Office of Ecological Sustainability
Recognizing the interrelatedness of all creation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s mission includes a commitment “to care for Earth.” This has been a central value of the SCNs throughout our history, reflected in the many ways the SCNs care for God’s creation. We reaffirmed this commitment at our 2018 General Assembly, when we directed ourselves to “intensify our efforts across the Congregation to address the destruction of natural resources and the ecological and environmental crisis.” We invite you to join us in this commitment.
Below are some of our sustainability efforts and stories of action.
Our Office of Ecological Sustainability is guided by our mission and our congregational values. We have developed guidelines and value statements on caring for our land and the environment more broadly throughout the years. Below are a few documents that reflect our commitment to ecological sustainability.
In seeking to “be a model of sustainable and regenerative living”, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have taken the following steps:
Greenhouse Gas Emission Goal
The SCNs believe that climate change is real and one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of all life on Earth, especially those who are poor and marginalized. In order to do our part to address this threat and to limit planetary warming to 1.5°C by 2100, we pledge to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions by 2037 in the United States and Belize and by 2047 in India, Nepal, and Botswana. Below are some of the ways we are working towards this goal.
We pledge to drive fewer cars per population and increase the percentage of electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids.
We pledge to install or invest in additional solar panels to provide renewable energy.
We pledge to eat a more locally-grown, plant-based diet and grow more kitchen gardens. [link to Nazareth community garden section] [link recipe book here]
We pledge to pursue energy conservation efforts throughout our congregation.
We will examine our air travel emissions and commit funds for carbon offsets.
Stories about Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals
On the evening of Sept. 6, Nazareth Retreat Center hosted approximately 25 people who gathered to play the Plummit Summit Game in Crimmins Hall on Nazareth Campus. This “trivia night” workshop game night is designed to show how lifestyles can change and greenhouse gas emissions must plummet.
Phase III of the Crimmins Solar Array at Nazareth, KY has been installed. Solar photovoltaics support the SCNs’ mission to care for Earth and moves us closer to our goal of zero carbon emissions.
Sister Paschal and Sister Molly teach us how to grow microgreens and sprouts in a new video from the Office of Ecological Sustainability.
Eliminating single-use plastics
Plastic waste is threatening waterways, aquatic habitats, and the ecological balance of our global communities. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are doing our part to eliminate our consumption of single-use plastics through refusal to purchase plastics, reuse of materials, and the production and use of more sustainable materials.
We are eliminating plastic waste from our congregations in India.
We are eliminating single-use plastic materials on our campus at Nazareth, KY.
We are intentionally eliminating plastic waste and use from our communities in Louisville, KY.
We hope to alleviate global plastic waste by empowering communities in which we serve to reduce plastic consumption.
Stories of Eliminating Single-Use Plastics
Thanks to some strategic changes, those gathering there will no longer have to use disposable plates, utensils, glasses, or napkins.
Nazareth employees celebrated the Christmas season in the Motherhouse Dining Room using compostable plates, utensils, and cups.
Reducing our global water usage
Our world has a finite supply of freshwater, and climate change is exasperating the disparities in access to freshwater held by communities around the world. As a congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth see water as a sacred resource and are working hard to use it responsibly.
We will do this by sustainably harvesting water in many of our local communities and ministry places.
We will do this by conserving water.
We will do this by treating rain as a resource.
Stories about reducing our global water usage
A collaborative effort between the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future, and Nelson County 4-H Youth Development is empowering local youth to be citizen scientists by measuring water quality in their watershed.
The Sisters in Belize learned how to make their own chlorine.
The SCN’s mission “to care for the Earth” is making ripples in the Nelson County community with the help of Stream Team, a youth educational program co-led by Julia Gerwe and Whitney Wurzel, Executive Director of New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future, in partnership with Nelson County 4-H Youth Development.
The SCN’s Office of Ecological Sustainability partners with New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future and Nelson County 4-H to host “Stream Team”, a program educating youth about watersheds and water quality.
Managing our land to promote maximum wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration
Biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate around the world, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth understand nature as God’s handiwork bestowed upon us as stewards. We are taking an active role in supporting native habitats across our lands and supporting the biodiversity of nature.
We are transitioning agricultural fields from conventional corn and soybeans to native prairie.
We are increasing the number of native plant species in our landscaping.
We are managing our land as a habitat for native species, including federally threatened and at-risk populations.
Stories about wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration
At Nazareth, Sisters turned to the spirit as they gathered outdoors for reflection on the Season of Creation.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the Season of Creation; this year’s theme is “Listening to Creation.” Join the Office of Ecological Sustainability and Kelly O’Mahony, SCN, as we step into Nazareth’s woods to listen to and observe the creatures who come alive there each spring.
The pollinator fields at Nazareth are getting ready to burst forth into bloom, providing habitat for butterflies, birds, and insects.
Stories of Action
To celebrate 75 years in India, we will follow the journey of our Pioneer Sisters. Our story begins more than a year before the departure of our Sisters for India, with a letter written by Mother Ann Sebastian, dated May 7, 1946.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s work in ecological sustainability was featured in the July edition of the Catholic Climate Covenant’s newsletter.
This video was produced by the Earth and Spirit Center in collaboration with Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest. It is created from a series of interviews with Bernheim staff, volunteers, and community partners that took place at the Spirit Nest last fall. Susan Gatz, SCN, and Julia Gerwe speak in the video and they hope it stirs us all on to further action for the sake of our common home!
Join the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in taking action to protect God’s creation.
Resources and Community Partners
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are grateful for the following community partners and resources that enhance our mission to care for Earth and our commitment to sustainability.