Inaugural Assisi Award in Colombia

(Cover photo- Left to Right: Father Hermann Borg, Fabrizio Frascaroli, Sister Joanne Kollasch, Sister Mary David Walgenbach).


The Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group (RCBWG), of the Society for Conservation Biology presented the inaugural Assisi Award, at the 28th International Congress of Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Holy Wisdom Monastery of Middleton, Wisconsin, USA, received the inaugural Assisi Award which acknowledges organizations and individuals, whose work demonstrates that faith-based conservation is contributing significantly to the common global effort of conserving life on Earth. Fabrizio Frascaroli, RCBWG president, said, “The Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology is truly delighted to present this award in Cartagena, in front of a diverse audience of conservation scientists, indigenous representatives and policy-makers.”

The Holy Wisdom Monastery is an ecumenical Benedictine community located near Madison, Wisconsin, with a mission to weave prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into a shared way of life. Their community setting includes restored prairie, a retreat and guest house and a ‘green’ monastery building.

Sister Mary David Walgenbach, prioress of Holy Wisdom Monastery, said, “The Sisters and the women and men who support the Holy Wisdom Monastery are deeply honored to receive the Assisi Award. The Sisters and Holy Wisdom Monastery inherit the 1500 year-old Benedictine tradition of caring for creation. This heritage is lived today in collaboration with environmentalists and scientists in our building, the highest rated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) nc 2.2 Platinum certified building in the U.S. Our Wisdom Prairie Project improves the water quality of Madison lakes, streams and wetlands.”

The Assisi Award recognizes initiatives from around the world conceived in the context of major world religions as well as indigenous spiritual traditions. Frascaroli said, “We hope the award will highlight how the drive to protect the biosphere is not the prerogative of a single philosophy, but rather stems from a variety of worldviews, values and knowledge systems.”

Another award went to Franciscan missionary, Fr. Hermann Borg, who received the SCB Distinguished Service Award for his exemplary work in Kenya, which showcases the true meaning of Stewardship,. Father Borg explained, “We started to plant trees in Subukia 30 years ago. We did not know what we would achieve, we just started to do it. These 1 million trees have now grown tall and have changed the climate and improved the livelihoods of the people.” Father Borg hopes that his efforts can contribute to inspiring others and spreading the message of the Holy Father concerning the environment. He commented, “As the Catholic Church is the most globally spread institution, we should not underestimate its potential for influencing people regarding the respect for nature. I think this is a realization of the teachings of Laudato Si’, which motivates so many local, regional and global actions.”

At the ICCB, the RCBWG hosted a number of sessions relevant to faiths and conservation that can be found on the RCBWG website. (Source: RCBWG Press Release).

Allen Ottaro - Catholic Youth Network For Environmental Sustainability In Africa (CYNESA)


Written by:

Allen Ottaro,

Founding Executive Director, CYNESA.


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