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Focus Areas: Integrity of Creation
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Oblate Ecological Initiative (OEI)

The Oblate Ecological Initiative is a ministry of the US Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Oblate Ecological Initiative is based on the belief that:

Action on behalf of justice, peace and the integrity of creation is an integral part of evangelization – Oblate Rule 9A

Why do Missionary Oblates support an ecological initiative?

The Oblate commitment to care for our common home is closely intertwined with the mission to the poor, since those living in poverty are often the ones most affected by environmental crises. As Pope Francis states in Laudato Si, “I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, that everything is connected…” (16). “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (49)

Fr. Jack Lau, OMI, at a cooking workshop

Volunteers removing invasive species

Earth Literacy Program

The Oblate Ecological Initiative (OEI) was begun in 2001 as part of the ongoing effort of the Congregation to respond to a priority expressed in the Constitutions and Rules: “Action on behalf of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation is an integral part of evangelization” (1997). This priority has been re-affirmed by the 36th General Chapter in 2016: “We will participate in efforts to care for the integrity of creation in the face of environmental devastation. We will continue to strengthen our commitment to Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (J.P.I.C.)”

It is the mission of the OEI to deepen human relationship with our planet, knowing that as we care for the integrity of our planet, we are caring for all people who live here.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. (Photo courtesy of Bro. Lester Antonio Zapata Guerrero, OMI)

Three projects give flesh to this mission; namely, La Vista Ecological Learning Center, Oblate Ecological Initiative Northeast, and the Community Supported Garden at La Vista.

  • La Vista Ecological Learning Centeris located on the grounds of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. These 255 acres provide ample opportunity to connect people with land in an effort to deepen our relationship with Earth, healing the division between people and planet which has resulted in our ecological crisis and in a type of spiritual poverty. This is a key focus of the Learning Center: to help people see the Creator in all of Creation and to treat the natural world as truly sacred. The Learning Center educates Oblates and others in ecological awareness, grounded in the sacred story of creation. Educational and eco-spiritual efforts are focused in several areas: programs, workshops, study groups, speakers, seasonal celebrations, ecological restoration efforts, informational web site, semi-annual newsletter La Vista Visions and a monthly E-News
  • The Community Supported Garden at La Vista serves as a source of renewal for human, social and physical health by providing nutritious food, by the building of a diverse community, and through the practice of social justice.  We demonstrate a model for diversified, sustainable, small-scale community supported agriculture through responsible stewardship of the land and by supporting our farmer with dependable and just compensation.   We respect the soil, water and air through organic methods of growing, by conserving water and by reducing fossil fuel emissions into the air. Each year since 2003, the Garden has supplied over one hundred families with sustainably grown vegetables. In line with the Oblate mission to those living in poverty, ten per cent of the shares is reserved for those who cannot afford to pay for a full share. In addition, excess produce is donated to the Alton Crisis Food Pantry.
  • OEI NORTHEAST REGION coordinated by Fr. Norman Comtois, OMI, extends the mission of La Vista to the Northeastern part of the country where he offers retreats, workshops, study groups, spiritual direction, contemplative Eucharist, and seasonal celebrations in the Lowell, Massachusetts area. In his ministry he encourages participants to reflect on the spiritual hunger of our time, enter and experience the universe story as primary revelation, face the fundamental paradox of creation, and join in the integrity of creation. Read Norm Comtois’ bio and learn about his programs here.

Contact Information
La Vista Ecological Learning Center
4300 Levis Lane
Godfrey, IL 62035

La Vista Ecological Learning Center:
Community Supported Garden at La Vista:

Director: Maxine Pohlman, SSND
Administrative Assistant: Mary Jo Jacobs
Director, OEI Northeast: Norman Comtois, OMI
For more information:

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