A reflection from Sister Edith A. Hart, RSHM
As I see it, the Eastern American Area has made significant contributions to the goals of Laudato Si! The Area leadership supported the goal to establish a Native Garden in the area of a building footprint. The building, known as St. Joseph’s, had outlived its viability and was removed. Plans were developed in 2016 for the Native Garden, dedicated to native trees, shrubs, bushes and flowers to support native birds, butterflies, bees, other insects and animals. It has grown into a magnificent space enjoyed by all the life that exists on our property here in Tarrytown. Recently we sponsored an Audubon event in the garden on May 20th. The Director of the Saw Mill River Audubon invited several of its members and we identified 36 species of birds. The folks who visited us from Audubon were in total awe of our garden environment and asked for the opportunity to visit from time to time.
Another extraordinary contribution to our environment flowed out of the necessity to widen the road behind the convent to allow easy access for emergency vehicles and to support Marymount Convent’s structure in the back of the chapel. The road was widened twice its original width and a new retaining wall was constructed. This included a necessary drainage project to control the water runoff from our property into the Tarrytown Lakes. Because trees were removed in the area behind and below the wall, the area was landscaped and 30 large native trees were planted, as well as more than 100 shrubs and ground cover plants. A very difficult decision was made to remove the building that came to be named Pellissier. Originally a carriage house and stable, the structure had been on the property since the mid to late 19th century and underwent several renovations to house novices, postulants, elementary school children and later as living space for sisters. The building was ultimately judged to be unsafe without serious renovations. All of the space that was the building’s footprint and surrounding parking area was given over to “green space” and several new native trees were planted.
So, AS I SEE IT, I am grateful to our Area Council for making such thoughtful decisions to enable us to live the call of Laudato Si. Removing buildings has reduced the need for gas, electricity, and water. We have given land back to nature and planted native trees, shrubs and bushes that will grow and thrive and be life-giving to countless creatures. We are protecting our lakes and the land around the lakes. Besides all that, we have a beautiful habitat for the people who live here on our space in Tarrytown where love and care are lavished; and, we are still able to reach out in generous support to so many in need. In fact, another building, known as Rogan Lodge, was refurbished and given to the LifeWay Network for use as its administrative offices. We have been truly blessed a hundred-fold as we continue to give of ourselves for the Life of our World. I rest in the confidence and deep gratitude for these wonderful gifts.