According to the official Catholic Sisters Week website, this week, “shines a light on the spirituality, mission, and community building of women religious.” As a reflection and a time to honor their work, Catholic Sisters week encourages individuals, groups, parishes, schools and communities to spread and support the word of Jesus as exemplified by Catholic Sisters. This year's week-long event was held from March 8-14, 2022.
The theme for this year’s event was “Caring for Earth, Caring for You,” meant to highlight the ways Catholic Sisters care for their communities as well as their dedication to sustainability. The theme stems from the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, created by Pope Francis, to encourage institutions, families and communities to care for each other, but also the home we all share. As climate change and its effects become more apparent, this initiative calls all who practice the Catholic faith to action in building more sustainable communities.
According to the official website, Laudato Si’ was created as a collaboration between the Vatican, an international coalition of Catholic organizations, and “all men and women of good will.” The website reads:
"Action is urgently needed. Our Creator called the human family to be the steward of creation, but we have neglected that call. Our hotter, dirtier, deader planet is driving up the risk of suffering. The most vulnerable suffer above all. At this kairos moment, we are responding to the call for healing in our relationships with God, our neighbors, and the Earth itself. Through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, we are walking the 'path to renewal' together (LS 202)."
On the Laudato Si’ website you can find information about goals, action plans and ideas on how to carry out the important, urgent task of taking care of our earth.
It is important to note that sustainability is also a top priority of the United Nations, as highlighted in its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals were created in 2015 as an urgent call to action from the UN to create peace and prosperity across the world. Some SDGs that focus specifically on caring for our earth include building sustainable communities, taking care of life forms on land and in water, and taking urgent action to address climate change.
ASEC was grateful for the week-long opportunity to highlight and thank our Catholic Sisters, many who are carrying out missions directly related to sustainability in Africa. We are appreciative of the goals and projects set forth by Pope Francis and the United Nations alike to positively impact the globe and motivate organizations to care for the earth.
For example, a recent project carried out by Sr. Teresa Mulenga, who is a member of Sisters of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (Teresian Sisters) and ASEC Coordinator for Malawi, featured her training communities to use a common “waste” product - maize stalk - as a cooking fuel and a fertilizer. The influence of her training has reached eight dioceses in Malawi, eleven parishes, 300 community members, 250 sisters and 10 priests. Think of the impact!
Another ASEC Sister, Sr. Veronica Nyambe, HBVM, started an organic farming project in Zambia. Through her experiences she has learned that sustainability is more than just caring for the environment. She has recognized that organic farming also creates income for local communities. She explains,
"I want to start some bigger projects in order to empower women in our locality who have no source of income."
A simple search for “sustainability” on our website will bring up many different articles of ASEC Sisters who show they are dedicated to caring both for us and the earth. Over the past week, we have released content to show our gratitude to the Catholic Sisters and their hard work. On Instagram and Facebook we released videos, slide presentations, and more to show our sisters we appreciate the work they do.
We invite you to take a moment to reflect on how the Catholic Sisters in your life have taken steps to care for you as well as the environment. The ASEC family has been excited to have the opportunity to express gratitude to the sisters that carry out our mission daily.