Twenty-seven days into our Lenten journey of “Walking in Solidarity,” we turn our attention to this week’s theme of Investing in Solidarity: Stewardship of Resources.  

“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Pt 4:10)

We’re going to focus mainly on stewardship of natural resources, which falls in line with the Franciscan value of caring for creation.

If you’re interested in other types of Christian stewardship, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a page that talks about being stewards of the Church and of vocations, as well as the obstacles and role models of stewards.

We look at being stewards of the Earth not just because we are Franciscans, but because we live in one of the large, developed, industrialized countries that has taken control of many of the Earth’s natural resources.  

Caring for creation is an important topic in the discussion of solidarity because our actions impact our brothers and sisters around the world:

  • Each person in the industrialized world uses as much commercial energy as 10 people in the developing world. 
  • Americans constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 24 percent of the world’s energy. 
  • The average American individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world’s population lives on 25 gallons.
  • It takes an average of 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat in modern Western farming systems. It takes 5, 214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.

This data from Mindfully.org is just a small sample of how our consumerism.

A good question to ask ourselves this Lent: If God entrusted the Earth to all of us, then how can those of us who find ourselves in positions of power lessen our environmental impact and live more in solidarity with others?

At our headquarters in Washington, D.C., Franciscan Mission Service strives to be good stewards by doing what any family or organization could do, inviting our guests to join us a we:

  • recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum.
  • avoid using Styrofoam because it is not biodegradable and has other negative impacts.
  • compost and garden, when it is feasible
  • accept or buy gently-used materials, repair and reuse things we already own, and donate or give away things we no longer need. This helps keeps things out of landfills and prevents new resources from being used. Also, this helps others in need – like our old computers when to an organization called Byte Back.
  • stay mindful of our use of water and electricity
  • eat little meat
  • print on both sides of a piece of paper
  • properly dispose of electronics
  • use water filters instead of buying bottled water

Our lay missioners around the world, especially in Bolivia have engaged in a variety of ministries over the years that help them work with locals to become better stewards of the environment.

As we shared in last year’s Earth Day blog post, Jean Lechtenberg (2007-2009) once lead an anti-litter educational campaign by dressing up as Pachamama.

Jean Lechtenberg in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia teaching children about taking care of Pachamama by not littering

Most recently, Nora Pfeiffer (2009-2011) was connected to care for creation through most of her ministries, which she often served in close partnership with a priest and a local graduate student.

  • Taught communities about recycling, composting and gardening. Old tires became great receptacles of kitchen scraps that would eventually help enrich the soil. 
  • Led eco-theological retreats for high school students and other people
  • Co-hosted two radio shows that focused on social justice and ecological topics
  • Helped children recovering from burns experience the beauty of nature. Nora lived at the center where the children were recovering, and she helped entertain them with work in the garden and even a bird-watching adventure.

How are you being a good steward of natural resources? We’d love to hear your story and suggestions!

Check back Wednesday for unique tips on how you can be more environmentally-friendly when cleaning out your closet this spring, and on Friday for a post by one of our partners in mission about his environmental efforts in Kenya.