Addressing Climate Change

At this critical turning point in the sacred history of creation and humanity,
we have heard our deep desire to trust and dare (YAS, C 4).

The Climate Crisis

The climate crisis is the critical concern of our time. Global warming is driving dramatic changes in earth’s climate.  These developments are bringing about troubling consequences for life on planet Earth.  If we do not address global warming, the earth will become an even more hostile environment for our children. We have until 2030 to turn things around.

The warming of the planet is due to the release into the atmosphere of unprecedented amounts of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide through human activities such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).  Current emission levels of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases are much higher than in pre-industrial times (42% more). This is playing havoc with the normal “greenhouse effect” which keeps our earth at a comfortable temperature; too much of the energy from the sun is trapped and the Earth’s temperature is rising above acceptable limits.  In order to change the catastrophic trajectory of the current trend in global warming, we need to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 C/2.7 F above pre-industrial levels. Part of this means achieving net-zero emissions globally by 2050. This requires a series of courageous and daring actions in the political, business, technological, and social spheres. We humans must change our fossil fuel dependent lifestyles. It is imperative that we become consciously aware and intentional about how our lives and our choices negatively impact planet earth and threaten the lives of billions of people and species. 

In fact, those who are most impacted by consequences of increased global warming and climate change such as severe storms, droughts, famine, and water shortages, are persons who are already vulnerable, especially persons who are poor. In light of this, Pope Francis’ in Laudato Si’, an encyclical that has made a significant contribution to the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, underscores the connections between the suffering of earth and the suffering of persons who are poor.  He writes, “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 [integral ecology] to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”  (LS 139). 

SSND Mission and Addressing the Climate Crisis
Pope Francis points out in Laudato Si’ that Earth, our common home, is in crisis. 

At the heart of the crisis is a fractured relationship between the human species and the rest of the Earth community.  God did not design human beings to be apart from creation; rather, we are created as part of creation — interdependent members of the total community of life. This sense of oneness with creation is emphasized in the SSND Constitution, You Are Sent (YAS) which reads in part, “our mission is to proclaim the Good News as School Sisters of Notre Dame, directing our entire lives toward that oneness for which Jesus Christ was sent” (YAS 4).  

As a result, we are compelled to promote God’s vision of oneness while helping others to recover and witness right-relationship with each other and Earth through a conversion of attitudes and behaviors. As the Directional Statement of the SSND 24th General Chapter illustrates, promoting oneness through educating, advocating, and acting is a necessary and critical contribution to the flourishing of human beings and planet Earth. 

Recently, the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) have committed themselves to embrace a vision of integral ecology and to take a 7-year journey to become a Laudato Si’ Congregation. This decision, framed by the Seven Goals of the Laudato Si’ Platform for Action, holds profound implications and possibilities for the life and mission of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the wider SSND network.

As a Laudato Sí’ Congregation, SSNDs are inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical to live in such a way that our lifestyles and our spirituality reduce and eliminate greenhouse gases, while promoting the health and sustainability of all of creation. We understand that our greatest contribution to address climate change is to educate, advocate, and act in ways that lead to personal conversion and social transformation.  Guided by the SSND mission of making one, we believe “integral ecology” can be achieved through sustained collaborative efforts among Sisters, Associates, and Staff across the SSND network.  

We invite you on this journey with us.


Reflections on the Laudato Si’ Goals

Goal #1: Response to the Cry of the Earth - Greater use of clean renewable energy and reducing fossil fuels in order to achieve carbon neutrality, efforts to protect and promote biodiversity, guaranteeing access to clean water for all, etc.
Laudato Si Goals

Season of Creation 2022

This year’s Season of Creation logo, the Burning Bush, reminds us of the power of “removing your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)

Everything Ablaze: Reflections on Ecological Spirituality

Instead of seeing vacant inertness in matter, Teilhard the scientist and Mary Oliver the poet, testify to us of the immanence, presence, power, and generativity of the Divine ablaze in all created things.  In creation, Teilhard discovered that the elements of sacraments, through which Divine life is dispensed to us, are everywhere.

A Spirituality For Addressing Global Warming by David Lowry

"We have been witnessing cataclysmic destruction by drought and fire in the West and wind and water in the Southeast and Northeast. Many in those regions are suffering multiple losses. Lives have been disrupted and some are grieving the loss of loved ones. What we are witnessing directs us to prayer and action."

Climate Crisis As A Spiritual Path by Joanna Macy

In this video Joanna Macy speaks beautifully about how to live with inner peace, even while being aware of some of the unprecedented – and often overwhelming – global challenges we face today.

COP26 Agreements

In a first for a UN Climate Conference, the agreement reached by the end of COP26 calls countries to a faster end to coal production and to stop fossil-fuel subsidies. But it did not ask countries to completely phase them out. It called on countries to make more ambitious commitments by the end of 2022.


Canada is among 19 countries promising to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions from some international shipping routes at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland Wednesday.

The Blue Sapphire of the Mind

Read this wonderful reflection by Cyrile Sincock on a four-week Earth Literacy zoom course exploring the theme:“cultivating a sense of place in a time of loss".

Ecological Conversion Stories

“Ecological conversion enables us to see the general harmony, the correlation of everything; how everything is related, everything is in relation.” ~ Pope Francis.  Take a moment and reflect on these brief ecological conversion stories.  

UN Summit Addressing Climate Change

Uniting the whole world to tackle climate change is the purpose for the COP 26 Summit being held in Glasgow, October 31- November 12, 2021.

Community Involvement and Participatory Action

Emphasis on Community involvement and participatory action to care for creation at the local, regional, national, and international levels; to promote advocacy and people’s campaign; to encourage rootedness in local territories and neighborhood ecosystems, etc.

Goal 5 - Ecological Education

Re-thinking and re-designing educational curricula in the spirit of integral ecology to create ecological awareness and action, promoting the ecological vocation of young people, teachers and leaders of education.

Goal 4 - Adoption of Simple Lifestyles

Adopting a simple lifestyle is grounded in the idea of sufficiency, and promoting sobriety in the use of resources and energy. Adopt actions that support a simpler lifestyle such as reducing waste and adopting sustainable dietary habits, greater use of public transport, active mobility (walking, cycling), and avoiding single-use items (e.g. plastic, etc.).

Goal 3 - Ecological Economics

Ecological economics calls us to consider the planet and people in our actions. Do we invest in renewable energy? Do we purchase our food and clothes from Fair Trade operations? Do we aim to support sustainable production and ethical consumption?

Goal 2 - Cry of the Poor

Integral ecology, a holistic perspective on reality suggests that “human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself.”

Goal 1 - Response to the Cry of the Earth

The Cry of the Earth is heard loud and clear as small communities disappear as a result of raging wild fires, heat related deaths climb and animal life losses in the billions are reported in the media.