Office of Ecological Sustainability

Recognizing the interrelatedness of all creation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s mission includes a commitment “to care for Earth.” This has been a central value of the SCNs throughout our history, reflected in the many ways the SCNs care for God’s creation. We reaffirmed this commitment at our 2018 General Assembly, when we directed ourselves to “intensify our efforts across the Congregation to address the destruction of natural resources and the ecological and environmental crisis.” We invite you to join us in this commitment.

Below are some of our sustainability efforts and stories of action.

Value Statements

Our Office of Ecological Sustainability is guided by our mission and our congregational values. We have developed guidelines and value statements on caring for our land and the environment more broadly throughout the years. Below are a few documents that reflect our commitment to ecological sustainability.

In seeking to “be a model of sustainable and regenerative living”, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have taken the following steps:

Greenhouse Gas Emission Goal

The SCNs believe that climate change is real and one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of all life on Earth, especially those who are poor and marginalized. In order to do our part to address this threat and to limit planetary warming to 1.5°C by 2100, we pledge to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions by 2037 in the United States and Belize and by 2047 in India, Nepal, and Botswana. Below are some of the ways we are working towards this goal.

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We pledge to drive fewer cars per population and increase the percentage of electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids.

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We pledge to install or invest in additional solar panels to provide renewable energy.

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We pledge to eat a more locally-grown, plant-based diet and grow more kitchen gardens. [link to Nazareth community garden section] [link recipe book here]

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We pledge to pursue energy conservation efforts throughout our congregation.

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We will examine our air travel emissions and commit funds for carbon offsets.

Stories about Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals

Gardening around the Congregation

Gardening around the Congregation

For Sisters Anne Marie O’Shea and Ann Whittaker in Brockton, Massachusetts, the practice of gardening has provided a powerful avenue for community and peacebuilding. In line with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s goal to grow a more locally-grown plant-based diet and to grow more kitchen gardens, Sister Anne Marie and Sister Ann share how their community motivated them to garden and how their garden allows them to live more sustainably.

Advice on container gardens

Advice on container gardens

Join the SCN Office of Ecological Sustainability in learning how to garden wherever you may be, as we learn from Sisters who are “starting small” by gardening in pots, containers, and on their balconies.

SCN Family Members Share Garden Photos

SCN Family Members Share Garden Photos

SCN family members across the Congregation have been sharing gardening tips and photos of their kitchen gardens, today we share photos from Teresa Kotturan, S

Eliminating single-use plastics

Plastic waste is threatening waterways, aquatic habitats, and the ecological balance of our global communities. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are doing our part to eliminate our consumption of single-use plastics through refusal to purchase plastics, reuse of materials, and the production and use of more sustainable materials.

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We are eliminating plastic waste from our congregations in India.

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We are eliminating single-use plastic materials on our campus at Nazareth, KY.

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We are intentionally eliminating plastic waste and use from our communities in Louisville, KY.

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We hope to alleviate global plastic waste by empowering communities in which we serve to reduce plastic consumption.

Stories of Eliminating Single-Use Plastics

Composting Christmas cleanup

Composting Christmas cleanup

Nazareth employees celebrated the Christmas season in the Motherhouse Dining Room using compostable plates, utensils, and cups.

Reducing our global water usage

Our world has a finite supply of freshwater, and climate change is exasperating the disparities in access to freshwater held by communities around the world. As a congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth see water as a sacred resource and are working hard to use it responsibly.

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We will do this by sustainably harvesting water in many of our local communities and ministry places.

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We will do this by conserving water.

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We will do this by treating rain as a resource.

Stories about reducing our global water usage

Bioswale at Nazareth

Bioswale at Nazareth

The Office of Ecological Sustainability and the Grounds Department of Nazareth Campus Service designed and installed a bioswale behind Villages II and above Froman Creek at Nazareth. To learn more about what a bioswale is and how it will help to mitigate stormwater runoff and erosion while increasing wildlife habitat, watch the following video.

Nepal water project

Nepal water project

It’s been almost three years since this dream project started. Soon it will be complete so people in this Nepali village may enjoy their right to safe drinking water.

Water with Blessings

Water with Blessings

Sister Barbara Flores, SCN, and her willing assistant and partner in ministry, Celia Usher, piled 20 white buckets and 2 large bags of Sawyer Water Filters into their vehicle and set out toward the rural St. Margaret Village to what turned out to be a very blessed...

Managing our land to promote maximum wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration

Biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate around the world, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth understand nature as God’s handiwork bestowed upon us as stewards. We are taking an active role in supporting native habitats across our lands and supporting the biodiversity of nature.

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We are transitioning agricultural fields from conventional corn and soybeans to native prairie.

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We are increasing the number of native plant species in our landscaping.

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We are managing our land as a habitat for native species, including federally threatened and at-risk populations.

Stories about wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration

Cicada spotting at Nazareth

Cicada spotting at Nazareth

Millions of Brood X cicadas are emerging across the United States. The first cicada sighting at Nazareth has occurred. Sister Kelly O’Mahony shares this shot taken on May 29, 2021. Have you spotted your first cicada yet?

Bioswale at Nazareth

Bioswale at Nazareth

The Office of Ecological Sustainability and the Grounds Department of Nazareth Campus Service designed and installed a bioswale behind Villages II and above Froman Creek at Nazareth. To learn more about what a bioswale is and how it will help to mitigate stormwater runoff and erosion while increasing wildlife habitat, watch the following video.

Threatened Bat Population Discovered at Nazareth

Threatened Bat Population Discovered at Nazareth

The Sisters of Charity are celebrating this Halloween news that six species of bats (one of them a threatened species) have been found at Nazareth. The bats were discovered as part of a commitment to document every animal and plant that calls Nazareth Home.

Stories of Action

Meatless Mondays – One Year Report

Meatless Mondays – One Year Report

A little over one year ago, Sisters in the Nazareth Motherhouse voted to eat plant-based meals one day a week in order to reduce their carbon impact and live in solidarity with those who are affected by climate change;  thus, “Meatless Mondays” began. One year later, we examine what difference fifty-two days without eating meat has made to the environment. 

Pittsburgh Faith Group Cares for Common Home

Pittsburgh Faith Group Cares for Common Home

A faith group in Pittsburgh is busily caring for Earth. SCNs Denise Hibel, Theresa Martin Blehar, Cecilia Ann Fatula, Linda Soltis, and Michaelette Pavlik live in Caritas, just down the hill from St. Louise Convent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They share a deep commitment to carry out the SCN mission “to care for Earth” and have submitted their activities as part of the Care for Our Common Home program.   

Take Action

Join the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in taking action to protect God’s creation.

The SCN Care for our Common Home program provides specific ways individuals and organizations can live more sustainably. Click to learn more.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals provide a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Click to learn more.

Advocacy from our Office of Social and Environmental Justice – Click to learn more.

Resources and Community Partners

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are grateful for the following community partners and resources that enhance our mission to care for Earth and our commitment to sustainability.

Tarumitra: Friends of the Trees, is a nationwide students’ organization to promote ecological sensitivity in India.

New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future is a community non-profit organization that promotes sustainable thinking and sustainable development.

Explore the National Wildlife Foundation’s Native Plant Finder to supplement your own landscaping.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is a private land sanctuary with over 16,137 acres of land near Nazareth, KY.

Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, a “community of congregations, faith-based organizations, and individuals of faith responding to climate change”.

Pray this ecological examen offered by the Order of the Jesuits and the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

Reference progress that religious communities of women have been making toward the Sustainable Development Goals through the Global Sisters Report.

“Laudato Si” is an encyclical written by Pope Francis surrounding “care for our common home”.

“Sacred Lands, a collaborative video about Catholic Sisters’ spiritual relationship with the land.


The Catholic Climate Covenant is a non-profit organization formed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is a collaboration among the faithful to respond to the contemporary ecological crisis.

Watch this recorded Butterfly Garden Workshop, hosted by our office and featuring local experts on native plants and pollinators, to learn how to plant your own butterfly garden.