Congregation of Sisters Of St. Agnes Sign Document To Protect 233 Acres Till The End Of Time
On January 10, 2022, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA) signed a Conservation Easement Document, in partnership with Glacial Lakes Conservancy (GLC), protecting 233 acres of Earth in perpetuity. CSA land, with its buildings, forests, prairies, wetlands, farm fields, cemetery, solar array, labyrinth, nature trails, and three stream channels running down the Niagara Escarpment will be protected from commercial development for all time.
A formal recognition of this milestone will occur on Earth Day, April 22, 2022. A small private ceremony with local officials, environmentalists, and other partners will be live streamed to the CSA YouTube channel at 1 p.m. CST. The general public is then invited to attend an outdoor ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. near the main entrance of the CSA property at 320 County Road K. The outdoor property will remain open to anyone who wishes to tour the grounds until dusk (access to restrooms will be available until 4:30 p.m.)
In 2017, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes voted to begin the process of preserving their property for future generations. Sister Jean Steffes, general superior of the congregation said, “Through this commitment we are living out the Care for Earth: Home of All Living Creatures corporate stance as well as our membership in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.” The Laudato Si’ Action Platform provides practical tools to address increasing risks of hunger, disease, migration, and conflict due to climate change and environmental degradation based on Pope Francis’ 2015 letter entitled Laudato Si’ – Care for our Common Home.
While the sisters will continue to serve as owners and caretakers of the land, GLC is entrusted with upholding the provisions of the easement. In recent months, sisters in Fond du Lac have partnered with staff from GLC to identify 19 wintering bird species on the property, from hawks to nuthatches to waxwings. These nature walks have also showcased the scenic vistas and wildlife habitats that are protected as part of the conservation easement.
Sister Susan Seeby, a general councilor for the congregation, said, “Considering our Mission Statement, we may say that this conservancy, too, will bring about a manifestation of the risen Christ in our world for those who take the time to come and see the prairies, the wetlands, and the woods teeming with life. The Conservation Easement journey has had many steps, and each of us in CSA has participated along the way. From the careful environmental considerations during the construction of the motherhouse in 2000, to the building of hermitages, planting and maintenance of prairies and woods throughout the years, gardening in the raised beds, even to the choice to offer a ‘green burial’ and the generosity of spirit of those who choose them.” In 2022, the sisters also completed the transition to 100% solar energy production on the motherhouse grounds.
As Father Caspar Rehrl, one of the founders of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, traversed the land east of Lake Winnebago, he came across seven springs and blessed them with his holy water. Later he wrote, “Oh, how I wish that the Sisters of St. Agnes might someday live on this beautiful tract of land watered by these prolific springs.” In 2002, the congregation fulfilled his vision and opened their current motherhouse on the land which had been used as St. Joseph Springs Farm. CSA is grateful to pray, study, minister, and live in community on this holy ground. We commit to being good stewards of the land and collaborating with First Nation People today on issues that impact our common home and the common good.
CSA property is privately owned. Our solar site is open for public viewing any day of the week from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. We request that visitors stop at the main entrance to sign-in or call 920-907-2300 prior to touring the array. Tours of the remaining portions of our conservation easement must be scheduled in advance.