OMI logo
Translate this page:

Recent News

News Feed

News Archives

Latest Video & Audio

More video & audio >

News Archives » Sr. Maxine Pohlman SSND

Reflection on June’s Laudato Si Field Trip With OMI Novices July 8th, 2024

By Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND

One of the important themes running throughout the encyclical is interconnectedness. In paragraph 92 we read, “We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality: ‘Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes, which cannot be separated and treated individually without once again falling into reductionism. ‘”

In order to explore this theme, it seemed fitting to have a virtual visit with Seamus Finn, OMI, who has been Director of the Office of Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) for the U.S. Province for many years.

During our conversation with him, Father Seamus connected us with Oblate history that gave flesh to the JPIC Office and its many years of ministry for the US Province. He showed us how the Office works on the level where laws are made in order not only to shed the light of the Gospel on world issues, but also to have an impact!

We learned that in 1992 the phrase integrity of creation was first used in the Oblate world along with the idea of ecological vocation and the encouragement to care for the environment. From that time onward, the integrity of creation became part of OMI missionary life and ministry.

Father Seamus’ broad-ranging knowledge of finance, justice, and ecology, along with his experience of visiting many countries around the world where OMI ministers, opened our eyes to the importance of sharing oneself on many levels, networking both locally and globally.

We felt grateful to have met this Oblate who has had a positive impact on our world!

Engaged Eco-Elders at The Sarah Community June 5th, 2024

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

In September 2023, I represented La Vista Ecological Learning Center at The Sarah Community, a retirement residence in Bridgeton, Missouri. Leadership listened to residents desiring to become environmentally active, and so I was invited to share some of the activities of La Vista and how these might be carried out at their facility.

This residence is the home of several Congregations of “retired” religious women. With a little encouragement, they organized themselves into three groups and started meeting regularly. They established a recycling program, prayer opportunities, and educational programs. In May, just eight months later, I revisited them and learned of their accomplishments which are amazing. I am sharing the outstanding work of the education group which impacted the entire facility.

These five sisters from four different Congregations showed monthly films for the entire house, and often up to 40 people participated. They shared with the Activities Director that they preferred educational documentaries over entertainment videos, and they gave her well-researched suggestions. They followed each film with discussion and plans for action. Here is a sampling of their offerings.

After viewing the Eating Our Way to Extinction about plastics in our food, and Plastic People about the threat of microplastics on human health, they met with representatives from Food Service. They shared an infographic from the American Heart Association on plant-based protein sources, asking that these options be offered in the dining room, saying that they also prefer roasted food to “cremated “! They reported that they have seen more of these options since then on the menu. They also discouraged use of styrofoam and other plastics in the dining room. Food Service has also begun to listen to these requests.

The group’s next goal is to meet with representatives from Republic, the waste disposal company, to request a way to recycle the abundant cardboard that they see being used at their facility. There is no grass growing under the feet of these engaged eco-elders.

Reflecting on the accomplishments of this team, one Sister commented, “This has been a fantastic contribution to the entire residence, changing our bodies and our souls!” Amen, Sisters!!!


Nature’s Soul April 8th, 2024

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

A few weeks ago, OMI Novices and I took a field trip to Treehouse Wildlife Center where the “intrinsic value” of creatures is honored, “independent of their usefulness” as Laudato Si’ states in paragraph 140. One of the permanent residents is a turkey vulture named Einstein, later discovered to be female. She was found as a chick and raised by a family. Since Einstein was human imprinted, she coud not be released back into the wild because, seeing herself more human than vulture, she would have trouble surviving. She is a resident for life, living in a glass enclosure inside the TreeHouse Center.

This is a photo of a painting which hangs near her enclosure. It shows Einstein looking in a mirror and seeing herself human-like. The artist poignantly captured Einstein’s perspective, and the human face is haunting, so much so that I was disturbed by the image.

Upon reflection, I find the painting holds implications for us humans who also seem to have an issue with self-identity. We, too, often live in a self-constructed world and fai to see reality, having been disconnected from the natural world for so long. We feel fundamentally unrelated to sun and moon, wind, rain, birds and all the many living beings we often don’t even notice as we live our daily lives.

Richard Rohr describes our situation as having “lost our souls”, and so we cannot see soul anywhere else. He writes, “Without a visceral connection to the soul of nature, we will not know how to love or respect our own soul…While everything has a soul, in many people it seems to be dormant, disconnected, and ungrounded. They are not aware of the inherent truth, goodness, and beauty shining through everything.” Rohr believes “…we can’t access our full intelligence and wisdom without some real connection to nature.”

Maybe that is one reason our wonderful world is suffering so much at our hands and why we are suffering too. We are like the vulture whose life is limited, enclosed, and out-of-touch with the magnificence of the natural world that is now beyond her reach; however, we have a choice! We can re-claim our soul within the Great Soul that is the Mystical Body holding all.

It seems that fitting conclusion to this reflection would be to listen to Heather Houston’s “Re-Wild My Soul”.



Return to Top