Restoring native habitats on our own land and in the community resonates with many people living in and near Metchosin.  Saint Kateri Habitats and Parks Program, a Catholic initiative that started in New York State,  offers living, sacred spaces for people to engage directly in the care of God’s creation at home and in our local communities. By restoring habitats with reverence and gratitude for our Creator, the program draws people closer to God and his Church while protecting the integrity of creation.  Could these ideas guide our stewardship of our own property, and of the church property? The website is 

A central idea of Saint Kateri Habitats is to maintain a religious expression on the land to serve as a gentle reminder of God, of his presence everywhere and in everything, and of his transcendence (God surpasses in being and activity all other beings, and on whom all creatures depend). This religious element may be a cross, shrine, statue of Mary or a saint, or other Catholic religious symbol. Other faith groups are invited to participate as well.

Saint Kateri Habitats and Parks should provide at least two of the following elements, plus one religious expression, as follows:

  • Food, water, cover, and space for people and wildlife. This includes vegetable gardens, flower and pollinator gardens, patio gardens, community-supported agriculture, forests, farms, rivers, lakes, grasslands, and healthful and safe workplaces.
  • Native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers to promote biodiversity, such as milkweed and goldenrod for monarch butterflies. Some non-native plants are acceptable, as long as they are not invasive.
  • Ecosystem services, such as clean air and water, carbon storage for climate regulation, and the control of invasive species. Religious faith arising from interactions with the “Book of Nature” is an important ecosystem service.
  • Clean, renewable energy and sustainable practices for buildings and property, gardens, landscapes, and farms, such as energy conservation, waste reduction, solar energy, minimizing the use of pesticides, and using organic or no-phosphorus fertilizer.
  • Sacred and sacramental places for prayer and contemplation, such as Mary Gardens, prayer gardens, shrines, and rosary gardens. Any garden or habitat can be treated as sacramental by giving thanks to our Creator for his works and gifts.
Monarch butterflies

The religious expression may include crosses, shrines, grottos, stations of the cross, Saint Kateri Habitat signs, or statues of Mary, an angel, or a saint, such as Saint Kateri or Saint Francis of Assisi. This religious expression reminds us that God – the Holy Spirit – is present and active in every corner of creation. Every stone, every plant, every animal, exists in its own right and symbolizes some aspect of the divine.