Long before encyclical, women religious focused on the environment

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July 8, 2015

A butterfly gathers nectar on bee balm on a natural area of the property of the Dominican sisters of Adrian, Michigan, June 30. The congregation has part of their land in permaculture, allowing plants, animals and insects to co-exist in a natural ecosystem. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski) See DOMINICANS-GROW and RELIGIOUS-ENVIRONMENT July 8, 2015.

A butterfly gathers nectar on bee balm on a natural area of the property of the Dominican sisters of Adrian, Michigan, June 30. The congregation has part of their land in permaculture, allowing plants, animals and insects to co-exist in a natural ecosystem. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Long before Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si'” that ties care for earth with care for humanity was promulgated, congregations of women religious were stepping out to protect creation.

Inspired by the call of the Second Vatican Council to engage the world and biblical passages on the beauty of God’s world, members of religious congregations began considering as early as the 1970s how human life affected the planet and set out on a path that included education and practical actions with the goal of connecting more deeply with the natural world.

From opening small-scale environmental centers to a summer program teaching kids to build an alternative energy system that uses a bike to charge a cellphone, women religious are charting a new path to the future, one based, they say, on a spiritual connection with creation.

Read more in The Visitor…