Friday, September 21, 2007

IHM Nuns in Monroe Michigan are Going Green

The IHM Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, are teaching sisters who have educated tens of thousands of students in Metro Detroit. In an article in the Detroit News it says:

".. it might seem easy to conclude that the aging nuns in the order have accomplished most of the work they believe God intended for them. But life is long and the nuns say they believe it is all sacred."

Said Sister Joan Mumaw, vice president of the order, "We're educated women. Most of us have master's degrees and PhDs. So, even today, even though we have sisters in their 80s and 90s, we are still learning theology in the light of new science, in the light of new understandings"

The sisters were facing enormous energy bills for their massive 75-year-old mother house and so they decided to make it green. Most of the nuns living there are 10 years older than the building.

"So they have set a new path, emphasizing the environment and scientific discoveries as part of their spirituality. A nationally acclaimed $56 million renovation of their huge mother house, which last week received another in a long list of awards from the Environmental Protection Agency, and a newly published booklet are but two examples of their unique fusion of faith, science and the human condition."

Two of the most important renovations that were undertaken were to save on heating and water costs.

"The sisters paid to build a massive geothermal heating and cooling system. The technology uses 240 wells and 47 miles of underground pipes to take advantage of the constant, 55-degree temperature of the earth to decrease the use of natural gas by 58.3 percent -- an annual savings of about $200,000. They cut water consumption nearly in half by installing new fixtures and building a wetland on the property that collects water from sinks, showers and tubs and recycles it to flush the toilets."

How refreshing to note the care for protecting the resources of the earth in these sisters. I might add that it is encouraging to note that these religious women were able to evolve their thinking about God, creation, evolution and science and take that faith to a newer, higher level of action.

"This month, the teaching order published "Four Stories: Integrating the Universe Story, the Christian Story, the Earth Story and the IHM Story." The nuns hope the work demonstrates how melding scientific discoveries with Roman Catholic theology and their personal declaration of a "spirituality of kinship with all members of the Earth community" yields a devotion to God that is both vibrant and worldly.

In "Four Stories," Sister Mary Ellen Sheehan, a theologian, and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary embrace the current scientific account of the universe and evolution, as well as the Christian story of faith and the history of their order."

Hats off to the good sisters 35 miles to the north for using their scientific brains to honor Creation.

It is noteworthy to point out that the Franciscan Sisters both in Sylvania and Tiffin Ohio have a similar calling to protect their environment and to promote care for the earth.

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