Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

Earth: God’s gift to all creation that requires our stewardship

Sisters look at ecological conversion through lens    of Franciscan values

by Sister Marilyn Herr

We know the Earth is in crisis. We hear about climate change regularly and see its effects on areas of our country and beyond during the evening news. We are each doing positive things to help – recycling, reducing our use of fossil fuels, being mindful of the water we use, and more.

In 2016, we Sisters and Associates took a Corporate Stance regarding Earth. The stance reads:

We believe it is a moral mandate to respect and care for Earth.   We pledge personally and communally in word and deed to work for a more just and sustainable world.

At our 2022 Chapter, we Sisters were invited to approach our commitment to care for Earth from a different perspective – from the inside out – from the four spiritual values at the core of our Franciscan vocation. These values are:

  • Conversion of Heart – We are invited to live more and more in harmony with creation. We come to see God in all God has made, from the rock at our feet to our brothers and sisters near and far.
  • Poverty – We are invited to live simply, focusing on being rather than possessing, rejecting the “throw away” culture, and making decisions in light of their impact on the poor and vulnerable.
  • Contemplation – We are invited to view creation as God’s gift of love, to embrace the beauty of nature and praise God with all God’s creatures.
  • Minority/Service – We are invited to be in relationship with creation as well as of our sisters and brothers and to humbly serve one another. As the relationship deepens, we come to identify with each other.

These values live within us. They give us direction and purpose. They help us make better choices. Franciscan values are a gift to every person and all the world. As we reflected on these values at Chapter, we asked God to open our eyes, open our ears, and open our hearts to see the Earth and all within in, all dwelling on it, all sharing it with us as home as if seeing, hearing, and loving for the first time.

SISTER MARILYN HERR  presents the Chapter Direction, “Ecological Conversion.” (Sister Mary Kabat photo)

Ecological conversion entails  gratitude and graciousness –
a recognition that the world  is God’s loving gift
and that we are not disconnected
from the rest of creatures
but joined in a splendid  universal communion.”
~Pope Francis, Laudato Si

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