Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Leonette Kochan shares on a recent Milwaukee Laudato Si Riverwalk.
Over the past several centuries the Milwaukee River has been seriously polluted, most recently in the last century, due to industrial waste. In the 1980’s and continuing today, great strides have been made to clean up the river. The River Walk was organized by John Kaufman, a Justice Circle and Third Order Secular member, as a show of support by Franciscans, for the river clean-up process.
In an effort to blend Franciscan justice efforts with younger generations, students from Mt. Calvary’s St. Lawrence Seminary and from St. Anthony Catholic School in Milwaukee were invited to join the walk. The group participating numbered 18 individuals, an inspiring group of youth and adults spanning several generations from various Secular Franciscan groups, a Capuchin from St. Lawrence, a teacher from St. Anthony’s and the Manitowoc Franciscans. Nora Pfeiffer, Director of the nation-wide Franciscan Justice Circles, traveled from Washington, DC to facilitate the event. Representing the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at the river walk were Sister Julie Ann Sheahan, Sister Catherine Peter Logan, Michelle Ozuna, and Sister Leonette Kochan, a member of the Justice Circle.
In addition to the actual walk along the river, John Kaufman provided educational detail about the river clean-up process and, along with Nora, led the group in spiritual reflection opportunities related to this event, Laudato Si and our Franciscan tradition of our relation to and care for Mother Earth. The resulting cross-generational sharing was inspiring and hope-filled.
“I (Pope Francis) believe that St. Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically…He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” (Laudato SI, # 10)