Paula González
Sister of Charity, Environmentalist (1932–2016)

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Paula González
Photograph provided by Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, OH

Paula González, who was born in Albuquerque, entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1954. After receiving a doctorate in biology, she went on to teach for many years at the College of Mount St. Joseph. A turning point in her life came when she saw the first photographs of Earth from outer space. It was the beginning of a new vocation in environmental ministry.  

In confronting the perils facing the earth, González realized it was not enough just to protest. It was necessary to demonstrate life-sustaining alternatives and to develop a new Earth-conscious spirituality. With the help of volunteers, using recycled materials, she converted an old chicken barn into a fully solar-powered and solar-heated house—“Casa del Sol”—which became her home. In 1995 she established EarthConnection, an environmental learning center on the grounds of her order’s motherhouse.  

At the same time, Sr. Paula tried to articulate a spirituality appropriate to our place in the cosmos. She spoke of God as “The Great Living One”—whose presence could be seen in all creation. Reflecting on the Our Father, she wrote, “When we proclaim God’s name as ‘hallowed’ (holy), do we recognize the echo of God’s name in the wonder all around us? Might God be calling us to be co-creators of a transformed earth, a heaven of peace and harmony?”  

She died on July 31, 2016.  

“‘Thy will be done’ has to be looked at in a new way: namely, that we maintain ecological community. In the end ecological kinship is the only valid way in which to pay homage to our Creator.”  

—Sr. Paula González 

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.