Caring for Creation: How Providence's Commitment to the Environment is Rooted in Our Mission
[3 MIN READ]
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Environmental stewardship is rooted in the Providence Mission, including our value of justice and the need to care for those who are poor and vulnerable.
The Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, our foundresses, committed to care for our people, resources and the Earth.
More broadly, Providence’s efforts to address climate change are in line with the Catholic Church’s call to care for our common home.
Climate change is impacting the communities we serve every day, from melting glaciers to ravaging wildfires to unprecedented flooding. These changes are increasing the social determinants of health, adding stressors and trauma for the communities we serve.
That’s why Providence’s responsibility to address climate change and be a steward of the environment is so clear.
“The term ‘steward’ means being entrusted to care for something,” says Sister Sara Tarango, a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange and the environmental stewardship liaison in Southern California for Providence. “God entrusted all of Creation to us to care for. It is our responsibility to take care of Creation as God would.”
In line with the Providence Mission, environmental stewardship touches all aspects of health care, from environmental justice to building climate resilience within our communities. These efforts aim to protect those who are poor and vulnerable most affected by climate change.
“Our Mission calls us to support the poor and vulnerable, and right now, that includes our planet,” says Tarango. “Our Earth needs of a lot of healing.”
Called to care for the environment
Environmental stewardship at Providence is rooted in our value of justice. As stated in their 2010 document Hopes and Aspirations for Providence Ministries, the Sisters of Providence said, “We ask that you be good stewards of all we have been given for this ministry—our people, our resources, and our earth.”
With this call, Providence instituted an aspirational goal of being carbon-negative by 2030, and we are acting to eliminate our negative impact on the Earth through mitigation, adaptation and advocacy. Our WE ACT framework highlights five key areas of environmental stewardship we are working to shift: waste, energy and water, agriculture and food, chemicals, and transportation.
“Our environment and our health are interconnected,” says Tarango. “If one is doing poorly, it will impact the other. We need to help both get to a level where they can thrive. That’s what justice is about – being able to thrive where we are. At Providence, we strive to care wisely for our people, resources and our Earth today and for decades to come.”
Embedded in the Catholic faith
Environmental stewardship is not unique to Providence. Catholic health care institutions have a moral duty to care for our home and communities. Providence’s environmental stewardship work is linked with that responsibility of protecting resources and supporting those who are poor and vulnerable.
These efforts are codified through the Laudato Si, an encyclical letter from Pope Francis to the whole world that calls for action on climate change and care for our common home, and the Pope’s follow up document Laudate Deum this fall. The Laudato Si urges individuals and institutions to do their part in taking responsibility for the environment.
In addition to the letter, the Church also set up the Laudato Si Action Platform (LSAP) as a way to encourage parishes, communities, schools, foundations, hospitals and other Catholic organizations to share what they are doing to live out Laudato Si. Providence's Laudato Si Action Plan and Reflection can be found on the LSAP website.
“With health care contributing to 8.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, we need to think about our own impact and how to curb it,” says Tarango.
Within the Catholic Church, the fall is a particularly good season to reflect on how we can act for the planet, with the Feast of St. Francis and the Season of Creation being celebrated.
“The Season of Creation and Feast of St. Francis are times to reflect on the connection between faith and care for the environment,” says Tarango. “But no matter the season, it’s always good to be thinking about and acting for the environment!”
Sister Sara Tarango, Sister of St. Joseph of Orange and environmental stewardship liaison in Southern California for Providence.
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