“Gladden our hearts to know that we may participate with your Holy Spirit to renew the face of your Earth and safeguard a home for all.”

Prayer for the Season of Creation 2021” (adapted)

On Monday, September 27, 2021, on the Feast Day of Saint Vincent de Paul, members of the Sisters of Charity and the College of Mount Saint Vincent communities gathered in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception to affirm their commitment to the seven-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform (LSAP). The well-attended event, organized by the Congregation’s LSAP Committee, included reading the sisters’ public statement on Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical, followed by signing individual pledge cards.

Sister Margaret O’Brien opens the event with words of hope amidst the earth in crisis.

Sister Margaret O’Brien, member of the Leadership Team and Chair of the LSAP Committee, opened the event by welcoming those in attendance and proclaiming the moment as a “joyous way” to celebrate Saint Vincent’s feast day. She characterized the event as “joyous, even in the face of planetary disaster, because the movement that we are a part of is a cause for hope.” She cited examples of the Congregation’s history of caring for the earth, such as Sisters Hill Farm in Stanfordville, in operation since the 1990s, and sisters like Sister Mary Ann Garisto and Sister Carol De Angelo, who have long been active in environmental causes. 

The main goals of the platform, Sister Margaret said, “are to respond to the cries of the earth — think extinctions and our garbage filling the oceans — and the other, to respond to the cries of the poor, those most affected by climate change and injustice.”

Sister Donna Dodge, President of the Sisters of Charity of New York, read the public statement in support of the action platform. The statement includes an immediate plan from September 2021 through August 2022 whereby the sisters “commit to educating ourselves in what more we might do to alleviate the cries of the earth and the poor and develop a contemplative view of life on our planet.” 

After the reading, Sister Donna announced a new initiative undertaken with the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Vincent’s Table, an outreach pantry for neighbors in need. She invited Dr. Susan R. Burns, President of the Mount, to deliver remarks on the new initiative.

Dr. Susan R. Burns, President, College of Mount Saint Vincent

Dr. Burns recalled, “When Sr. Donna shared the vision of the Sisters of Charity of New York partnering with the College of Mount Saint Vincent for an outreach pantry to help address food insecurity in the Bronx neighborhood and community, I knew that this collaborative effort could be a beautiful expression of our shared commitment to Vincentian and Setonian values and a response to Pope Francis’s call to action.”

Jordan Douglas, a recent graduate of the college and the Coordinator of Vincent’s Table, spoke next. He said, “Vincent’s Table is a cornerstone reflection of St. Vincent de Paul, Sister Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Sister Louise de Marillac’s mission throughout their lives.” He announced that the ministry would begin reaching out to those in need next month. 

Sister Carol De Angelo collects pledge cards.

Sister Jean Flannelly, a member of the LSAP Committee, invited those in attendance to sign their pledge cards. Committee members collected the cards using small bowls that represented the planets in our solar system. These cards, in turn, were placed in a unique “earth bowl,” a large glass globe depicting the earth, hand-painted by Gary Finelli, a retired art teacher in Wassaic, N.Y.

Maureen Reiser, Director of Associates, joined Sister Jean in leading the Congregation in a “Prayer for the Season of Creation 2021.”

At the conclusion, Sister Margaret introduced the committee members and gave thanks to those who helped with the event.