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.
Among their activities, Sisters Denise and Theresa Martin grow their own vegetables. Sister Theresa Martin used to grow enough tomatoes to take up to the sisters in St. Louise. Now she cans tomato juice, tomatoes, and hot peppers. Sister Denise cans spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, beans, tomatoes, and apple sauce, along with freezing other produce such as broccoli. Sister Linda grows tomatoes in containers on her porch and limits her meat consumption to once or twice a week when she cooks for herself.
Sisters Cecilia Ann Fatula and Denise keep their thermostats low in the winter, as low as 63°F. Sister Denise shares, “The Sisters say, ‘Don’t go to Denise’s apartment because you will freeze!’” In the summer, Sisters Cecilia Ann and Denise keep their windows open and prefer not to use the air conditioning.
The Sisters do what they can to save resources such as water, electricity, and paper. Sister Denise saves water by taking sponge baths most of the week, then takes a warm bubble bath on Saturdays. “This is from my nursing home days when the director of nursing said that the residents don’t need a bath every day.” Sister Cecilia Ann keeps lights off unless it is dark and saves electricity by regularly using her non-motorized hand sweeper. Several Sisters hang up their clothes to dry rather than using an electric dryer. Sister Theresa Martin uses a cloth napkin instead of paper, then washes it at the end of each week.
Most of the Sisters purchase their clothes from thrift stores. Sister Denise said that she can’t remember when she last bought new clothes. Her sister sometimes passes along clothes and shoes. Everyone in the faith group is a diligent recycler.
Recently, the Sisters planted two apple trees on the lawn outside their home. Sister Denise notes, “One is a Fugi and the other is a Honey Crisp. Both are supposed to be good for making applesauce. We hope we live long enough to make our first batch of applesauce from these trees.”