By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Around two dozen billboards are going up across the state of Iowa and in western Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin to encourage care of the environment. The campaign is sponsored by Catholic sisters from the Upper Mississippi River Valley region.
Strategically planned before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, the sisters’ campaign encourage residents to seek support for legislation to reduce carbon emissions, develop clean energy policies and provide financial assistance to developing countries.
According to a press release from the Catholic sisters, the billboards serve as a reminder to delegates, potential presidential candidates and voters about this critical issue.
Sister Kathleen Storms, SSND, said Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth Committee (CSHE) initiated the billboard idea. CSHE’s members are from the communities of women religious sponsoring the campaign. The committee noted, “In his recent encyclical ‘Laudato Si,’ Pope Francis urgently calls us to take action to care for our common home. Everything is related, the pope wrote, ‘and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on our wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each creature and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.’”
CSHE urges individuals to heed the cry of Earth and the cry of those who suffer from the effects of climate change.
Sister Joy Peterson, PBVM, a committee member, said, “We must care for Earth and each other by our own actions, by engaging in dialogue with others, and pressing our lawmakers to prioritize bold action to turn the tide for climate justice.”
The “Care for our Common Home” message first appeared as ads in USA Today and diocesan newspapers, including The Catholic Messenger, in 2015. Catholic sisters have collaborated on billboards with other Gospel-themed messages over the past 20 years of their association, including a billboard on immigration in 2012.
The congregations supporting this billboard project are: Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wis.; Benedictine Sisters of Rock Island, Ill.; Sisters of Mercy of the West–Midwest Region; Notre Dame Sisters of the Central Province; Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in LaCrosse, Wis.; Sisters of Humility in Davenport; Franciscan Sisters in Clinton; Sisters United News; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque Franciscan Sisters and Visitation Sisters, all of Dubuque.
Care of Earth prayer services
An ecumenical Care of Earth prayer service led by Catholic sisters will be held at the following billboard locations and dates in Iowa:
• Jan. 27 at 12:30 p.m. at 410 E. 4th St., Davenport
• Jan. 31 at noon at 1808 42nd St., Des Moines