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Maryknoll Sisters Create Easement, Protecting Land from Future Development

Maryknoll Sisters show concern for environment by setting aside two-thirds of their property from future development. The property is home to much native woodlands and wetlands.

Maryknoll Sisters took a giant step forward in land preservation on April 23, 2012, when they signed a legal document with Westchester Land Trust setting aside nearly 43 acres of their 60-plus acred property at their Center in Ossining to be forever wild.

In keeping with the congregation’s pledge, expressed through its Land Ethics Statement, to protect the environment, and its desire, especially during its Centennial, as Maryknoll Sisters Environmental Office Co-Director Sister Doreen Longres said, to “live out (our) charism and the spirit of (our) congregation in the very place where (we) were founded”, the easement, which contains both native woodlands and wetlands, will be safeguarded by the WLT, who will annually visit the Sisters and inspect the grounds to insure it is protected.

For Maryknoll Sisters, the agreement is “more than a legal agreement,” said Sister Janice McLaughlin, president of the congregation. “It is a sacred trust. As our Land Ethics statement says, ‘We believe that creation is a primary source of revelation of the Divine Presence. Earth is sacred, and the extinction of life forms and ecosystems through overuse and irresponsible exploitation is a destruction of
manifestations of the Divine Presence.’ So this (act) is a living out of our
document.”

WLT Executive Director Candace Schafer praised the Sisters for the action they were taking. “Conservation is an act of faith,” she told the approximately 200 Sisters gathered in their dining room for the signing. “How pleased we are to be with you and to memorialize forever the love and respect you have for the land that supports your community. In signing this conservation easement, you create the certainty that the surrounding 43 acres on your property will remain open space. As a land trust, WLT commits to monitoring this easement forever and to ensuring that your good intentions are carried out. We are honored to have your trust and will work to carry out your wishes.”

A celebration of the new agreement protecting more than 2/3 of the Maryknoll Sisters’ grounds from development will be held on Sunday, June 3, at 2:30 p.m. at the Center.

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