“Charity is certainly
greater than any rule.
Moreover, all rules
must lead to charity.”

St. Vincent de Paul


Protecting Land


“Our earth is not an object to be exploited, but a living organism inviting our dialogue and participation.” – Diarmuid O’Murchu

“A nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Dirt, soil, call it what you want—it’s everywhere we go.

It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it’s no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are—and have long been—using up Earth’s soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. . . . David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.”
(Jacket Cover of Dirt, the Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery)

Make compost with garden waste.

In nature, compostable waste, like the waste found on the forest floor, decomposes into soil through the action of microorganisms, and returns energy and nutrients to the forest floor. Our trash contains a large amount of organic waste, which, instead of being returned to the natural cycle, is cut off from the soil and added to our landfills.” (365 Ways to Save the Earth by Philippe Bourseiller)

Conservation Easement

Conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and an eligible organization that restricts future activities on the land to protect its conservation values. Across the United States, thousands of landowners who care about their land have partnered with easement holders—nonprofit organizations and public agencies—to ensure the land’s protection in perpetuity. Click here to read more. (The Conservation Easement Handbook)

Nuns Race to keep sacred grounds

It’s not just a feel-good spiritual mission. Over the past 40 years, as the number of Catholic nuns has plummeted, religious orders have been lured by offers to sell their land. But a New England nun has launched a faith-based mission to protect the land from developers.

Old Growth Woods Plant Survey

Field botanist, Daniel W. Boone, surveyed the plants found in the Old Growth Woods on the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse property. Click here to view his complete report.

Recommended Readings:

Earth Healing – Reflections on Land Stewardship by Albert J. Fritsch, SJ

The Our Father: Our Environmental Teacher by Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D., St. Anthony Messenger, October 2007

I’d Like to Say: We Should Celebrate Darwin by Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D., St.Anthony Messenger, November 2009

Recycled Products

There are many examples of common plastic items we use every day. If they get recycled, they become repurposed products. If they get “thrown away” they remain in landfills, in oceans and as scattered litter for thousands of years. For examples of these common plastic items …

Natural or Green Burial

Green or Natural Burial is an acceptable alternative to customary burial. It involves returning our bodies to the natural cycle of life by choosing to be buried in a simple biodegradable container without embalming and without a concrete grave liner.” (“Natural Burial,” a brochure produced by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wis.)

Sisters of Charity now have the option to choose this earth-friendly type of burial when they are buried at our Motherhouse. Rather than a metal casket, a simple wooden casket will be used. It would even be possible to omit the casket and have the body wrapped in a blanket or shroud. To hold the body until burial, refrigeration will be used instead of embalming. To hold the casket in place in the ground without a grave liner, the grave will not be as deep.

This option is becoming more available for any person in our country. Besides being more earth-friendly, it is often cheaper. In the nineteenth century, this is the way persons in our country were buried. Embalming started around the time of the Civil war, when bodies needed to be shipped back to family members in other states. As the funeral industry in our country continued to grow, all types of metal caskets, some quite expensive, began to be chosen for the deceased. Grave liners, which have not been used outside the United States, began to be required by some cemeteries in our country.

“No state laws require embalming or the use of a coffin or outer burial container as a condition of burial (though many cemeteries have policies that require vaults).” Final Rights, Reclaiming the American Way of Death, by Joshua Slocum & Lisa Carlson, 2011

Resource Book:
Final Rights, Reclaiming the American Way of Death, by Joshua Slocum & Lisa Carlson, 2011


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Following in Blandina’s Footsteps

Associates Maria Gutierrez, Pat Grubelnik, and Patti Traver are among those who continue the ministry of hospitality, charity, and presence at the John Zay House in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Read More