News Archives » Sr. Maxine Pohlman
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.
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)
Breathing Life into Pollinator Garden @ La Vista July 25th, 2022
Master Gardener and Master Naturalist Susan Murray plus nine volunteers are in the process of renewing the La Vista Ecological Center Pollinator Garden begun in 2014. The monarda, a native plant that provides nectar for many bees, butterflies, birds, wasps, and other pollinators, is in full bloom. Our plan is to introduce more diversity so that, when the monarda has peaked, other natives will continue serving pollinators throughout the season as well as adding color and interest. This will happen over a period of years.
When some of the plants complete their blooming cycle, they die, making the garden less than attractive. However, we leave those plants because their seeds continue to serve other pollinators. In the winter they provide valuable habitat for species that overwinter here. Rather than clean them up so the garden has a tidy appearance, it is important to continue to provide for native animals.
This garden was created in response to the disappearing monarch butterfly. It, along with many other pollinators, are endangered by use of pesticides and reduction in habitat. It is also a way to give flesh to the Missionary Oblates Land Ethic statement and the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si.
Our brochure explains the pollinator garden and includes quotes from both documents. The garden is also an educational tool, modeling a way to create this kind of garden and encouraging others to replicate it in the back yards, on a smaller scale.
Download this brochure to learn more about Lavista’s Pollinator Garden.
Friends of the Oblates Preserves Receives Award @ Illinois State Fair August 25th, 2021
Illinois State Fair at a Glance:
- The Illinois State Fair is an annual 11-day festival celebrating agriculture, farmers and related industries
- First celebrated in 1853 in Chicago, IL, the fair is now in its 158th year.
- The fair has moved to Springfield, IL and is held nearly every year with few exceptions (it was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic)
- Average attendance is around half a million, climbing to nearly 1 million in 2012 and 2013 and dropping back down to about 500,000 in 2019.
- Corn-dogs-on-sticks, a popular edible treat at U.S. fairs is said to have originated at the Illinois State Fair
Yale Scholar Delivers Keynote at Day of Reflection on “Laudato SI” in Belleville Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows May 2nd, 2018
(Originally published on www.omiusa.org)
Thanks to Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director of the La Vista Ecological Learning Ctr.
On Saturday, April 21, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker gave the keynote address at a conference held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois entitled Our Sacred Earth, Our Common Home. Dr. Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. This event is the second in a series devoted to the study and implementation of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’.
According to Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director of the La Vista Ecological Learning Center which co-sponsored the event, “The participants were inspired by Dr. Tucker’s enthusiasm as she shared her appreciation of papal encyclical Laudato Si’. She helped us to wake up to its importance in the Catholic tradition of social encyclicals as well as its worldwide influence and impact beyond Catholicism. Being a leader in the emerging field of Religion and Ecology, she was able to unite the two as she led us through the content of the document.”
Throughout her presentation, Dr. Tucker praised Pope Francis for his leadership and call to action: “The spirituality of Francis in the encyclical is clear: It begins with Mother Earth, the Canticle to Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Bonaventure, you all know the mind’s path to God goes through the natural world…and so much of this is awe-evoking action…we’re looking for renewable energy, the renewal energy we’re looking for is the energy of the spirit. To renew the face of the earth. And that’s where religious communities, spiritual sensibilities and moral force will make a difference.”
After the keynote, the attendees split up for break out sessions, one by Sr. Cheryl Kemner, OSF and Nicole Heerlein of Franciscans for Earth: “The Challenge of Technology and Simple Lifestyle,” another featuring Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director of La Vista Ecological Learning Center: “Backyard Revolution,” “Care for the Earth; Care for the Poor” by Sr. Connie Probst, OSF – Co-Director, St. Anthony’s Food Pantry, and “What Can My Parish and Family Do?” by Jamie Hasemeier of Holy Redeemer Parish. In addition, Dr. Tucker held a break out session for religious sisters.
The event, which attracted about 100 people ran from 9 AM to Noon at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. The day was co-sponsored by: the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows; La Vista Ecological Learning Center; the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.