Fields of Sinsinawa Group Begins Work

The Legacy of Our Land

by Sheila Fitzgerald, OP

Over the years, I have heard many of our Sisters say, “The land at Sinsinawa will carry our legacy into the future.” Truly, we have grown in our realization that the land does carry our mission. We have carried the name Sinsinawa into the mission fields far and wide. Perhaps now we will claim, in a new way, Fields of Sinsinawa as today’s call to “proclaim the Gospel through the ministry of preaching and teaching.”

The words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ remind us of our responsibility—“The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the common good of all” (#95).

We believe in the common good of all. We believe we are called to act on behalf of the whole of creation. In partnership with the land at Sinsinawa, we are accepting challenges to address many of the root causes degrading our Earth home—climate change, loss of biodiversity, food and water insecurity, soil depletion, and destruction of ecosystems. We address these issues by the choices we make in how the land at Sinsinawa is administered for the common good.

Though we can identify many discrete issues, clearly caring for the soil beneath our feet is paramount. Healthy soil means healthy food. Healthy food means healthy people. Healthy people work to assure a healthy planet!

We have taken many actions over the years that have led to new opportunities. In 2016, an extensive Land Stewardship Plan laid out future directions. More recently, we adopted the following policy statement to offer guidance going forward: “Because we recognize Sinsinawa Mound as a sacred place entrusted to our care, we will make our land available for spiritual, ecological, agricultural, and educational programs and will preserve it as much as possible for future generations.”

Flowing from this statement and rooted in the 2016 land plan, we adopted a land ethic statement and guiding principles for land care at Sinsinawa. Our land ethic states, “Strong partnerships and collaborative relationships foster learning communities and assure continuity in the heritage, mission, and values of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa.”

What a wonderful opportunity for collaboration to ensure that our mission is alive and well into the future at Sinsinawa: Fields of Sinsinawa—A Farmer-Led Learning Center.

We have been nurturing partnership and collaborative projects over the years. Much good work is being accomplished through these efforts. The Food, Faith, and Farming Network, which was sparked by the farm crisis of the 1980s, is one example. This organization, formerly known as Churches Center for Land and People, nurtured by Miriam Brown, OP, at Sinsinawa, today carries that mission forward in our name. It continues to be a vital presence in Wisconsin and beyond, doing work we could never do on our own!

The seeds are now being planted for Fields of Sinsinawa. We are counting on all the components needed for growth. Your continued support and prayer for this endeavor are essential!