American sisters tackling climate care resolve to stay the course

For decades — whether they are raising heritage chickens, running an organic farm that provides food for local residents as well as their own community, or addressing the impact of climate change here and abroad — sisters around the United States have made care of creation a priority, incorporating it not only into their prayers but into the fabric of their community strategic plans.

Now faced with the presidency of Donald Trump, who has expressed doubts about the very underpinnings of environmental activism — threatening to cut clean energy and climate-change spending and roll back protections — some sisters say they are prepared to mobilize their communities to resist.

"What we're hearing [from members] is a rising concern," said Sr. Mary Pellegrino, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the approximately 49,000 U.S. women religious. "We have seen some positive things happening to protect the climate, so we are concerned about what might happen in the future."

A Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania, Pellegrino said that LCWR will continue to advocate for care of the environment, and be available to help member congregations seeking to do the same.

It can sometimes be hard to separate issues, Pellegrino said, because so many are so closely tied together. One example: "Addressing the climate issue and using sustainable development will help address some of the underlying causes of poverty and forced migration," she said.

Now prioress of the Adrian Dominican community in Michigan, Pat Siemen is also a lawyer and founder of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Florida's Barry University, where she taught for 10 years.


Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here