Holy Wisdom Monastery partners with Dane County on Care for the Earth efforts

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman Care for the Earth Leave a Comment

video clip spreading seed 5 for web

Sister Mary David Walgenbach demonstrates the prairie seed-sowing technique used in the Wisdom Prairie Project.

Holy Wisdom Monastery is pleased to share that its partnership with Dane County is growing. County Executive Joe Parisi joined us on Thursday, July 18 for a press conference to share the news that the county intends to buy a 60-acre portion of the sisters’ prairie so that it can remain in prairie into perpetuity. Prairie helps reduce the amount of run-off of pollutants (especially phosphorous) that would otherwise end up in Madison’s lakes. Dane County Supervisor Sharon Corrigan introduced a resolution at last night’s county board meeting to purchase this 60 acre parcel.

All of these efforts are part of the Wisdom Prairie Project, an effort to continue to restore land on the north side of Lake Mendota to prairie, part of the care for the earth ministries of the sisters. More information on the Wisdom Prairie Project will be coming soon!

Read about this announcement in the Wisconsin State Journal

Watch the entire press conference on YouTube (10.5 minute video)

What follows are the comments that Mary David Walgenbach, OSB, prioress of the Benedictine Women of Madison, offered at the press conference today:

Good Morning and welcome. It is my privilege to extend to you the greetings and hospitality of the sisters, our co-workers, volunteers and donors. I am Sister Mary David Walgenbach, Prioress of Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Thank you for coming and a special thanks to those who have worked with me to make this announcement possible: Neal Smith, Laura Guyer, Paul Boutwell, Gail Shea, Stefanie Brouwer, Dick Wagner, Bill Preboski, Greg Armstrong and Mike Sweitzer-Beckman.

 I am pleased that Holy Wisdom Monastery and Dane County are in partnership for caring for this significant piece of land. Prairie, as you well know, is a natural filter for our lakes. Over 200 acres drain through our prairie into Lake Mendota.

Caring for the land comes from our 1,500 year-old Benedictine tradition of emphasizing environmental stewardship and sustainability. The Rule of Benedict prescribes how we are to care for the tools and goods of the monastery.  We extend this teaching to the land and buildings. Every day our spirituality calls us to wholeness in our human/earth relationships as we acknowledge our interdependence with all life communities.

In 1995 we began collecting seed from various established prairies to sow our first ten acres of prairie. ~ Now I’m from Iowa, and when we just scattered seed on the prairie here I said, “Oh my God, that will never grow! You have to harrow that in and do all these kinds of things.” Well, I learned a lot since then about prairie and about the marvelous way prairie grows. ~ The sisters and two neighbors scattered the seed.  Each year we collected seed and sowed another ten acres with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Today we have 95 acres in prairie and we will continue to restore more with your help.

We know we place our precious prairie in the trust-worthy hands of Dane County…like the hands of all who have carefully tended it through the years.

In conclusion, there are many doors to Holy Wisdom. They open out to many people by way of our shared values of prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth.  You are all welcome to come through one of those doors.

You, too, can help support our mission of care for the earth. Gifts can be made by sending a check to Benedictine Life Foundation, 4200 County Road M, Middleton WI 53562-2317. Gifts can also be made online.

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