No surprise: Nuns are taking the lead in putting ‘Laudato Si’’ into action

By Kathleen Bonnette
America: The Jesuit Review
July 6, 2021

In December 2019, students from the Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore joined members of the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame at a grocery store for a giveaway of reusable bags. The reusable bags were handmade by Sisters Virginia Brien and Clara Beall, aged 94 and 85. Other sisters, many long retired, attached information about plastic pollution and climate change. It was one of the many ways that the School Sisters of Notre Dame exemplify what it means to promote “the dignity of life and the care of all creation,” as their directional statement “Love Gives Everything” exhorts.

In light of this guiding principle, it is no surprise that the S.S.N.D. and other communities of women religious are among the first to make a public commitment to join the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which Pope Francis initiated in May “to help lead the world’s Catholics along a journey of intensified action in caring for creation.” Among Catholics, women religious have been leading the way on issues of environmental justice and ecological spirituality. I suspect this is because their work in the trenches of encounter offers a good vantage point for recognizing the connections between “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor,” as Francis describes in the encyclical letter “Laudato Si’’’ (No. 49).

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