Author Robert Swan wrote, "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it." When Swan's words were written, the world was a much different place. More specifically, people still had library cards. Modernity, however, has brought us access to all of the information in the known world at the touch of a button. And while many ignored Al Gore's pleas throughout his film, "An Inconvenient Truth", it continues to become more difficult to remain oblivious about the state of our environmental climate.
The double-edged sword is that the same modern existence which allows us access to such knowledge tends to distract us from thinking about the distant future, as we are conditioned to favor instant gratification and often shirk the aged notions of diligence and patience. As climate change is exponential, the solution needs to be more immediate than many people realize, and it needs to come from the individuals who truly believe in leaving the Earth in better condition than how it existed when they inherited it. For, as we all know, it will be our children who will either reap the benefits or suffer the consequences.
Caritas Vehicle Services would like to recognize a special Community of dedicated spiritual leaders who have voluntarily chosen to carry the torch of sustainability, and they are The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Based out of Monroe, Michigan, the IHM Sisters' primary ministry since 1845 was education, initially as school teachers in elementary, secondary, and college professors. Over the years, ministries have broadened to include social work, parish and hospital ministry as well as advocacy for the poor and marginalized. It was as educators and social justice advocates, that the IHM Community was drawn into the world of ecological sustainability.
Faced with the monumental decision in 1999 of whether to renovate their 375,000-square-foot, 70-year-old Motherhouse, which was in need of extensive repairs, or demolish and build new. They found themselves at a crossroads. Wanting to rebuild and recycle rather than destroy, they chose to renovate their home and, subsequently their lives. Embracing Sustainability as the only moral choice for the future, the IHM Sisters stated their vision as follows: "To bring about respect for, the nurturing and promoting the liberation and well-being of all persons and all of nature as God's good creation." Understanding the interconnections of every living and non-living entity on the planet is a key tenet of their spirituality and belief in God's will.
In 2001, they set about re-creating their home using "Green Design". The Sisters decided on a geothermal heating system that re-uses water and saves energy, a graywater system, the recycling and refurbishing of old building materials, installing energy-efficient lights, and purifying the indoor air, among many other green products. When the project was finally completed in 2003, it was a marvel of modern innovation and green technology. According to the IHM's website, the structure was, "...[ranked] as one of the Midwest’s largest residential sustainable renovations registered with the U.S. Green Building Council; the project earned LEED-NC certification and 10 local, regional and national awards, including two from the Environmental Protection Agency."
The following link will lead you to a professionally produced video that documents the renovations of the Motherhouse and spotlights the pioneering planetary conscience of the Sisters of IHM. And, to learn how you can follow the example of the Blue Nuns, stay tuned to our blog for more articles on green technology in the auto industry!
HERE'S THE VIDEO: The Blue Nuns Go Green - Video