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Importance of World Environment Day

Sisters offer their insights through artful expressions

Today, June 5, is World Environment Day. This special day of awareness encourages citizens of the world to consider their impact on the planet. More than 140 countries recognize the day, which calls for government, nonprofit, businesses and individuals to do their part to initiate positive change to protect our environment.

As a Laudato Si’ Congregation , School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) Central Pacific Province have committed themselves to “live more simply, responsibly and sustainably and to Educate, Advocate and Act in collaboration with others for the dignity of life and the care of all creation.” The SSND Laudato Si’ committee has worked to implement various initiatives, including recycling programs, sharing of plant-based recipes and ongoing education efforts via thoughtful articles and discussions. We have invited sisters to share their creative reflections on World Environment Day and what care of creation looks like to them. Sisters responded with a meaningful collection of essays, poems, photographs and paintings.


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By Sister Sandra Weinke

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By Sister Catherine Bertrand

I walk every day no matter where I am. It is my contemplative practice and taking pictures is a way of noticing, a way of fostering deeper consciousness and profound gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us. The first three pictures were taken in Arizona, the pussy willow was the first sign of spring in Minnesota, the daffodil which looks like blown glass was in Baltimore (after a rain and freeze), and the bleeding hearts I took here in St. Paul - first ones of the season. I take at least one photograph a day...




By Sister Dianne Engelhart

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3 Point 7 - Voyager 1
By Sister Pat Lange

On February 14, 1990, NASA scientists sent a command to Voyager 1 which had already been journeying through our solar neighborhood since 1977, sending back incredible photos of our planetary system with data it has accrued during its adventure. The command was for the spacecraft to turn itself around and take one last picture of Earth before Voyager 1 would leave our solar system, beginning its final journey into infinite interstellar space and cosmic history. It was a last wave, a final goodbye to Voyager 1’s home – Earth. When NASA developed the photo taken from 3.7 billion miles from Earth, scientists were astonished. Astonished because our home planet was a mere pixel in size, barely recognizable, the size of a point on a pin. Here was our home, our Earth, teeming with life, hanging in the darkness of space, the size of a pixel, a “pale blue dot” in the cold, cold void of space. This NASA photo is not a photo that demonstrates an insignificant Earth, but an urgent call of awakening. What a rare and precious gift to see our Earth surrounded by nothingness, a sapphire jewel suspended in the darkness of our universe. If Earth is the only planet in our universe with life as we know it, then this photo is the greatest motivator to its residents to be forever loving, responsible caretakers of this Gift of Creation.

Voyager 1 is Earth’s emissary to the heavens. Attached to the spacecraft is a gold record with stylus, protected from space by an aluminum sleeve. A quote by President Jimmy Carter inscribed on Voyager’s gold record to any future civilizations that may encounter it, sums up Voyager 1’s trek to the stars. “This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time, so we may live into yours.” This gold record attached to Voyager 1 is us, our treasure, with images of our environment, everything that makes us human. Voyager 1 will continue its journey through the cosmos for millions of years, willingly sharing its message, assuring the story of our planet and its residents for all time.

As we celebrate World Environment Day, let us remember Voyager 1, traveling across the heavens, seeing indescribable worders that can only be imagined by the human mind. Let us not forget that the “pale blue dot” so humbly revealed in a NASA photo, is our home, and that it calls to us to make our home an environment where it is protected for generations to come. The decisions and actions we take regarding the sustainability of our Earth are the seeds of the future.

We are the scribes of the future, and what we write will be a lamp post, a beacon for our descendants, generation after generation after generation.



By Sister Suzanne Moynihan


From within a billion galaxies
from within the vastness of our own
      lit by star whose brightness travels light years
      to bring forth violet blossoms
      and birds on the wing,
one robin
product of cosmic complexity
through eons of evolution
has chosen
among all the boughs
of all the world forests
to rest on this backyard willow branch
and sing its singular music.
What symphony go-er is as gifted as I?


For a long time
I was among
the trees in the almost darkness,
fellow worshipers,
rooted, as they were
to earth.

And there I stood
in their midst
another silent prayer.


A ladybug
sat placidly
on my journal cover.

In those moments
the whole Universe
present and still
was kind.

Earth Weeps: A Story
By Sister Patricia A. Obremski

“O Sun,” the Earth sighs,
“We need to talk.
I am not feeling well, and
I cannot seem to heal myself.
Are you angry with me?
New deserts have appeared
and I feel old and parched.
Is it something I have done
or not done?”

The smiling sun embraces Earth.
“No. It is not your fault.
Besides a little wabble in your spin
and an orbit not quite centered,
you are as you were created to be ─
good. However, you do
seem to be running a temperature,
and you do look a bit unkempt. Your
atmosphere looks somewhat smoggy,
and there are a lot of plastic
containers piled on your shorelines.
And I do think I heard you groan
with some internal distress
due to fracking. You appear to
weep copious tears. Then
you seem to become very frustrated,
as you swirl and storm and quake and
breathe out gale-force winds.
I knew something was not quite right.”

Earth was taken aback by
Sun’s perceptiveness. “The worst is
that my seasons seem to be shifting!
I loved to hum with my bees
during lazy summer days and trace
frost patterns in crisp winters. But
now my hives stand empty, and
frost has become blizzard or
just sterile chill. Moon still waxes
and wanes, but certain months
seem longer. And the fires…”

“Hm-m-m…” the Sun mused. “I think
you have an acute case of ‘humanitis.’

Its cause can be found in selfishness,
thoughtlessness, and something
called ‘free will,’ the ability
to make choices. You cannot cure
this disease; only your humans
can heal the wounds it makes.”

“So, what can I do to make them see
what is happening to me and to them?
I have sent urgent warnings
of change and loss. I have cried
and stormed and shown them
the dangerous changes in climate.
What more can I do before it is
too late? I really love my humans,
especially, the poor who suffer most!

Sun comforted Earth as he scanned
the debris her humans had begun
to strew in his space.
“All you can do is speak the truth.
Call out to the wise and perceptive;
whisper to those who contemplate
your mystery and beauty; converse
with the doers who have the power
to convince others to understand and act.
I, myself, will write this message
across your sky, ‘Listen
to the cry of the Earth!’”

And, indeed, this is what Sun did.
But the few humans who observed
his message were merely awed
by the complex contrails they observed.
      The End!?!

Author’s Note: How can I sit comfortably and listen to Earth suffer? I must act:
      ~Turn off unnecessary lights…
      ~Conserve water…
      ~Monitor the thermostat…
      ~Group car trips to save gas…
      ~Purchase second-hand items…
      ~Pick up other’s litter safely…
      ~Repurpose, reuse, and recycle…


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From the Garden/To the Table

By Sister Jackie Toben, gardener and Sister Janet Crane, chef



Plants help the Earth


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