Dear Friends of our Incarnate Word Family,
Praised be the Incarnate Word!
Only a wholehearted Congregational commitment to the future could bring our Sesquicentennial Jubilee year to a close. Our Jubilee called us to transform our heritage into legacy, trusting that God is calling us to transformation in every aspect of our congregational life.
We are called to steward our mission in justice to future generations. Pope Francis reminds us that, “the notion of the common good also extends to future generations… Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us (Laudato Si, No.159).” This journey will lead us to a new moment, a new place. Our Congregation will be different, perhaps even unrecognizable, but the essence of our Charism and Mission will remain. We trust in God’s promise.
The first of our Jubilee commitments is the public assurance that our nature sanctuary stewarded by our sponsored ministry, Headwaters at Incarnate Word, will be preserved in its natural state in perpetuity. We just signed the final Conservation Easement agreement between the Congregation, The Headwaters ministry, and Greenspaces Alliance of South Texas. We had hoped to celebrate this very significant moment at the close of our Assembly in March… but the pandemic obligated a different process.
We read this pandemic interruption as a sign of the times in light of our call to an ecological conversion. We have learned painfully how everything is connected, how there are no borders for nature; COVID-19 did not need a visa! We have likewise learned that the most vulnerable among us are always the most affected, but also that we need to work together to create common solutions to our human family. “Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it” (Laudato Si, no. 139).
The pandemic has shown us that our “normal ways” were part of the problem. For the same reason, we need to consider that genuinely caring for our common home requires a conversion away from our “normal ways.” We all need “…an ‘ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (Laudato Si, No. 217). We all need to sacrifice for the common good!
Five years ago, Pope Francis called us to care for creation through his encyclical, Laudato Sí. Our journey to a Conservation Easement has taken much longer to come to fruition. Discernment, dialogue, and discussion over many years have marked this journey. We did not come to this decision without an extensive process of consultation and listening. After more than twenty years since prophetic men and women- Sisters and conservationists in our ministries- raised this idea, we have taken the final step. We take a leap of faith, confident that in this easement, “we are making the merciful love of God visible in our world today.” May this Conservation Easement be a real and tangible way for our Congregation and all our ministries of making this commitment to ecological conversion.
The Conservation Easement is a sign of hope because we are responding to the Church’s call to protect and care for the Earth and making a decision for the common good and for future generations. What an incredible witness in the midst of a pandemic that reminds us that everything is connected, that our common home shelters our entire human family.
We hope the image of the Monarch Butterfly migrating through our shared Incarnate Word campus will remind us of the transformation that is possible when we care together for God’s wondrous creation.
The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio.