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No more testing, no drilling on sisters’ land

Sister Denise Wilkinson
Sister Denise Wilkinson

After several months of seismic testing on the property at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., officials with Indiana oil co-op CountryMark informed the Sisters of Providence there was oil on their property.

However, the deposit, according to officials, was not enough to warrant more testing or drilling on the sisters’ land.

According to General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson, the final results were bittersweet.

“We may be the only people they have dealt with that said we were relieved,” Sister Denise said.

Sister Denise admitted the decision to allow CountryMark to conduct testing on the sisters’ land was difficult, adding the General Council was reluctant to do so, and that several sisters disagreed with the decision.

“We acknowledged that assisting in the depletion of fossil fuels is a conflict of values for us,” Sister Denise said in October 2013. “Our White Violet Center for Eco-Justice works diligently to educate for and model sustainable use of all creation’s resources and to actively lobby for the same in state and federal legislatures.

“We, sisters, also have embraced the values and practices of sustainable living and adopted a Land Ethic policy in June 2012.”

However, a new possible revenue stream would be helpful, she said.

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods are a Congregation of just more than 320 sisters with a median age of 78.

Sister Denise said providing for all the members, having the opportunity to continue all ministries and being true to stated values are vital for the Sisters of Providence.

“Real-life decisions are difficult,” she said. “The biggest expense we have is for the care of our elder sisters. There are fewer of us ministering. The search for other incomes becomes important.

“The Congregation needs income. But when further exploration or drilling didn’t come to pass, we were mighty relieved.”

Despite the findings, Sister Denise said the Congregation will continue a study of its buildings and lands in order to possibly find ways of generating more income for the sisters. She added congregations worldwide are facing the same dilemma. Some have elected to discontinue, something Sister Denise said the Sisters of Providence will not do.

“We, as a Congregation, made the choice that we want to continue,” she said. “We will keep looking for operating income that will allow us to keep ministering.”

About the Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

Media contact

For inquiries or information, contact Jason Moon at jmoon@spsmw.org or 812-535-2810.

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