Care for All Creation: Q&A with Sue DiTullio
As an Associate in Mission with the Sisters of Charity, and administrative assistant for the Associates and EarthConnection, Sue DiTullio shares a commitment to the mission and spirit of the SC Community.
Can you talk a bit about your interest in caring for the Earth? Where does this come from? Is it something you’ve always been mindful of, or did the awareness begin after meeting the Sisters of Charity?
I think it is essential to be mindful of our Earth and how we can, as an individual, make a difference. I don’t think I always thought about it as I do now. For example, when I was little, we collected pop bottles. Not that we thought we were helping Earth; we were looking for the five cents we got for each bottle. Working with the Sisters and some Associates has made me more aware of the issues with our Earth, but they also remind me how beautiful our Earth is.
Talk about a couple of the initiatives you started at EarthConnection (EC).
We work as a team at EC, so we are always talking about how we can continue the mission of EC and what S. Paula Gonzalez started many years ago. We want to showcase how doing simple things can make a difference. The Caps to Benches project is a perfect example. We have kept over a ton of caps and lids from the landfill and created three benches and two picnic tables from what we collected. When I brought that idea to the Sisters, I didn’t expect it to take off as it did. However, everyone wanted to get involved, and as we shared the amount we were collecting and saving from the landfill, many reached out about how they appreciated having an avenue to do something as small as saving their caps.
One of the newer ideas is enhancing the grounds at EC. We want to create areas where others can see how using recycled material in their garden or house is doable. We have cleaned up the gardens around EC with native plants and created a tire garden filled with seasonal plants. The tires were from S. Winnie’s car. Around the tire garden, we will have painted rocks from the different groups that visit EC. We are also looking at having a mural painted on the front side of EC. We have people stop in as they want to learn about the building, and we thought having a mural about the environment would be a great idea to showcase what happens there. We are also working on a trail in the woods behind EC for visitors or the community.
Your work includes programming for Girl Scouts and educating them about caring for all creation. Can you elaborate on the importance of providing this type of education at such an early age? What do they respond to most/what seems to excite them or energize them when they are there?
EarthConnection is a learning center about living lightly on this Earth. We must engage the young kids. As they learn to respect and appreciate the Earth, we will benefit. And to learn, they have to experience or observe how they can help create a better place for themselves and others. The programs offered through the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio perfectly match the programs at EC.
I had known that S. Winnie had troops come to her garden, and as I started learning more about S. Cj’s programs, I just thought it would be great to expand on what the troops know about the environment, and S. Cj was perfect in scaling her programs to the different levels. We help the troops fulfill the various environmental badges, but they are also introduced to the EC building and why it is so unique. If it is their first time at EC, they get an introduction to the EC building, how it works, and how it was built, and if they are not there for a badge, they will get information on ways they can help the environment. Once completed, they receive an EC patch to put on their sash. I have to say; when I saw the EC patch on the sash, I was pretty proud of what we are doing.
S. Cj does the presentation of the different GS badges, but I have observed many, and I notice that the younger ones like music and various crafts. The older ones are interested in why this is happening and how they can help; be it collecting caps, planting flowers, turning off lights at their home, or using a water bottle instead of a single-use water bottle. It all adds up for them, and they see the different ways that they, as an individual, can make a difference.
What/who inspires you?
All the Sisters and Associates inspire me. I have seen the passion of the Sisters most of my life as I had them in grade school and high school. S. Louise Akers was a great mentor to have. Her compassion for those living on the margins made me more aware of the struggles that others have. She taught me and introduced me to issues I didn’t think about, like the wealth gap, human trafficking, violence against women, and much more. She took on that social responsibility and highlighted for us that we have an obligation to each other. And now, working with Sisters Cj and Winnie has brought me to environmental justice. I have learned so much about local issues and the many global problems that our world faces. And even if it would be easier not to know about the world’s struggles, the Sisters refuse to hide and try to bring out the issues. They do a great job of reminding us that Earth is worth saving.
How has the knowledge and insight you’ve gained through the years affected your life personally, away from EarthConnection?
Yes, I think the knowledge and insight have enriched my life. But, just like the young ladies we are trying to teach about the environment, we all need the awareness of the issues. I lacked that before I came to work for the Sisters. I have met and have been blessed to be able to attend conferences of many whose ministry is Earth and how we can make it better for all. You can’t help not to be affected if you reflect on the messages, experiences, and examples they shared. The awareness has filtered to my kids. My daughter, Hannah, brought me a whole box of caps that she had been saving. My other daughter, Maria, talked to her group at MSJU, and they came over and sorted caps for us. So we continue the message of living lightly on this Earth.
For more information about the programs and opportunities offered through EarthConnection, please visit https://www.scearthconnection.org