“Nature cannot be regarded as something separated
from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live.
We are a part of Nature.”
This quote from Laudato Si (139) has much meaning as the Sisters began to realize that part of their legacy is the beautiful land that they have called home for more than 90 years. They have become as much a part of the landscape as the towering oaks or the magnificent maples.
Many of our Sisters have walked or maybe even forged trails through the woods, spending time in quiet reflection and prayer. It truly is a sacred place for many — not only for the Sisters and their families and friends, but for all those who walk the campus or enjoy the beauty and serenity of the woods. Many who come comment on the peacefulness of the land. One said, “As soon as I drive onto the property, I feel the peace and presence of God.” Another who was here to work on the construction of the new addition, asked “What is this place? I knew when I drove on to the property it was sacred.”
Long conversations around legacy and planning had been going on for several years. As the Congregation began to take a closer look at their legacy and what they needed to do to prepare for the future, they realized they needed a plan for the land. Conversations and dialogues, along with some wild ideas, started to get the ball rolling. Within a few months, those discussions brought the community to a place where they could look at the whole picture. The first step was affirming their Land Ethic, which they used as a tool to make decisions regarding the property. One of the principles states, “We know that from the smallest particle to the most complex of creatures, all creation is a gift that God has entrusted to us to protect and nourish. We cherish this land as a sacrament of God’s love…” This principle guided their decision to consider putting the majority of the woods and prairie into conservation. There had been a few acres in the Department of Agriculture’s conservation and wildlife habit program, CRP, for a few years. The CRP was used as a way to move from farming the land to the idea of selling the land to Acres Land Trust. In working with Acres, it became very clear that our Land Ethic and Acres’ mission statements were very much in line. So the sale of the land, which we hope will be completed by the end of 2016, seemed like the direction we should take. As part of the sale, the Sisters were able to recommend the name for the property. The name was decided to be “Victory Noll Acres,” combining the two entities in the name. Joining with Acres guarantees that future generations will continue to be able to enjoy the beauty of the land and experience God in the majestic maples and the towering oaks.