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Reflection on May’s Laudato Si Field Trip June 14th, 2024

Contributed by Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director, La Vista Ecological Learning Center

Advocacy was our theme in May, and so the OMI Novices and I, representing La Vista Ecological LearningGreen drawing of tree and shrub Center, traveled to our local Sierra Club Office where we met with Virginia Woulfe Beile, Co-director of the Three Rivers Project.

Virginia shared a guide their members use called the Jemez Principles. It occurred to us that any faith leader could also take these admonitions to heart:

–      Be inclusive

–      Emphasis on bottom-up organizing

–      Let people speak for themselves

–      Work together in solidarity and mutuality

–      Build just relationships among ourselves

–      Commit to self-transformation

Next, we enjoyed a Zoom session back at the Novitiate with Father Daniel LeBlanc, OMI, another advocacy hero! Father Dan has been a non-governmental (NGO) representative at the United Nations in New York for OMI and VIVAT International for twenty years.

Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, OMI US Province, Representative to United Nations

When asked what was challenging about his work with the UN, Father Dan offered this sage advice: you need patience to do this work because it takes many years to accomplish change at the UN. In response to a question about how to prepare for a ministry like his, he encouraged the novices to broaden their education, learning all they could! He is an example of this, for he speaks 6 languages and studied law while pastor of a parish of 130,000 in Peru.

To say we were inspired by his life and advocacy work as an OMI is an understatement. We all felt gratitude for our conversation with this remarkable Oblate!







2024 February Field Trip Reflection March 7th, 2024

Contributed by Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director, La Vista Ecological Learning Center

In February the OMI novices’ field trip focused on the intrinsic value and rights of non-human creatures as expressed in the papal encyclical Laudato Si, “Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes…”(69)

We visited TreeHouse Wildlife Center in Dow, Illinois. The Center’s mission reflects the belief that animals have a value of their own, apart from their usefulness. Accepting and caring for injured wildlife of all kinds, the Center is dedicated to rehabilitation and release back into the wild. If that is impossible, then the staff cares for the injured animal for the rest of its life!

When we arrived, we met Carrie and her favorite resident, an injured kestrel, pictured here. As soon as Carrie entered the room the kestrel raised a ruckus, obviously having a relationship with her. The delight on her face and the way she spoke showed respect for this ordinary bird which will be cared for until the end of its days.

At left the novices are intrigued by a small, deformed owl which was brought to the Center by someone who had it as a pet. He fed the owl only ground meat, thinking he was treating it well; however, the nutrition it needed for healthy bones was missing, and it got rickets. That little owl has become a friend to all who meet “Owlbert”! Laudato Si reminds us that “This contemplation of creation allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us, since ‘for the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message…’”(85). So, when we returned from our visit we shared the unique message each one heard. What was common was the gratitude we felt for this opportunity to be close to wildlife that could have been cast aside, but instead was valued and given a chance to continue living in “our common home”.


2021 Eco-living Tips August 6th, 2021

Small changes go a long way in the quest to live more sustainably. You can start with a handful of changes in your everyday life. To help you on this journey, we have created two brochures: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. and Choosing Earth-Friendly Products. The brochures are packed with manageable tips to act on and guidance for adding environmentally friendly products to your daily life. 

Our new brochures are available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded below.


Download the brochures in English & Spanish

Download for printing:

  • 2021 Reduce Reuse Recycle (English) – DOWNLOAD
  • 2021 Reduce Reuse Recycle (Spanish) – DOWNLOAD
  • 2021 Eco -friendly Tips (English) – DOWNLOAD
  • 2021 Eco -friendly Tips (Spanish) – DOWNLOAD



U.S Oblate Novices Support Garden Fundraiser & Concert at La Vista July 18th, 2017

 Pictures from the 2017 Pollinator Garden Fundraiser/Concert, Godfrey, IL
(Courtesy of Fr. Jack Lau, OMI)

La Vista is a part of Oblate Ecological Initiative, a ministry of the US Oblates Province efforts on priority for the Integrity of Creation.

The pollinator garden is one of three restoration projects of La Vista. It aims to offset threats to the monarch butterfly migration, assure a diverse food source throughout the season, and provide herbicide-free nectar for a variety of pollinators.

The pollinator garden was created in 2014 in response to threats to the monarch butterfly migration and bee colony collapse. Volunteers weeded and seeded a 6,000 square foot area.  An Eagle Scout troop made four benches for the garden.  The garden continues to be developed each year.

Since pollinators are responsible for every third bite of food we eat, and because their disappearance creates a hole in the ecosystem, we consider this effort important in contributing to the integrity of creation. 

Monarch butterflies are migrants traveling from the North to Mexico and back yearly.

Read more about the work of the Oblate Ecological Initiative at

Virtual Tour of the Community Supported Garden at LaVista June 17th, 2011

Watch this virtual field trip to the Oblate-sponsored Community Supported Gardens at LaVista, near Alton Illinois, located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. LaVista is a CSA/organic farm, offering weekly fresh vegetable shares. The video was created by Green Spiral Tours.

Learn more at LaVista CSA

For the Oblate-sponsored LaVista Ecological Learning Center, go to


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