Our Green Legacy

A history of caring for our environment


More than 100 years ago, two groups of sisters came to Northeast Wisconsin and built St. Elizabeth Hospital and Mercy Medical Center. Though from different religious organizations, the sisters had the same mission: to live out the healing ministry of Christ by providing services that promote the health and well-being of the communities we serve, especially the poor.

The sisters’ mission was the start of Affinity Health System’s green movement. The sisters relied on the responsible use of local resources to sustain the hospitals. From gathering fruits and vegetables in the hospital gardens to conserving kerosene for surgeries and procedures, our green movement is rooted in our religious heritage.

As we remember our heritage, the love of the earth, the value of it as a living gift of God in creation, we celebrate our part in our connection to the rootedness.

Let Us Pray
May you know the embrace of Earth.
May she teach you the wisdom of time:
the unfolding of Spring
the ripening of Summer
the turning of Autumn
the shedding of Winter.
May she teach you the wisdom of intimacy:
seed embraced by warm, dark soil
crevice traced by insistent stream
raindrop clinging to new, soft leaf
precious stones in hidden places.
May she teach you the wisdom of grace:
flowers entwining fallen oak
healing gifts of common "weeds"
grain for bread, fruit for wine
dancing stars through barren branches.
May you be known in Earth's embrace.

Blessing © Jan L. Richardson from Sacred Journeys janrichardson.com

Remembering St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan Order in the early 1200s. His attitude towards creation was simple and direct. He saw God in everything and loved and praised him in all creation. The realization that everything comes from the same source made him call all created things—no matter how insignificant—his brothers and sisters because they had the same origins as he.

For Francis the care of the environment was integrity of faith. To preach and proclaim God’s love meant that we needed to practice this in all ways. Francis believed that the way in which we interact with nature and creation is the way we interact with God.  This understanding of finding God in all things—the birds, creatures and the Earth—encourages us to be aware of treating creation as a relationship of nurturing versus a relationship in which the creation was something to be taken from without regard or responsibility.    

At Affinity we look to St. Francis and draw strength from his devotion to the Earth and its resources. We look to him for spiritual guidance in improving the care to our patients and to our environment.  

A statue of St. Francis in front of Cathedral Basilica. Photo courtesy of Deanna L. Nichols, dnicholsphotos.com.

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