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Making Changes to Care for Creation

 Olivia Bordeau

“There is hope. We can all cooperate, each one with his/her own culture and experience, each one with his/her own initiatives and abilities, so that our Mother Earth returns to its original beauty and creation returns to shine according to God’s Plan.”

Pope Francis, Laudauto Si’

On November 11, 2021, our congregation publicly committed to join Pope Francis and the universal Catholic Church on a seven-year journey to ecological conversion through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. Efforts towards this commitment have been in the works since 1997, and the journey continues. Changes are needed to sustain our Earth, and there is no better time to act than now.

Laudato Si' Action Platform

Our plan sets measurable targets for goals our congregation aims to meet. There are specific checkpoints for education, major buildings, waterways, land and air, spirituality, advocacy and social action, holding us accountable for the actions we take.

Each month, we are issuing Eco-Challenges for the public to showcase a wide variety of simple changes that can be made to our everyday lives that will positively impact the Earth. These changes are imperative for our environment to not only survive but to thrive. You can find them on our website and social media.

This year, many of our education efforts will focus on “greenwashing,” when companies create the image that they are sustainable and ethical when behind the curtain they are not, misleading consumers into thinking they are making sustainable swaps. Some red flags to look for include dubious certifications and meaningless words like “eco-friendly” or “plant-based.” Asking questions can help us uncover which companies are truly making a change and which ones are simply deceptive. Even the brands you may think are “eco-friendly” may be falling into the fallacy of greenwashing.

Local Efforts

Each of our locations is making conscious efforts to work toward our Laudato Si’ goals and encourage others to do the same.

Albany

The Albany Province has taken steps to reduce its waste, conserve their land and switch over to more “green” products throughout its Provincial House. These changes include swapping bottled liquid laundry detergent for plastic-free laundry sheets and using Fair Trade coffee.

The province has also made a commitment to recycle as much plastic as possible. They have invested in TerraCycle boxes to recycle items that otherwise would not be taken in normal recycling, including empty potato chip bags and plastic pens.

Two sisters pose as they dispose of potato chip bags in a TerraCycle box
Sisters Clare Pelkey and Mary Lou Dolan from the Albany Province standing with a recently filled Terracycle box that was shipped out later that day.

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Province has set up a full Earth Friendly Sustainability Plan for Carondelet Center. This plan includes moving away from single-wrapped food, purchasing less beef, using Terracycle boxes and choosing blackout curtains rather than light-filtering ones to reduce air conditioning use during the hot summers. Light bulbs have also been swapped out for motion-activated LED bulbs, which help them save electricity when a room is not being used.

St. Paul

The St. Paul Province has made education a key focus in their movement towards ecological conversion. Their community members are well versed in best practices and all residents of their senior living complex have their own composting boxes. They have also created a community garden space to promote using local and fresh ingredients, supporting pollinators and cultivating connections within their community.

A group of five people stand around a commercial kitchen table prepping vegetables
Members of the St. Catherine University and St. Paul Province communities prepare a Ghanaian green chili sauce from the St. Kate’s/ CSJ community gardens for their food shelf.

St. Louis

The St. Louis Province has made energy efficiency a big focus. They have replaced windows and other building items that could lead to a large waste of heat, energy and other resources. Making these swaps has led to a 6% savings in electricity alone. They have also reduced their food waste by repurposing food and setting up better, more efficient meal plans.

Japan

Our sisters in Japan have gotten creative with their ecological approach and have made it a goal to repurpose items that otherwise would end up in the trash. Clothing items are being repurposed; bags are being reused; food is being composted; and as many items as possible are being recycled.

Peru

Meanwhile, our Peruvian sisters are developing a curriculum focused on the care of our common home. When completed in 2024, this curriculum will be distributed to educators, students and their families in the schools in which our sisters teach.

Join our efforts

Our congregation alone cannot fix this crisis. We invite you, our partners in mission and friends, to join us in our commitment to ecological conversion. Small, everyday changes may seem insignificant, but added together, they make a big impact. Responding to the cry of our Earth is our responsibility, and Pope Francis calls on us now to take care of the earth, our common home by joining the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Learn more about our commitment to the Earth

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About us

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.

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