As Sisters of St. Joseph we believe that we are a part of creation and not apart from it
LAND ETHIC STATEMENT
As Sisters of St. Joseph, our charism calls us to love of God and neighbor without distinction. We believe that all is one and that our call is to an active inclusive love that seeks this union with God and the sacred community of life that includes all of creation – air, soil, water, plants, and animals. We see ourselves in union with this community that we hold as the neighbor through whom God continues to be revealed.
We acknowledge our responsibility to balance our communal needs and the needs of Earth now and into the future. As we continue to deepen these beliefs and understandings and make decisions regarding the land entrusted to our care, we commit ourselves to the following:
- To treat all parts of Earth as sacred and Earth’s beings as our neighbors to be respected and loved;
- To honor the beauty of creation as life giving for the human spirit, allowing ourselves to be filled with awe and reverence before the wonders of creation;
- To educate ourselves, our associates, and our partners in ministry regarding the bioregions in which we live and to be well informed in modern sciences that will enrich our beliefs and perspectives;
- To affirm that every member of the Earth community has intrinsic value in its being, and the right to live in its natural habitat, and to fulfill its role in the ever-renewing processes of Earth;
- To keep in mind the needs of the persons in all of our local neighborhoods;
- To preserve, protect, restore, and cherish the integrity, biodiversity, balance, and beauty of the land and all the species with whom we share it;
- To advocate for ethical principles in the treatment of our bioregion and to collaborate with individuals and groups who are committed to these principles;
- To monitor the ways in which we use and consume necessary products and to consider options for obtaining products that are not harmful to the land, the inhabitants, or the bioregion; and
- To research options such as land trusts, easements, deed restrictions, and the transfer or selling of development rights in order to determine the best way to preserve the land that we hold in sacred trust.
We will evaluate the consequences of all decisions made regarding the land in the context of our mission and we will be aware of the interrelated justice issues and the global implications. We will make our decisions only after serious discernment and research. As a congregation, we will consider the following questions prior to making any decisions:
- What are the moral and ethical implications of this decision?
- Are there other ecologically viable alternatives to this decision?
- How does this decision respect the present and future integrity of the land?
- How does this decision preserve the soil, water, air and species of the land and the larger bioregion?
- Have we collaborated with other persons whom this decision will affect?
Wherever we are located, these beliefs lead us to practice a mutually enhancing relationship with the land that has been entrusted to our care.
The Garden Ministry
We established an organic garden on the Brentwood grounds in keeping with our belief that all of God’s creation is sacred and should be treated with respect and care. The soil remains in its pristine state without pesticides and pollutants and free and healthy chickens provide organic eggs.
We worked with Suffolk County to preserve the land and to return it to agriculture. Parcels of land have been leased to farmers and the fields were restored for food and seed production. The vegetables grown here are organic and are available at a farm stand for purchase by the local community.
In response to our Land Ethic Statement, the congregation partnered with organizations interested in promoting clean, sustainable energy use and generation on Long Island. We installed a 1MW system ground mounted solar array system (3,192 panels) on the Brentwood campus.
To make our Brentwood grounds more sustainable we replaced lawns with rain gardens, native grass meadows, and native plants. These drought-tolerant natural areas offer habitat for wildlife, attract insects and pollinators and increase overall biodiversity while also maintaining an aesthetically pleasing campus.
We are improving the sewage disposable system on the Brentwood campus in a sustainable manner while reducing the nitrogen threat to the groundwater. Two innovative/alternative wastewater technologies will be installed to reduce the amount of nitrogen discharged into groundwater.
The Brentwood campus contains significant natural resources. Our 40 acres of woodlands overlie large quantities of pure drinking water and contains a great diversity of trees, plants, and birds. In collaboration with the NYS DEC we are establishing a conservation easement to preserve the woodland in perpetuity.
Sharing in the Great Work
Thomas Berry pointed out that the great work of our time is to build a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and our fragile planet. To view a video to see what the Sisters of Saint Joseph are doing as they share in this great work click here.
During the Season of Creation from September 1, 2020 to October 4, 2020 the Earth Matters Committee presented a Litany of Creation. These short videos share individual experiences of the wonder of creation. Click below to enjoy these reflections.
At the closing of the Season of Creation, the Cosmic Walk was opened.
Sharing Our Space: Summer of 2018 at the Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood
In response to our Land Ethic commitment, many people visited our Brentwood campus this summer. We continue to share this precious space as we educate, collaborate, and model best practices. Our farming initiatives have increased access to and consumption of healthy, organic, and locally grown produce for our Brentwood neighbors and the surrounding community. The Thera Farm stand has accepted more than $17,000 of Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons for the purchase of organic produce by our neighbors with low incomes. Various groups and individuals toured our solar array, native grass meadow, raingarden, and woodlands. Others came to volunteer at the CSJ Organic Garden and the farms. We allowed some groups to gather on our property and meet in the Academy to support their work for immigration, empowerment of women, and the environment.
View the video for photos of some of the highlights:
The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Opposes the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule
We, the U. S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, compelled by the Gospel and by our heritage to be responsive to the “dear neighbor” without distinction, are concerned for all of God’s creation and our sisters and brothers everywhere.
We stand with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in our deep concern about the release of the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule. The proposed rule would significantly weaken the Clean Power Plan (CPP) which sought to speed the closure of coal-burning plants and the conversion to clean energy in order to reduce carbon pollution, mitigate climate change, and protect the health and welfare of all people, especially the most vulnerable.
The 2014 CPP set flexible national standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent and premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90 percent in 2030 compared to 2005. The new Affordable Clean Energy rule allows states to decide if and how they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants, placing the health of the nation and the planet at continued risk.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s own analysis shows that under the proposed rule carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise and could lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually.
Climate is a common good given to all and for which all are responsible. Each of us is called to cooperate with God to protect our common home and to care for all of God’s creation. We believe, with Pope Francis, that all nations have “a clear, definitive, and ineluctable ethical imperative to act” to protect Earth and its people.
None more so than the United States as we, historically, have been the world’s largest carbon polluter, adding almost six billion tons of carbon dioxide every year to the atmosphere.
In his Encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis, reminds us of our biblical call to live in right relationship and to cooperate with God’s design for our world. We call on all people of good will to join us in opposing this rule that threatens the health and safety of our neighbors and our planet home. We urge all Americans to take the opportunity to register their concerns during the required comment period for the Affordable Clean Energy rule.
Every day, Americans throw out tons of single-use polystyrene foam cups and containers, what most of us call Styrofoam. This foam never fully degrades, but simply breaks down into smaller pieces and persists in our environment. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our lakes, rivers and oceans and threaten wildlife for centuries. This could all be avoided if we simply stop using so much of this harmful and unnecessary plastic foam.
By working at the state level, we can build momentum for national change. More than 200 cities and communities have already enacted bans on polystyrene foam across the country. In 2014, California passed the first statewide plastic bag ban, and by the end of this year, McDonald’s will phase out foam cups and containers.
Tell our governor to protect our waterways and wildlife by banning polystyrene foam cups and containers.