For more than a century, the grounds of Villa St. Joseph of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have been mostly private property. But that's slowly changing.
On many days, across the sprawling acreage of grassy hills, hearty gardens, walnut plantations and restored oak savannah, you can find volunteers, students and others looking to learn from the land.
Indeed, the estimated 200 acres roughly a dozen miles east of the Mississippi River have become a living classroom for the wider La Crosse community. The activity is the result of the Franciscan sisters' decision to dedicate this land, where a farm once operated, to continue benefiting the sisters and the surrounding community, albeit in new ways.
Read more about two congregations of Franciscan sisters who have preserved acres of their respective lands by establishing conservation easements.
The importance of the land extends beyond sisters' relationship with their property as spiritual or working centers, with several congregations entering into land preservation agreements.
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"In my decadeslong career in Catholic journalism, it seems there are some stories I've had to write or edit over and over: ones about sexual abuse or assault, or about conflict between a progressive parish and its young conservative priest, or about a school or other Catholic organization firing an LGBT employee," says NCR executive editor Heidi Schlumpf in her latest column.
So when Schlumpf's sister texted her with the news that the Catholic high school her three children had attended had rescinded a job offer to a lacrosse coach after the woman put her wife down as her emergency contact, Schlumpf was hardly surprised.
"Happens all the time," Schlumpf told her sister. But what doesn't happen all the time is that the school, Benet Academy in suburban Chicago, reversed its decision and again offered the coaching job to Amanda Kammes, who accepted it.
The Rockville Centre Diocese's decision to remove Passionist Fr. Edward Beck from his posting at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, New York, has led his religious order to end its association with the parish. Read more of this story here.
ICYMI: Pope Francis will not be attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, as he had hoped. The Vatican said the Holy See delegation for the COP26 summit Oct. 31-Nov. 12 would be led instead by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.