CSA Land Acknowledgement
This article appears in the May Issue of Reflections and Connections
CSA property is privately owned by the congregation and Glacial Lakes Conservancy partners with the sisters to enforce the terms of the conservation document. As the congregation continued to develop a deeper understanding of the history of the land, the sisters adopted a Land Acknowledgment statement.
CSA Land Acknowledgment
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes acknowledges our Motherhouse is located on land that is a gift of the Creator. Nestled along the Niagara Escarpment, near the southeast shore of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, this sacred land is the ancestral homeland of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Menominee, Myaamia, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and many indigenous groups of North America who have passed through or called Wisconsin their home at some point in the last three centuries.
The Sisters of St. Agnes recognize the historical and ongoing realities of settler colonialism. We lament the violence, genocide, broken treaties, efforts to strip our brothers and sisters of their culture and language, and the forced removal of all indigenous peoples from these sacred lands. We acknowledge the First Nations communities who have stewarded this land throughout generations. We respect their past and present elders and continue to learn from their wisdom. We are grateful to pray, study, minister, and live in community on this holy ground. We commit to being good stewards of the land, to showing special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions, and to collaborating with First Nation People today on issues that impact our common home, and the common good.
“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.”
- Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (#14)
Stewarding the Land
On April 22, 2022, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes welcomed a group of civic, ministry, and environmental partners to celebrate the signing of our Conservation Easement Document, in partnership with Glacial Lakes Conservancy, protecting 237 acres of Earth in perpetuity. As part of the event, Sister Jean Steffes, CSA General Superior, shared some of the history of the land:
“The land that we conserve today is especially meaningful for all Sisters of Saint Agnes. Native peoples roamed and lived off this land for centuries. Early settlers farmed it and our founder, Father Caspar Rehrl, who came to the Wisconsin Territory in 1845, traversed it on his missionary journeys. One of his stops was at a farm three miles east of Fond du Lac where he found cold springs of water flowing down a hill and he wished that the Agnes Sisters would someday live on this land. This all came to be in March of 1898, when our foundress, Mother Agnes Hazotte, bought 293.5 acres of land from Mr. Wells and, in September of 1899, she purchased an additional 117 acres of farmland re-naming the whole property Saint Joseph Springs Farm. Prizing the land and rejoicing in its beauty and fertility, the sisters found help to till the soil, raise animals, … grow vegetables, … build a sanitarium, found a high school, and finally, construct our motherhouse in 2001, St. Agnes Convent, here on this spot, sacred to so many diverse peoples for several millennia and treasured by CSA for the past 124 years. Now we have placed this land in a conservancy with Glacial Lakes in order to preserve its pristine beauty for generations to come.”
After the event a small crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting to ceremonially "open" the forests, prairies, wetlands, farm fields, labyrinth, cemetery, nature trails, solar garden, and three stream channels running down the Niagara Escarpment as God provided life giving water in the form of rain.
Find more information about CSA land and watch the video of the event at www.csasisters.org/earth
Read the full issue of Reflections & Connections here.
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