In June 2018, I visited with the green team of the Sisters of St. Benedict at the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Indiana. Sister Mary Lee Hillenbrand who first came to the convent in the late 1950’s is an avid member of the monastery’s green team and my tour guide. Sister Mary Lee invited me to Noon chapel, a midday service of psalms and prayers and meditation and a tour of the monastery and grounds.
Recycling, LEDs and Gardens
The Sisters are very proud of their recycling efforts and their gardens. Recently they had a speaker from DuBois County come to talk about what is allowed in their recycling as different counties accept different items. Recycling is limited to what DuBois County can accept. DuBois County accepts number 1 and 2 plastics as well as “soft plastic” like dry cleaner bags as well as paper, cardboard, and glass. The monastery collects and sells the aluminum such as tin foil and cans. They used to use Styrofoam, but no longer are ordering it. Meals are served on china plates and real glasses and silverware.
Many of the light have been replaced with LED’s and many of the windows are new and energy efficient. They are interested in continuing to reduce energy costs and exploring solar. With a large facility and a number of old and historic buildings, the green team has been discussing where and how to continue to reduce energy costs.
The Sisters compost, separating the compostable and not compostable food in the kitchen and as they clear the tables and scrape their dishes. The compost is used in the garden. Their garden has an asparagus bed, beets, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. It also has beds of zinnias and sunflowers. The flowers and food are used by the Sisters. Nearby farmers also donate food to the sisters for their meals.
In the bakery, I met Sister Jean Marie Ballard who is also a member of the green team. I enjoyed a tour of the bakery. I watched them making the German cookies such as the Springerle, a cookie made with a press with an anise flavor that I used to make as a child with my great aunt. Cookies may be ordered online or purchased in the gift shop. Click Here for Online Ordering
This is a large and beautiful facility with many buildings and large grounds Tours are available of the buildings. Visitors can also tour the grounds and visit the gift shop. There is a brewery on site.
Coal to Diesel in Dale
The Sisters were also concerned about the proposed Coal to Diesel plant in nearby Dale. The smell would be quite strong and detrimental to the air quality of the monastery as well as schools and all those living in the area.
Thank you to all the Sisters for their efforts.