A Different House
If you think that all the houses of the Sisters of St. Joseph are more or less the same, you've never visited a tall house in Riverdale where three Sisters live.
The house opened in August 2002, but the planning for it began quite some time before that. In 2000, a group of 10 Sisters attended a workshop on Ecological Living for the 21st Century. Sister Peggy was enthralled by what she learned and promptly decided, "We've got to do something about this — now!" Sister Mary was also enthusiastic: "I felt attracted to joining this new endeavour as an expression of my desire to be as earth friendly as possible."
Sisters Janet, Peggy and Mary worked with Sister Virginia to outline a plan for an ecologically friendly house. They drafted a vision statement stating their goal, to "develop our spirituality within the context of the new story of creation."
The practicalities they listed included:
- celebrating the seasons of the Earth as well as our traditional liturgical seasons
- taking advantage of educational opportunities for increased awareness
- shopping at farmers' markets
- choosing to conserve energy
- using earth-friendly chemicals
- preparing and eating meals with an awareness of and gratitude for the gifts of the Earth
- This last includes choosing to eat vegetarian meals and using a book of interfaith graces. Conserving energy led to an energy audit, then using Bullfrog power, a system which keeps electrical use to a minimum and feeds any excess back to the grid.
The result for the Sisters? Sr. Janet says, "It is really good to be with people who want to live the same way. We gather weekly to share how we have grown in awareness and how we have responded."
To quote once more from their vision statement, "In doing this we desire to live in a spirit of gentleness, peace and joy."
By Mary Buckley CSJ