La Vista Ecological Learning Center’s Outreach Ministry
October 5th, 2022
By Maxine Pohlman, SSND
As part of the outreach ministry of La Vista Ecological Learning Center, I recently offered a four-day retreat to the retired School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) at the Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Missouri. The theme for the retreat was Laudato Si and SSND, during which I explored with the Sisters how our SSND charism aligns with and is challenged by Pope Francis’ encyclical. The hope for the retreat was that Sisters would learn more about the urgency of the ecological crisis along with ways to be more integral to the solution than the cause.
Each day I addressed one concept from the encyclical, showing how Pope Francis’s words revealed new ways to live and express SSND’s charism of unity. Themes included universal communion, ecological spirituality, ecological conversion, and ecological education. Along with the morning presentation, each Sister received a handout with quotes from the SSND Constitution, Laudato Si, and a prayer experience that gave flesh to the theme of the day. The retreat had a unique hybrid form, offering morning presentations and the option of individual direction in the afternoon with SSND spiritual companions.
Not wanting to overly burden the Sisters with facts about our crisis, I embraced Pope Francis’ attitude and ended each morning with one of my favorite quotes:
Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope. (244)