gaiaSisters and associates of the Federation have been invited to share what our communities have been doing to put into action the challenges of Laudato Si, to study and share the encyclical and to promote actions into the future.  By sharing how we have been listening to the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS49) we hope to keep the spirit of Laudato Si alive and to encourage one another in the living of it!  This month’s article is featuring the “Sisters of St. Joseph Earth Center” a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and offering resources for Laudato Si Week from June 12-19th.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center

The Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center fosters opportunities to educate, practice and celebrate the truth that all is sacred. By integrating artistic expression with holistic spirituality, the Center, in cooperation with community organizations, models ways of living in harmony with all creation. Mary Elizabeth Clark, S.S.J., a Sister of Saint Joseph, Philadelphia, has been director for the past eight years. She has collaborated with Chestnut Hill College in initiating a certificate program in Spirituality and Sustainability in both the Undergraduate and Graduate Schools of the College. She also serves as an Ambassador for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Covenant. The building is a renovated chapel with geothermal heating and cooling. Water flows through the columns into a cistern underground to help with storm water runoff. A Storm water garden helps with the runoff outside.earthcenter

As part of the Earth’s Center efforts to spread the message of Laudato Si, Sr. Mary Elizabeth is coordinating a special Mass celebrating this landmark encyclical at St. Vincent’s in Germantown, PA. The Mass will be celebrated on Father’s Day  and will feature prayers for Earth as well as the Earth Ball from the Center. The participants will also have the opportunity to sign the St. Francis Pledge. (Click here to learn more and sign the pledge)

When asked what prompted the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia to begin the Earth Center, Sr. Mary Elizabeth responded, “At the Chapter of 2004 we had a grassroots group of SSJ and Associates who asked for a building that had been one of our academies to be used for an Earth Center. The artists also asked for it at the same time. So the answer was to call it Cecilian Center for Earth, Arts and Spirit. In four years that building was needed by the Charter School on the same property and so I was asked to move to the present location on the CHC campus and to transform the ministry into one of consultation. So rather than offering programs at the site I go out to offer presentations and invite groups of women in poverty for “Step Away for a Day” programs here.” The Step Away program offers women who have been incarcerated, who are homeless and those living in poverty a chance to spend some time on the campus of Chestnut Hill to relax, reflect and enjoy nature.

            Chestnut Hill College is having its Fifth Annual Urban Sustainability Conference here November 4-5, 2016 at the Sugar Loaf Campus of CHC. Ilia Dileo, OSF is the keynote speaker. "Dr. Ilia Delio, OSF, will deliver a keynote address which asks “Are We at Home in the Cosmos.” Dr. Delio, OSF is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics and neuroscience and the import of these for theology. She currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, where she is a tenured full professor of Theology with an emphasis on constructive systematic theology."(Click here to learn more)

“I am extremely excited to have this full time ministry sponsored by our Congregation. I am able to do what my heart desires most,” said Mary Elizabeth.

For more information about this wonderful initiative visit the website at or Facebook at Check out current activities on the blog at

Celebrating Laudato Si Week June 12-19th

Laudato Si is celebrating its first Birthday! One year ago, on June 18th 2015, Pope Francis released his historic encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. 

Laudato Si’ Week will be a major international celebration to reflect on the Laudato Si’ message and take action to bring it to life.

 Go to Laudato Si Week for Events, Resources and Daily Live Webinars.