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Earth as home

Sister Joan Matthews connects with creation by picking flowers in the gardens at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Joan Matthews connects with creation by picking flowers in the gardens at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

(This article was originally published in the Summer 2013 edition of HOPE.)

If you spend any amount of time with a Sister of Providence or a group of sisters, you will quickly learn that taking care of Earth as home is important to them as a Congregation.

You’ll hear them use terms like “enoughness” and talk about the interconnectedness of all creation, Earth Charter and National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

One of the most obvious ways they invite others to join with them in moving toward their goal of providing hope and healing for Earth is participating in their ministry, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC), at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

WVC is a place where Earth is honored, animals are respected, natural garden items are offered to the local community and education and sharing knowledge is valued.

All ages explore WVC through tours; retreats; individualized sabbatical, internship and volunteer programs; annual events like an Earth Day festival and alpaca farm open house; and regular workshops and programs like a Cosmic Walk, Fiber Frolic, Alpacas 101, Traditional Herbalism and a children’s summer day camp.

WVC staff members manage the 320 acres of Classified Forest, 343 acres of Indiana certified organic cropland and nature trails owned by the Sisters of Providence.

All of this provides the perfect outdoor classroom.

Other major SP steps toward living more sustainably

  • In 2012, the Sisters of Providence adopted a Land Ethic that guides their decisions in the care and use of resources.
  • Two hermitages built using recycled materials and a straw-bale hermitage are available for retreats at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
  • An industrial-size recycling program has been going strong for many years.

About the author: Cheryl Casselman has served as marketing manager for the Sisters of Providence and White Violet Center for Eco-Justice since 1997. She appreciates having a front seat to all the ways the sisters try to live sustainably and loves her role in sharing their stories with others.

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Cheryl Casselman

Cheryl Casselman worked as a marketing manager for the Sisters of Providence for twenty years. She grew up in Camby, Indiana and now lives in Sullivan County, Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Indiana State University and master's degree in Leadership Development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

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