Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield

A group of Elms College students spent the better part of a week at Mont Marie recently through the Dorothy Day program. The college program was designed to allow students to participate in community service projects with the Sisters of St. Joseph in keeping with the Sisters’ charism to “unite neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God.”

The group of nine students weeded and landscaped grounds on the Mont, made “earth pins” and interacted with residents of the Mont Marie Health Care Center. They also learned how to reduce their carbon footprint by viewing a movie, “Carbon Nation,” and completing an on-line survey with the help of Sister Denise Granger, SSJ Coordinator of Justice and Peace.

“The students are able to see how we care for the earth on the Mont. We try to make the connection,” said Sister Roberta Mulcahy who heads the SSJ Sharing in Earth’s Ecological Design or SEED program.

Students arrive on campus a week before classes begin and volunteer during the day after which they reflect on their experience and formulate insight personally and collectively. The students receive credit and fulfill their community service requirements for the college with this volunteer work.

Sophomore Daniel Rivera admits he knew little about the earth’s carbon footprint until he completed the survey in which he learned that his lifestyle, particularly in regard to the food industry, is “way above the national average.” In response, Daniel said he was going to be more conscientious about his own carbon footprint. “I’ll probably think a lot more about what I’m eating and the affect it has on the earth – eat more organically, ride my bike a bit more, recycle more at school and live greener all around.”

Catherine Leonard, a senior, previously knew “nothing whatsoever” about the carbon footprint and its affect on the earth. The survey was an eye-opener from which she learned that she wastes water by taking long showers as well as electricity by keeping her fan on all day. “I never knew using regular silverware and recycling it is helping out (the environment) a lot more than using plastic stuff.” She plans to alter her lifestyle by traveling less, carpooling and also using Brita bottles for drinking water instead of plastic water bottles.

The program is named for Dorothy Day, a Catholic woman who served the poor by providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, and hospitality to all.

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