Being Good Stewards of All We Receive
In November 2018, the Conventual Franciscan Friars of Our Lady of Consolation Province launched an exciting initiative celebrating the Franciscan tradition of honoring nature, the environment, and our planet. The Franciscan Earth Care Initiative is a public and spiritual commitment to model the Franciscan vision of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Uniting technology, theology, ecology, and economics, the goals of the initiative are to share with and involve the community through “green” projects, educational programs, volunteering, and partnerships.
As the Patron Saint of ecology, animals, and nature, St. Francis of Assisi praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God. Franciscans’ care for the earth is now more than ever a top priority. Amidst an ever-changing planet and climate, protecting the environment for future generations while demonstrating sustainability are necessary critical activities for all individuals and communities.
Pope Francis focused the world’s attention on these issues in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si (Praised be You…). Then in July 2018, during the International Conference Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth, the Pope said:
“Here we can think back on the call that Francis of Assisi received from the Lord in the little church of San Damiano: ‘Go and repair my house, which, as you can see, lies in ruins.’ Today, the ‘common home’ of our planet also needs urgently to be repaired and secured for a sustainable future.”
Although there is still much to be done within the Franciscan Earth Care Initiative, caring steps have been taken to ensure greater sustainability and protect and highlight the natural world:
- Adjacent to Mount St. Francis Friary and Retreat Center in Mount St. Francis, Indiana, almost 400 acres of hiking trails, woodlands, meadows, and a lake have been held in trust and preserved as a nature sanctuary. Our Lady of Consolation Province wanted to ensure their gift to the community was available for generations to come.
- Recently, Hermitage, a quiet place for spiritual rest and healing, was blessed at Holy Cross Friary and Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico. Preservation of the landscape has provided a place of prayer and solitude with a wonderful view of the Organ Mountains.
- San Damiano Friary in San Antonio, Texas has embraced solar power with a rooftop solar installation.
- At Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota, 60 acres of wooded and grassy areas are available for viewing nature and wildlife.
Currently, the Province is exploring options for solar installations at several locations while future building renovations will include using recycled and sustainable materials. Natural areas within the Province properties provide great opportunities to educate walkers, hikers, and community members about the environment and how they can help. Educational programs incorporating nature and spirituality will bring greater awareness of the importance of respecting and protecting the environment and how the friars and the community can work together to protect the future earth.