Laudato Si’ and Community Resilience & Empowerment
By Sister Judith Herold
Goal 7 of Laudato Si’—Community Resilience & Empowerment—emphasizes community involvement and action aimed at caring for our common home. It asks each of us to organize and activate our communities to work toward solutions to the ecological crisis we all face. This goal reminds us that, although our responsibilities as stewards of the earth can feel overwhelming, our ability to rely on one another for support allows us to continue moving forward in strength.
Sisters living in The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Missouri, have taken our responsibility as a Laudato Si’ community to heart, introducing initiatives designed to promote prayer, education, and action around the care for creation.
In May 2023, Sister Connie Schmit shared the film The Letter, inspired by Pope Francis and his cry to care for our common home. Those who wanted to explore further met in early June. Sister Connie invited Sister Maxine Pohlman, SSND, coordinator of the Ecological Center in Godfrey, Illinois, to join us. Fifteen sisters representing six different communities attended. After input from Maxine, the sisters were invited to organize themselves into one of three groups: Prayer, Education, and Action. From there, our efforts blossomed into some marvelous large and small groups—all working together to empower and inspire one another to do our part.
The prayer group creates intercessions that remind us of various aspects of Laudato Si.’ Recently, we have been honoring the Season of Creation, with prayers that the prayer group has been providing to us. It helps center us and raise awareness within ourselves about Laudato Si’. The prayer group provides opportunities to pray individually, liturgically, and communally to remember God’s creation.
The education group raises consciousness of our oneness with all creation and the great need to work in ways to save our planet. A once-a-month ecological movie with discussion is open to everyone in The Sarah Community, allowing us to continue learning and sharing.
Each Wednesday, Sister Lorraine Soukup turns her bedroom into a recycling office. Sisters and lay people are encouraged to put their paper and cardboard in bags on their doors for a 9:30am pick up by team members. The items are brought to Sister Lorraine’s “office” where they are sorted and bagged. Sister Betty Meyers delivers the items to a center for recycling.
In these ways, members of The Sarah Community have encouraged one another to participate in the work of Laudato Si’. As we go about our efforts to respond to the cries of the earth, let us all remember the value of joining hands with those around us. Together we are empowered.