This course will combine hands-on experiences of creation care with study and reflections on ecological conversion and integral ecology, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’. The course will be held at the Franciscan Life Process Center, a Franciscan retreat center run by the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and located on 230 acres of rural land outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The site is in a contemplative natural setting with three miles of nature trails, a restored native prairie, animal barns, an orchard and vegetable gardens, outdoor stations of the cross, and an outdoor rosary walk. Service projects to be undertaken during the fall break course (2022) include: building a rain garden; winnowing prairie seeds; daily animal chores; and homegrown food processing and preparation. Daily course sessions will complement the service work and will involve discussion of readings from Laudato Si’ and the ecological writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as well as authors such as St. Bonaventure, Josef Pieper, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollen, Stratford Caldecott, and others. Each student will be required to keep a journal integrating reflections on the readings with the service experiences. Daily integration sessions will be arranged each evening and prayer opportunities will be available.
Class Date: This course meets only during fall break as an immersion trip from October 15–20.
Instructor: Sr. Damien Marie Savino
Associated Term: Fall 2023