PAX CHRISTI USA:  Working for peace with justice

APRIL 2014 -- GReen Mail

The Pax Christi USA Global Restoration Committee would like to share this information with you, our GReen mail activists.   We invite you to pray, study and act with us across the miles recognizing that a sustainable, healthy world is a more peaceful world for all creation.



Holy Week,  Triduum,   Easter,  
 Earth Day......

We come with prayer and thanksgiving
and share a Franciscan Faith Community perspective

Lord, make me

an instrument of your peace;

Where there is hatred,

let me sow love;

Where there is injury,


Where there is doubt,


Where there is despair,


Where there is darkness,


Where there is sadness,




From the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi








The quote above by Peter Senge tells us that sustainability, while encompassing hard work and difficult decisions at times, is really about LIFE and fostering life now and into the future. I was reminded of this when a guest touring my Franciscan community's new infirmary, Clare House, remarked to me how other such buildings seem to focus only on waiting for death, and what he was experiencing in Clare House was an energy and life that was palpable. While we can rightly be proud of all the physical sustainability features of our new building - such as daylight harvesting and geothermal heating/cooling which will save natural resources and our pocketbook - that is just the building. Anyone can add "green" features. In true sustainability, the building itself -the way it is planned for, constructed and cared for- helps to FOSTER the LIFE of those who inhabit it. These intangibles of sustainability relate to the social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of who we are as people, as a community. They make life vibrant and viable for us. So vibrant in fact that many people touring the building at our Open House could sense that vibrancy even before any of our sisters moved in!


Our Franciscan community has been involved in "Care of the Earth" initiatives for many years now.

  • We approached the City Council inviting dialogue about humanely balancing the deer population in urban areas - indeed a controversial question at the time.
  • We conducted an environmental audit and began implementing some of its recommendations.
  • We've studied the Earth Charter to see how our Franciscan values connect with its principles and endorsed it, inviting others to do so as well.
  • We have turned our "back 40" acres, once rented out to a farmer, into a prairie restoration project and have delighted in the wildlife this restored habitat now supports and the many opportunities for contemplation it offers.
  • We've called ourselves and others to study justice issues through the lens of Sister Water, and from this study and reflection, launched the Sister Water Project in 2006. Our humble goal was to raise $40,000 for clean water projects and we just passed the half-million mark this past March! The Sister Water project has touched hearts and lives around the world, providing clean water to thousands of people in over 30 villages in Tanzania and several rural villages in Honduras.
  • Our Mission Statement reads: Rooted in the Gospel and in the spirit of Francis and Clare, the Srs. of St. Francis live in right relationship with all creation. And in our last Chapter wanted to more fully integrate this into our lives, so we committed ourselves to ongoing conversion as we:

o        Deepen our relationship with Mother Earth and Sister Water;

o        Stand with persons who are poor; and

o        Make peace and practice non-violence.


In assessing our buildings and our future needs, we decided to build a new infirmary that qualifies for LEED certification, and to deconstruct the old one, re-purposing as much of that material as possible. We also deconstructed another of our buildings, no longer needed and unsuitable for other purposes.

  • We created and used reflection materials, and shared them with others, for a Lenten Fast from Plastic Bags.
  • Two sisters have pursued degrees in sustainability and/or earth literacy and many more are becoming steeped in the new (which is really old) cosmology.
  • We've offered some of our grounds for community garden plots and we still grow many vegetables, fruits and flowers for our own use on our property.
  • We work in collaboration with other women's religious communities in the area on ecological issues, forming the Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth. This group is currently working on a reflection booklet for faith communities to address Sustainable Consumption.


This ongoing dialogue among us and with others about what the land will allow, between needs and limits ("downsizing" is now firmly established in our vocabulary!), beauty and practicality, the past, present and the future, has been a remarkable journey so far. We've created a truly holy and sustainable space for us in Clare House, a place that nurtures our communal life and what is most important to us.  I am reminded of another quote, by James Wilsdon: 


 "The closer we get to a virtuous circle, in which our work, our home life, our ethics and our spirituality are mutually reinforcing, the closer we will be to achieving genuine sustainability." 


 In our new Clare House and in all our efforts to integrate a reverence and care for all God's creation into every aspect of our lives, we have come closest to creating that virtuous circle.


There is still much more of the journey ahead of us. Changing our own hearts and minds in how we understand the universe and our proper place in it has been the initial steps on this journey. These steps led to actions, some small, some large, in the work of global restoration. 

We keep extending the invitation to others to join us on this crucial journey.


Here is one last quote by Buckminster Fuller, futurist and global thinker that helps illuminate the shift in mindset the world needs to make in order to be more sustainable: 


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." 




Too often when we hear the word 'house' we only think of a physical building and its rooms. But what if we began to think of Earth as our house - with various rooms - what would we need to do to make this 'house' a true 'home?' 


 The Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth have prepared a reflection booklet on the various rooms of a house, placing each room and its activities into the broader context of our Earth-home. Simple actions for families are suggested for living more sustainably and walking more gently on Earth. Earth as Our Home is available for free by  clicking here.


Sr. Michelle Balek was previously on the staff of Pax Christi USA in our Development Department.  While she was with us, she also wrote our beautiful Prayer for Global Restoration.  We invite you consider sharing this prayer far and wide as we seek to be good stewards of God's creation.  Click here for more information or to place an order. 


In Christ's peace,


Pax Christi USA's Global Restoration/Care for Creation Committee expresses our gratitude to Sr. Michelle Balek, OSF for sharing this information with us.

Fostering a reverence for all creation

Think Green - don't print this email unless you really need to and then try to print it on recycled paper.
Join our GReen Mail activist network by clicking here - follow the path to our email network offerings and select our GReen Mail (Global Restoration/Care for Creation advocacy network)