Volunteer Gratitude Luncheon at La Vista
January 4th, 2023
Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director, La Vista Ecological Learning Center
Throughout each year groups of volunteers come from far and near to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, IL, to spend themselves caring for the land by removing invasive trees, vines, and bushes; conducting prescribed burns; removing trash after flooding; restoring the Pollinator Garden to health; and caring for the renovated Lodge.
After our usual December workday, volunteers were invited to gather the Novitiate for lunch so I could express gratitude for their generosity. As it turned out, much more happened during our time together. Since there are four groups who work at various times, we found this an opportunity to meet one another on a deeper level. As participants introduced themselves and their interests in the field of ecological restoration, we were all enriched and amazed at the varied talents and areas of expertise among the group. Young and old felt encouraged by belonging to this unique blend of generous volunteers.
As I reflected on the experience, I realized that even more was happening: volunteers were giving flesh to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si by “caring for our common home”, as well as to the Oblates’ Land Ethic by valuing the land known as La Vista.