Dominican Sisters Answer Climate Change Challenge
October 20, 2022
SPRINGFIELD—In the 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis wrote that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
Recently, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield took up that challenge by approving the first of a series of plans that they and their associates will put into action through 2023.
The plan has three goals:
n Recognize and interrupt economic injustices that harm Earth.
n Live more simply and consume less.
n Approach care for earth through the lens of faith in a loving God.
A committee of sisters and associates, led by Sister Sharon Zayac, are responsible for encouraging the congregation’s response to the pope’s seven-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
“We recognize that no single person alone, or even a well-meaning group of persons like us, can heal the trauma earth has experienced. But unless we all do something, nothing will ever change. We are committing ourselves to be the change we wish to see. That’s what this plan is about,” Sister Sharon said.
Solidarity with the earth and with the poor
The plan includes individual and communal components. Purchasing more hybrid vehicles or perhaps electric vehicles is part of the plan. So is making purchasing choices that lessen negative impacts on the environment or on people living in poverty. 
As for simple lifestyles, the sisters will participate in the Catholic Climate Covenant Cath/Cap Program to track carbon emissions from vehicles and air travel, then offset those emissions with a financial commitment to green projects in the community. 
“Which project or projects we support will be determined at a later date,” Sister Sharon explains. “The purpose is to make us accountable for the way we use fossil fuels.”
The sisters also plan to learn the effects of our national food system on the climate, choose to eat less meat, purchase more locally grown food and reduce the amount of plastic purchased or used.
To foster a spiritual life in tune with the realities of climate change, the sisters will integrate prayers that reflect this awareness into their common times of prayer. Each sister will be encouraged to reflect on creation and the holiness of nature as part of her spiritual practice.
The Springfield Dominican Sisters and associates are among hundreds of religious orders participating in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
Laudato Si’ was published after top scientists from the United Nations issued a dire warning about the rapidly multiplying effects of climate change. The findings, published during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), warned that global carbon emissions have to be halved by 2030 in order to keep the warming trend in the proposed range of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Find the full action plan at or visit for more information.
—Provided by Sister Beth Murphy, OP
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