Caring for Earth, Caring for You Reflections

March 8-14

As part of Catholic Sisters Week 2022, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) Region IV issued a Care for Earth challenge in the spirit of Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', to draw focus to Caring for Earth initiatives.

The HMs have been committed to caring for Earth since their founding in France in 1854. An ever-present theme has been a commitment to an HM heritage of care for the whole Earth Community.

Join us this week as we bring awareness to some of the Laudato Si' Action Platform goals and what the Sisters of the Humility of Mary are doing to address those goals with special reflections contributed by members of the HM Laudato Si’ and HM Land Committees. We will be collecting these reflections here as well as posting them on our social media.

March 14

Cry of the Earth

Caring for Earth, Caring for You
Prayer Service Honoring Water
Provided by Co-Chairs of Villa Maria Land Committee

As Catholic Sisters Week wraps up today, we join our voices in prayer with others who are gathered around bodies of water—to give thinks for the gifts God has given us.

Pray with us from wherever you are today at 1:00 p.m.—the beginning of the public witness gathering at Alleghany Landing at the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. The Villa Maria Land Committee has put together a prayer service honoring water that is available here if you would like to join your voice with ours.


March 13


Cry of the Poor
Provided by Sr. Mary Slattery

“. . . promote and strengthen self-sufficiency of individuals and families. . .”

Humility of Mary Housing has been supporting individuals and families of Northeast Ohio for about 35 years. These words from the HMHI Mission Statement have guided my ministry of service to low-income seniors. In my role as Senior Care Coordinator, I assist independent-living residents as they navigate their changing needs as they age. Connecting them with supportive services and engaging them in creative programming enables them to “age in place” well.

The most basic human need for social connection, for love and belonging is necessary for living and aging well. Creating programs to promote social interaction is a large part of my ministry. The isolation that the pandemic called for has been difficult for everyone, but particularly for seniors who were most vulnerable to the virus. Now that restrictions are beginning to be lifted, residents are eager to be able to gather again.

We are being called to respond to the cry of the poor in our midst. In our often-hectic lives, we may not notice the needs of our neighbors. In Pope Francis’ words: “Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain proper relationships with my neighbor, for whose custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and the earth. . .”  Laudato Si, para. 47

How might I respond to the cries of the poor in my midst? A contribution of time or money to local agencies who serve people who are poor—a food bank, soup kitchen, outreach center or homeless shelter, perhaps. Reach out to elderly neighbors—offer assistance with errands, or simply offer a smile or an ear to listen.

March 12

Ecological Spirituality
Provided by Sr. Barbara O’Donnell

Spirituality, as the living out of theology, is affirmed in our relationship with our Creator God and all that exists through a sacred evolutionary process. Our foundation in France included a garden devoted to Mary. In her spirit of humility, HM Sisters appreciate God’s natural gifts of Earth. In gratitude, we accept responsibility to care for the health of Earth which sustains us. Villa Maria Farm continues to share a portion of our yield with those who are poor. Our Land Ethic has words of right relationship with Earth, yet the land speaks for itself and welcomes all who come and are open to the voices of beauty and diversity in creation. Moments of contemplation may lead to a conversion of the heart—an ecological conversion —realizing our deep connections with all life communities and the mystery of our expanding cosmos. How true that our ecological crisis really is spiritual crisis.


March 11

Cry of the Earth
Provided by Sr. Janet Burkhart
Photo by Eileen Mohr, HM Covenant Companion

In the words of our former farmer, biblical theology dictates that we must fulfill the laws of partnership (allowing the natural cycles of crops to take place – birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay so that plants return to soil naturally); redistribution (for Sabbath mow green growth in late August and let it decompose); and fallowing of land (till land and plant a cover crop to grow, then till that cover crop into soil the following year for soil enrichment). We care for our land in these ways, and as we have mentioned earlier, our produce is organic. Our present farmer continues that tradition of knowing that there is a fundamental relationship with land and all who dwell upon it.

Another way in which we choose to be in relationship with our land, is having an Audubon Sanctuary for Birds [and other animals, trees, and living beings]. The sanctuary is part of our sacred wetlands area, (Wetlands are ‘kidneys’ of Earth).

All of these ways of acknowledging and reverencing our sacred land allows a great biodiversity of living beings, including rare ones, to dwell here.

What can we each do? Get to know land near you. An indigenous woman once told me that if we want to know about their Native American nation, “Look at our Land”. And beyond looking, use all of your senses, and include any emotions, intuitions and feelings of awe and wonder.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer (Citizen Potawatomi) in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, asks: “What does Earth ask of us?” to which she answers: “Reciprocity. To meet our responsibilities of caring for Earth, and to give our gifts and our thanks.“


March 10

Ecological Spirituality
Provided by Sr. Mary Pat Cook

EARTH, our common home, has been calling us to care in many voices  …
from Ukraine and Moscow, from the Amazon and the Arctic…
from the depths of the ocean and the heights of the mountains…
Indigenous peoples, hungry children, international leaders …
Are we … Am I … paying attention?                    

“The external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast. For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion.” (Pope Francis)

The ecological conversion of which Pope Francis speaks is rooted in the contemplation which our HM Litany of Hope and Promise calls us to embrace. In silence we seek to see as God sees and to hear as God hears. We take time to pay attention to the “whole Earth community” – and we open ourselves to astonishment at the sacred GIFT that is ours together, to the connectedness of ALL creation.

In that self-opening, we recognize that the actions of each of us have an impact on that whole Earth community. We hear the call to respond, to act, to care for our common home.

To what am I called as we listen to the cries of Earth? A simpler lifestyle? A letter of advocacy to a legislator? A renewed commitment to recycling? A sharing in prayer for the needs of those impacted by climate change? I can make a difference…WE can make a difference!


March 9


Cry of the Earth
Provided by Sr. Sharon Cahill

We acknowledge our need for on-going assessment of our attitudes and actions toward conservation and sustainable living.

These challenging words can be found in our HM Land Ethic. They invite us to consider how we live in relation to the earth and to all of God’s creatures – in water, on land, and in sky. One action step we as a community have taken is the care for the earth by choosing not to use pesticides on our crops or in the fields. Through this choice for organic agriculture, we provide healthy food for ourselves, and healthy soil for the earth. This form of sustainability for healthy land is an active and ongoing commitment. What can you do in your own space at home?

Perhaps consider what chemicals you are using on your lawns or in your small gardens. Ask yourself: Are they harmful? Do they injure smaller animals? Then consider what you can do that will give more life to your grass or to your garden! Research “how to keep your soil healthy.”  Be amazed at the many ways to make your green space more sustainable and alive!

March 8

Cry of the Earth
Provided by Sr. Barbara Wincik

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it. Whatever we
do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are
bound together … all things connect. - Native American Chief Seattle

In 2009, the Land Ethic and Principles of Sustainability of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary became a reality. The foundation of this document was grounded in the mission, the charism, scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and contemporary theology and spirituality. The importance of the interconnection (integral ecology) of all life communities challenges all of us to examine how we live in a consumer oriented and a country of plenty/excess. Thus how do we reverence and not exploit our natural resources so future generations can be gifted with the natural gifts that we enjoy?

Some actions we have taken to hearing the cry of the earth include, reminders to staff, senior housing residents and of course ourselves to conserve water. Reporting leaking faucets. Take 5 minute or less showers. Globally, locally and nationally, be aware of those who do not have access to clean water. (183) One more action is seeking and obtaining organic certification for our produce gardens and field crops. This move stresses the importance of healthy ecosystems and growing healthy produce.