In the conclusion to his encyclical Laudato Si’—On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis urges us to:
Protect the world and not prey on it,…sow beauty, not pollution and destruction,…to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature. Pope Francis
Our growing awareness of Earth’s environmental crisis—much of it the direct result of human action like clear-cutting forests and rainforests, polluting our soil, air and water, strip mining, etc.—has led FSM to focus our attention on issues of peace, justice, and ecology.
As Franciscans we are keenly aware of environmental issues. We are recycling and living more simply, finding ways to assess and reduce our carbon footprint.
We’ve also worked to bring about change on a broader playing field.
For example, the Franciscan Sisters of Mary joined with the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to contact the regional manager of QuikTrip, a fuel and convenience store with more than 700 locations in eleven states, to encourage him to bring recycling to area stores. After meeting with us, he explored options with the company. Within months, local stores switched to recyclable containers for snacks and drinks and installed recycling bins. The collaboration—and QuikTrip’s willingness to listen to our concerns—allowed us to bring about valuable change.
We’ve partnered with others who are engaged in environmental issues on the local scene. To list a few of our endeavors, we have supported
- Forest ReLeaf, a local organization that provides trees to help reforest the urban canopy as well as replace trees destroyed in natural disasters like the tornado in Joplin.
- St. Louis Earth Day, an event each spring that helps get neighbors on board with recycling. In 2013 Sr. Jeanne Meurer received a grant from St. Louis Earth Day to promote recycling at The Sarah Community, the retirement center where most FSM live.
- Rockhaven Ecozoic Center, as well as other centers that promote and teach sustainable ways of living.
- Gateway Greening, a St. Louis-based organization devoted to strengthening and empowering communities and using vacant land wisely through organic, sustainable community gardens.
- Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Just Moms STL, collaborators with FSM in promoting legislation to remove the 48,000 tons of radioactive waste illegally dumped in the West Lake Landfill 40-plus years ago. The unlined landfill poses a constant threat of contamination for air, soil, and groundwater, and an underground fire in the adjoining Bridgeton Landfill multiplies the danger.
- Double Up Food Bucks, a program of Fair Food Network that enhances low-income families’ access to fresh, locally grown produce and benefits local farmers and grocers as well.
The FSM physical footprint today is much smaller than it once was; the vast majority of our sisters live within 30 miles of our FSM offices.
But through our philanthropy and impact investing, we are extending the reach of our presence and mission.