment west, 112 acres of agricultural lands, 15 acres of prairie/meadow lands, and 13 acres of forested wetlands. Throughout the region this same stewardship is illustrated by Glacial Lakes Conservancy (GLC). GLC is celebrating 25 years of fulfilling their mission to permanently preserve and protect land and water resources for future generations.
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes has been offering the community Earth Day celebrations for many years, in the form of festivals, fairs, and prayer services. The last two years, we have participated in virtual prayer services planned by LCWR 9 Legislative Network. Collaboration with others has always been central to our environmental justice work. It is a special time to work with the students of St. Mary Springs and Marian University, local officials, interfaith groups, health care providers, and environmental organizations, including groups like Wisconsin Green Muslims, who apply Islamic environmental justice teachings in daily life and form coalitions with others working toward a just, healthy, peaceful and sustainable future. “There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you…” (The Qur’an, 6:38)
In the late summer of 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic as people across the world were adapting to new realities, a new normal in an immense slow down, many turned to technology as a way to connect with each other. CSA also adapted to use of new technologies. "Staying in the Fray of Life" was a five-session, CSA preached virtual retreat, which granted many hope and encouragement, and fed the desire to deepen their relationship with God. Sessions offered prayer, handouts for further reflection, and opportunities for spiritual guidance. These sessions continue to be available on the CSA You Tube channel.
Session 1 - Priming the Pump
Session 2 - Saying "Yes" to God: Loss and Surrender
Session 3 - It's All in the Attitude
Session 4 - Changing our Hearts: CONVERSION
Session 5 - The Immune System of the Human Spirit
Encourage the development of cultures and policies that protect our common home and all who share it. Actions include advocacy and campaigns that create a sense of belonging in local communities.
A Few of CSA's Actions So Far
Living sustainably is rooted in CSA’s history and mission. Father Caspar Rehrl, earliest founder of the Congregation, once said “Oh, how I wish that the Sisters of St. Agnes might someday live on this beautiful land watered by springs.” That land eventually became CSA’s St. Joseph Springs Farm and is the current location of our Motherhouse.
For more than 160 years the Sisters tended this land by:
- Caring for the soil through farming and gardening
- Protecting the woodlands
- Preserving the integrity of springs and streams
- Maintaining open prairies to preserve native wildflowers, plants and grasses
- Installing solar panels which generate clean energy
In addition, members have reduced, reused, and recycled in order to better steward the resources of Earth. Various spiritual, social, and educational expressions among the members reflect their love and care for Earth and for the most vulnerable.
Sisters and Associates advance the mission of CSA and bring their charism into the world in countless ways of outreach, programming, education, advocacy, and activism. They engage in community events like farmers markets, festivals, and fairs to connect with the wider public to celebrate the themes of Laudato Si'.
One such event in the Fond du Lac community is CELEBRATE commUNITY. This multicultural fair originated at Marian College, now Marian University, in the early 2000s. Marian University is sponsored by CSA and was founded in 1936; celebrating 85 years this month. CELEBRATE commUNITY has since grown to become a vast, inclusive celebration of the diversity of the community, honoring the inherent worth and dignity all people and the traditions they share.
Annually, the Sisters of St. Agnes light a Peace Tree in late November and display it at the motherhouse during the Advent and Christmas seasons. The first Peace Tree lighting was initiated during Desert Storm in 1990. During the month, the Sisters have welcomed the public to join them for a contemplative prayer service. The hour of contemplative prayer asks for peace in our hearts and respect for all people, races, religions, and countries. 2020 was a year of adjustment for the whole world, but this annual tradition has carried on, in various forms, for over 30 years.
In light of the growing impact of climate change on the global community, we, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, honoring our interdependence with all of God's creation and in a spirit of nonviolence, personally and communally renewed and recommitted to care for Earth, home of all living creatures by way of a corporate stance in May 2016. The Care for Earth stance was then affirmed by the Associate Community in November 2020. This stance will continue to guide us in our Laudato Si' journey towards integral ecology.