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.

Value Statements

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.

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We pledge to drive fewer cars per population and increase the percentage of electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids.

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We pledge to install or invest in additional solar panels to provide renewable energy.

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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]

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We pledge to pursue energy conservation efforts throughout our congregation.

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We will examine our air travel emissions and commit funds for carbon offsets.

Stories about Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals

Microgreens & Sprouts Video

Microgreens & Sprouts Video

Sister Paschal and Sister Molly teach us how to grow microgreens and sprouts in a new video from the Office of Ecological Sustainability.

Environmental Impact of One’s Diet

Environmental Impact of One’s Diet

Join the Office of Ecological Sustainability in learning about the environmental impact of our diets as Nazareth’s Julia Gerwe “journeys” around the Congregation to calculate the emissions behind a plate of food in India, Belize, Botswana, and the United States.

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.

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We are eliminating plastic waste from our congregations in India.

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We are eliminating single-use plastic materials on our campus at Nazareth, KY.

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We are intentionally eliminating plastic waste and use from our communities in Louisville, KY.

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We hope to alleviate global plastic waste by empowering communities in which we serve to reduce plastic consumption.

Stories of Eliminating Single-Use Plastics

Composting Christmas cleanup

Composting Christmas cleanup

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.

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We will do this by sustainably harvesting water in many of our local communities and ministry places.

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We will do this by conserving water.

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We will do this by treating rain as a resource.

Stories about reducing our global water usage

Stream Team Inspires Citizen Science at Nazareth

Stream Team Inspires Citizen Science at Nazareth

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.

Clean water

Clean water

The Sisters in Belize learned how to make their own chlorine.

Stream Team sees Sisters’ legacy ripple

Stream Team sees Sisters’ legacy ripple

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.

Nazareth to host Stream Team

Nazareth to host Stream Team

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.

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We are transitioning agricultural fields from conventional corn and soybeans to native prairie.

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We are increasing the number of native plant species in our landscaping.

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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

Earth Day Cleanup at Nazareth

Earth Day Cleanup at Nazareth

Join the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s Office of Ecological Sustainability for an Earth Day Cleanup this Earth Day: Friday, April 22, 2022 from 9:00-11:00 am at Nazareth.

Invasive species removal workday at Nazareth

Invasive species removal workday at Nazareth

The SCN Office of Ecological Sustainability hosted an invasive species removal workday at Nazareth on Jan 24, 2022 in conjunction with the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Master Naturalist Program.

Stories of Action

Grounded | Sharing Stories on Nature

Grounded | Sharing Stories on Nature

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!

Take Action

Join the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in taking action to protect God’s creation.

The SCN Care for our Common Home program provides specific ways individuals and organizations can live more sustainably. Click to learn more.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals provide a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Click to learn more.

Advocacy from our Office of Social and Environmental Justice – Click to learn more.

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.

Tarumitra: Friends of the Trees, is a nationwide students’ organization to promote ecological sensitivity in India.

New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future is a community non-profit organization that promotes sustainable thinking and sustainable development.

Explore the National Wildlife Foundation’s Native Plant Finder to supplement your own landscaping.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is a private land sanctuary with over 16,137 acres of land near Nazareth, KY.

Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, a “community of congregations, faith-based organizations, and individuals of faith responding to climate change”.

Pray this ecological examen offered by the Order of the Jesuits and the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

Reference progress that religious communities of women have been making toward the Sustainable Development Goals through the Global Sisters Report.

“Laudato Si” is an encyclical written by Pope Francis surrounding “care for our common home”.

“Sacred Lands, a collaborative video about Catholic Sisters’ spiritual relationship with the land.


The Catholic Climate Covenant is a non-profit organization formed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is a collaboration among the faithful to respond to the contemporary ecological crisis.

Watch this recorded Butterfly Garden Workshop, hosted by our office and featuring local experts on native plants and pollinators, to learn how to plant your own butterfly garden.