Integral Ecology comes to TCAD

“We are faced not with two separate crises: one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” -Pope Francis (Laudato Si’, para. 139).

A team from TCAD had been invited this summer to visit the Maryknoll Sisters in California. A network called Pando Populus invited several religious communities together to dream up ways they could build an ecological civilization, one that takes seriously Pope Francis’ call for an “ecological conversion” in Laudato Si’ (para. 216).

Earlier this month, co-workers gathered to listen to a new vision for The Center at Donaldson (TCAD).

What is integral ecology? Jessica Ludescher Imanak summarizes it well:

Pope Francis reframes sustainability in terms of the concept of integral ecology. Sustainability in Laudato Si’ encompassess development and resource use, but it also expands to includes integral human development as well. The framework of integral ecology invites us to ‘integrate’ various dimensions ‘into a broader vision of reality’ (LS 138). Integral ecology includes multiple ecologies: environmental, economic, social, cultural, and daily life (human ecology). It also incorporates the Catholic Social Teaching (CST) principle of the common good and a notion of intergenerational justice.

We’ll be coming back again to the emphasis via training, reflections, and ministry practices.

It’s fun to plumb the depths of what integral ecology means, and what the focus can offer the world… but it’s also easy to let it get too complicated. What are some ways we can live into this focus?

I invited Sr. Joetta Huelsmann, PHJC, to share what the vision means to the PHJC community. She writes:

All Thing Are Connected

In Pope Francis’ introduction to Laudato Si, he states:  “St. Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”

We at the Center of Donaldson take those words seriously as we work toward a common vision to care for the earth and the people of the earth. In doing so, generations after us then will have an earth to enjoy.

Our goal is to work together to heal the earth and to educate others to do the same so that we can transform the future.

We are already practicing Integral Ecology as we work together for social and environmental change by:

-Using environmentally friendly cleaning products


-Installing solar panels

-Assisting the poor and marginalized

-Establishing green houses to eat healthier and locally grown foods

These are only a few examples. But, still so much more needs to be done to be kind to our planet and to those who live on it. So, we have made a commitment to collaborate with others so that all will have the resources that they need to live an integrated life on this earth. Are we up to this challenge? What first step can you take to continue to care for our earth and the people that inhabit it?

… … …

I’ll end this with a picture of a beautiful little girl staring out over a frozen Lake Galbraith (because I can!), contemplating the breadth of the 21st century, this blue-green world turning and spinning through the solar system…

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