Facebook IconInstagram IconSpotify

Care of Creation across the province

Statue of Francis in the Caroline Garden.Seeing ourselves as one with all of creation and attentive to the ecological crisis facing us at this time, the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) commit themselves to educate, advocate and act in collaboration with others for the dignity of life and the care of all creation. The choices made daily – in our use of natural resources, our choice for energy consumption and waste disposal, our consumer mentality that replaces rather than repairs - has marred our earth and endangered all of life. As sisters move into the future, for ourselves and for future generations, we are all called to stop, reflect, and choose wisely a lifestyle that brings healing to our earth and to all creation. The choices are not easy. They are not convenient at times, nevertheless, they are the choices we must make for the sake of all. Here are three Care of Creation initiatives sisters are actively participating in on different campuses within the Central Pacific (CP) Province.

Going Green at Notre Dame of Elm Grove

At Notre Dame of Elm Grove (NDEG) in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, going green is a way of life. While moving toward being environmental friendly is a top priority for all SSND, NDEG is constantly looking for new ways to go green. Over the past few years, NDEG has replaced paper towel dispensers in restrooms; this has reduced paper use by 40 percent. The NDEG campus has replaced the majority of the light bulbs on campus to be more energy efficient. NDEG also participates in composting fruit and vegetable waste to help enrich the soil for more produce. Another step towards going green is through the TerraCycle program, which takes non-recyclable products and recycles or upcycles them. Upcycling is reusing products to create higher quality products than the original. When asked about going green, Sister Christine Woyach says, “Many of the actions we take daily are small, but we want to be more environmentally conscious, we try to choose the most efficient or sustainable way of living.”

2018 Toyota Prius Prime pilot project at Our Lady of Good Counsel

While looking for new ways to save energy, the CP Province conducted a pilot project with a 2018 Toyota Prius Prime at the campus of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mankato, Minnesota. As the most efficient Toyota hybrid yet, Prius Prime offers the best of both worlds; electric and fuel. Typically, the Prius Prime will run on its electrical charge first. However, when the charge runs low, the Prius Prime continues to run as an efficient hybrid with an estimated 54 miles per gallon. This means the car is capable of driving roughly 610 miles on a single tank of fuel and one charge. The best part, the Prius Prime can plug into either a 220 amp or a 120-amp electrical outlet, providing the car with more plug-in feasibility when on the road.

“The Toyota Prius Prime is overall cheaper to run,” said Marty Beil, CP Province Transportation Manager. “There is less maintenance and the car emits half of the greenhouse gasses of normal cars, which means the car aligns well with the SSND care of the Earth practices. To date, the results of the project have gone very well. We have a few sisters who use the car for high-volume usage, such as when we drive from Mankato to the Twin Cities and back. Overall, the Prius Prime has saved on gas consumption and is running very well.”

Caroline Garden in St. Louis

Caroline Garden. S. Jean Greenwald is racking new flower beds.

”In March 2019, the concept of building a garden for the sisters in the infirmary at Sancta Maria in Ripa was formed. Sister Rose Rita Huelsmann and the on-staff nurse, Margie Drennan, decided that fresh air, care of creation and gardening was needed to boost cognitive stimulation and exercise. Margie wanted to make sure the sisters in the infirmary could get out and garden. She reached out to local groups such as the Missouri Botanical Garden, Gateway Greening, Rosati Kain High School, Washington University Occupational Therapy Department, and family and friends to start the Caroline Garden with raised flower beds and an 8-foot fence to keep out the local deer. Sister Rose Rita says, “Any big project around the Ripa campus gets accomplished by many people working together. That is where God resides, in the relationships. There is dignity in life when we care for God’s creation. In working with the earth, with plants, with seeds and soil we advocate for God’s creation.”

Today, the Caroline Garden is blooming. Sisters, staff, family and residents of the infirmary donated plants and seeds. The garden includes okra, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, beets, beans and so much more. While gardening and enjoying the fresh air is the main reason for the garden project, Care of Creation comes into play with food services offering fresh produce to sisters. The Caroline Garden truly represents care of creation. When asked about the garden, Margie says, “We are very proud of what the garden looks like today. It is still a work in progress, however, gardeners tell me that a garden is never finished.

Read more about SSND commitment to Care of Creation.


Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



© 2022 School Sisters of Notre Dame