Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #115: The Sisters of St. Joseph - and where our money lives and works

April 13, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
On Easter Monday, the Financial Times carried a headline that gave me pause: “Nuns urge citigroup to rethink financing of fossil fuel projects”. The foto underneath the headline - while looking cool and pink - is somewhat misleading; it does depict protesters looking to point to Citibank’s investment portfolio - but while clad in pink they are associated with Extinction Rebellion and not with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace who were featured in the article. The article did make me wonder: Who are these nuns - that they would make a Financial Times headline - and what is it that we are doing with our own money? 
Firstly, I found an Anglican connection: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, while being a catholic order, were founded in 1884 by Margaret Anna Cusack - known also as Sister Francis - who was raised in the Anglican church and only later, in 1858, converted to Catholicism.  Apparently an “independent and controversial thinker”, Sister Francis was also a passionate Irish nationalist and seemingly often at odds with the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Her independent thinking seems to have been maintained by the order throughout the last 130+ years: With locations in the UK, the US, and Haiti, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace find themselves called to practice “radical hospitality, nonviolence and care of the creation”, resulting in a commitment to social and environmental justice that involves them in initiatives ranging from what they call peace ministries - serving poor or disadvantaged communities - to very practical advocacy. And here is the link to the FT article: The sisters own shares in Citigroup (and probably other corporations and banks, I would presume) and - two weeks ahead of the bank’s annual meetings - had filed a resolution calling on the board to “report on what it was doing to protect indigenous rights affected by its project and corporate financing decisions”, noting that the bank had “provided over $5bn” to companies that enabled controversial oil pipelines in North America”.
Foto: They don't really look like revolutionaries, but the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace are committed to "radical hospiality, nonviolence and care of the creation", and they are taking their commitment to the streets and into shareholder activism. Their spirituality and prayers are also worthwhile checking out.    
Shareholder activism - including with the intent to get commercial banks to decarbonize their investment or lending portfolios - is nothing new: In fact, many sustainability-focused organizations have begun exercising their voting rights to steer companies towards actions on climate mitigation and adaptation, a course of action considered by many in the industry to be an effective ways for investors to support environmental and social change. Research shows that it can be a potent threat to companies, and in fact in the financial sector the Net Zero  Banking Alliance has been formed to already go ahead, examine and reduce if not eliminate what is called financed emissions, which means they work with the clients they lend money to or invest in to account for their carbon footprint, help them reduce it, or even divest.
Sofar so good - but what about us? About myself? The focused activism of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace made me ask myself: What is it that I am doing with my own money?  Where does the money go, where does it work? Well, no big drama here - I am banking with the Raiffeisen Bank Wien, all seemingly very local and even somewhat green: On their website, they advertise loans to finance things such as installing solar panels. Why did I choose Raiffeisen Bank in the first place? Simple: Their office was across the street from my office when I first moved to Vienna. But looking into Austrian banks’ performance along sustainability criteria offers another perspective. An independent assessment conducted by the Austrian NGOs Protect our Winters found in 2021 that none of the 13 Austrian Banks they reviewed can be considered a top performer in terms of sustainability; in their view only a small eco-Bank - the Umweltcenter Gunskrichen - was ahead of the game (“Vorreiter”), while all the others were considered merely average, including my own Bank Raiffeisen Bank Vienna. Global 2000, another great NGO here in Vienna, conducted a similar assessment and came to the same conclusion - their Banken Check 2021 is an interesting read and helps learn about what we can and maybe should expect from our banks here in Austria. As it were, Christ Church Vienna's main bank is Bank Austria, #2 on the list - close to the top - comforting to know!
So should we become shareholder activists - like the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace in New York? Certainly I myself will need to reconsider banking with Raiffeisen - only through the reports about the record profits they made by continuing to operate in Russia have I learned about the role the bank plays in financing Austrian gas imports. Well, someone has to do it, one might think - if only because Austria has decided to remain dependent on Russian gas. The ECB seems to think otherwise. Arguably, it’s a complex topic. But wherever you come out in your own considerations: The work and commitment of Sisters of St. John of Peace gives us all something to think about.
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Blog #114: God’s Creation on Easter - in our very own Easter Garden

April 6, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
“Our kid’s church has prepared a beautiful Easter Garden”, Patrick announced proudly and with a big smile at the end of last Sunday’s service, but because I was participating via video while traveling for work I could not actually go and check out what he meant. Back in town on Monday, my first trip was to Jaurésgasse 12, and indeed there it was, the kids’ Easter Garden: In a small corner of our church yard, surrounded by beautiful stones, and sporting yellow, white and purple flowers, seemingly winter-proof and withstanding the low temperatures we have this week
What a great way to connect with the mysteries of Easter - building your very own little garden! And even though I have now been with Christ Church for over six years, I must admit that I never noticed that this is what our kids’ church has been doing here every Easter, shame on me! As it were, we are not alone: Many churches in the Anglican tradition regularly build temporarily what one might also call a Resurrection Garden - a place in nature that adds a visual dimension to the Easter liturgy - often a grand affair, with peat, flowerbeds, “hedges” and so on, typically built on or before Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and removed only after the end of the Easter Week or many days later, sometimes kept even throughout Pentecost. Here at Christ Church Vienna, our kids’ church is in charge - and they will add three crosses to their arrangements on Friday, and a tomb, complete with a stone that closes it, on Friday night.
Foto: The kids at Christ Church have built a beautiful little Easter Garden - check it out, it's in the Church Yard. .   
Flowers are a part of God’s Creation that Christians have used for centuries to express sentiments of faith - praise and joy, as much as reverence and adoration, or mourning and sadness. I presume, for the longest of times, flowers were what brought color into people’s lives - even though the cave paintings and ancient jewelries that archeologists have dug up over the years tell a vivid story of how also minerals were part of the coloring kits used early on to decorate faces, surfaces, and sometimes even animals. More so than pictures though, flowers seem to be cheering us up for reasons other than just their colors. They bow their little heads towards the sun, they hunker down and try to protect their vulnerable buds and blooms from wind and snow, and they offer food to insects of all kinds - including, of course, my so very favorite honey bees. And as such they inspire poets and song writers - as much as the faithful, as they do now, through our very own and ever so beautiful Easter Garden.
The central role of flowers in Christian faith is something that often seems forgotten - unless, of course, you are part of the Altar Guild or whatever a parish may call the team concerned with decorating the church in just the right way throughout the year. Certain flowers have specific liturgical roles and meanings - like the white lilies or the daisies for Easter - reminding us that we are not at the center of the cosmic picture (Psalm 103: 15): “As for mortals, their days are like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field”. In fact, has not Jesus asked us to be more like the lilies of the field who do not labor or spin but enjoy God’s glory and care - noting that “not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these”.
The flowers that the kids’ church team chose so thoughtfully for the Easter Garden tell even more stories: The yellow ones are called Himmelschlüssel - which translates as Key to Heaven, even though their proper name in English is a bit more prosaic: Cowslips. Part of the primrose family, they smell sweetly, are under protection when found in the wild and should therefore not be picked - but the domesticated version’s blooms can actually be used to color Easter eggs! The purple ones are Blaukissen or Aubretia in English, chosen for the rich symbolism of their color, representing wisdom, strength, transformation, power, and royalty. And then there are the white ones, the Gänsekresse or Rock Cress, and the Schleifenblume, in English Iberis or candytuft, representing innocence and - as part of the Kreuzblütler or cruciferous family  - in name and shape a good reminder of the role of the cross in the Easter liturgy. Needless to say: All of them offer great nutritional experiences for bees and other insects!
So as you go through the Easter liturgy these days, on today’s Maundy Thursday, tomorrow’s Good Friday, Saturday’s Easter vigil and Sunday’s Easter celebration, do take a moment to stop by at our beautiful Easter Garden, celebrate and give thanks for God’s creation, and take the flowers’ inspiration with you, as you walk into the coming days ...
This Blog benefited from input from Karin Ifeagwu and Lucille Curran from the Kids’ Church team.  Feeling inspired? Want to contribute? Remark on or question something? Please send thoughts about or suggestions for the Living Light Blog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blog #113: It's soooo delicious!

March 30, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
Yes, I know, we are still squarely inside the lenten period - and a blog about food, specifically when it is sooo delicious, might not quite seem to be the most obvious choice for today. However, Easter is around the corner and many of you will want to start preparing for the festivities this weekend, getting your box with Easter decorations down from the attic  or up from the cellar, shopping for flowers and Waidkaetzchen (willow pussies), and thinking about which sweets to buy for whom. Because sweet they are, our Easter delights, coming to us courtesy of a very prolific food industry that gets us to buy chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate lambs, chocolate, ducklings, and so on. Anything really that looks like a symbol of Easter, of spring and new beginnings is already on the supermarket shelves - made from chocolate or other sugary materials
Are you up for a novelty?  One that also can introduce you to the world of fully-vegan food, while at the same time being extraordinarily delicious?  If so, then you should get into town and direct your steps towards Schwedenplatz, there cross the Donaukanal taking Marienbruecke, right where the two-city liner stops, and find Dulceria, the new and sofar only fully vegan chocolaterie here in Vienna on Lilienbrunngasse 5/1A.  Just opened by a young Chocolatier, the story of Dulceria and her owner is as extraordinary as are the pralines and Easter-specials you will find there. And no, I am not exaggerating. I am a bit of an arrogant chocolate afficionado myself, rarely but selectively affording myself the occasional delight from Leonidas, Neuhaus or Wittamer, or the Swiss variations, such as Läderach or Lindt. Yet I was stunned when I tried Dulceria’s delights this week (maybe I should not have, it’s lent after all, but the Blog had to be written ;-)).  I simply have never had such extraordinarily delicious pralines (maybe with the exception of Niederegger Marzipan, but marzipan is a different terrain).
Foto: They even look not just delicious but extraordinary - check out the Pralines in the new fully vegan Chocolate store Dulceria, across the bridge from Schwedenplatz..   
Double Caramel, Ginger Gin, Strawberry Nougat, White Chocolate Pumpkin, Espresso Shot, Lime Passionfruit, Peanutbutter&Jelly - just reading the names of some of the Dulceria’s pralines is mouth-watering - and having tasted all of them over the last few days, I can’t even figure out which ones I like best. These delicious treats are as tasteful as they are unusual, and in fact unique, not just here in Vienna. Why unique? Well, Dulceria is not only the only fully vegan Chocolaterie in our beautiful town - but each of the pralines’ fillings has just been designed by the young owner, twenthysomething Manuela Torres. She spends weeks figuring out just the perfect mix, considering taste, consistency, the interaction between the filling’s taste and the chocolate’s taste and feel, but also longevity and ingredients. Then the pralines are produced freshly, right in the chocolate kitchen behind the store. Ingredients are sourced carefully, not just for being vegan but also for being produced sustainably and fairly. Manuela’s cocoa, for example, comes from Callebaut, a Belgian importer of chocolate who is able to trace each palette of cocoa back to the farm it comes from, guaranteeing proper working conditions and sustainable farming practices.
How did Manuela come to open up a fully vegan Chocolaterie? A Vienna girl with Argentinian heritage, she grew up on Latin as well as Viennese staples - both of which are rather on the meaty side. Six years ago, having learned about the impact that non-plant food choices have on the environment, she decided to go All-Vegan - and never looked back. If you enjoy cooking, you will love the vegan cuisine, she says, the variety is incredible and you end up finding out about more tastes than you knew existed. A passionate cook and baker from a young age, opening up a Chocolaterie had been Manuela’s dream for many years - but the Corona Lock-down was the instigating factor. Limited to her home for days and weeks, Manuela began thinking up chocolate recipes. She took online classes on all things to do with chocolate, learned about the legal and logistical sides of setting up a food business in Austria, and she began to experiment. She connected with James Parsons, a celebrity-cook turned chocolatier who has cooked, among others, for the former Prince Charles. From him she learned a lot about shapes, decorative looks, and also how to combine otherwise distinctive tastes with each other to create a novel experience. And she decided to offer Vienna something new: A fully-vegan chocolate experience. Her persistence and grit got her to not only create a new suite of chocolate experiences and to master the business requirements it took to open a store - but also to convince the Innung der Konditoren in Wien, the mighty professional board that had to approve her products and offer her the license to sell confectionary. Once they tried my pralines, they were convinced, Manuela recalls the process with a smile.
What’s the big deal, you may be thinking, so there is a new chocolate store in town, why should I care? Why does it matter to the Living Light blog? Most of you will know that eating partially or fully vegan - consuming only plant-based food - is a choice that keeps our footprint on planetary resources small. In fact, as populations grow and as we consume more and more, a vegan diet may well be the future for many of us. Why? It’s a simple calculus: Food produced from or cooked based on nothing but plants requires less water and energy per calorie - both, when you just consider the process of creating food and when considering the environmental footprint of transportation and storage. Yet, vegan food is often mocked - for not being enjoyable or being eaten for supposedly moral rather than culinary reasons. Well, now we have the antidote to such prejudices, right here in Vienna in the 2nd District. And whether or not you believe the future is vegan (as I tend to do) - you may as well enjoy this particular version of it, perhaps even starting this Easter.  Want to check it out?
Feeling inspired? Want to contribute? Remark on or question something? Please send thoughts about or suggestions for the Living Light Blog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blog #112: Spring is in the Air!

March 23, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
The air is warm and balmy, and today I left my shawl and gloves at home for the first time this year: Spring is in the air! Three days ago, on March 20, the annual season of color, flowers, and hope started officially, and in line with the calendar, temperatures this week have gone up to 21 C. Yes, next week there will be a chilly spell, but if anything, the flowers tell us what’s going on: The Snowdrops have been out for some time, crocuses have followed, and I even saw a first daffodil earlier this week. And just in case you were wondering: The LivingLight Blog - meant to bring you news and tid-bits about matters relating to the environment, thoughts on how we can all lessen the burden our lifestyles pose on our planet, and ideas when to get active, what to support, and where to direct our prayers in protection of creation - will bring you no concerns or alarm this week, just praise and joy
Spring is the time to enjoy God’s creation, and whether you live in a small flat or a big house (or a big flat or a small house), Vienna holds ample opportunities to enjoy watching trees, plants, and flowers as they start to bud, grow, and bloom.  Public Greens - Grünflächen - make up one third of Vienna, and in fact the city administration claims that two thirds of the Viennese live 250 meters or less away from a Public Green. In fact, I was amused to read this morning that - if all Viennese would go to their nearest Green at the same time - each of us would still have 5 square meters for ourselves. That’s not counting the tourists, of course - they have started flocking to town in larger groups earlier this month; Vienna expects about a million or more tourists each month, great for the economy but perhaps not so much for our Public Greens.  Luckily, from what I can tell, they don’t all know about the joys of walking in the Prater, the Augarten, the Stadtpark, or most of the other beautiful places we tend to go to enjoy urban outdoors.
Foto: The first Daffodils are out, along with many other joys of nature in these early spring days. Let's celebrate this week's beginning of spring with a walk of appreciation, choose any park or Public Green, below are a few recommendations.   
Amongst the special places you want to check out to enjoy flowers this spring are the Blumengärten Hirschstetten -  a combination of U1 or U2 with a tram or bus will take you there within 30+ minutes from downtown. There is also a little zoo and a Museum about the history of Gardening in Austria.  If not the Blumengärten, then maybe the Türkenschanzpark is more to your liking or logistically closer to where you live; the U4 plus the 10A Bus or the 37A Bus will tak you there in under 40 minutes from downtown Vienna. 150,000 square meters - the equivalent of 22 soccer fields - are waiting for you here, complete with lawns, flowers, plants, and trees, many of them rare or seldomly seen plants from China, Japan and North America, plus sports facilities and various little ponds. In fact, if you enjoy checking out rare species, do include the Botanical Gardens into your list of places to go to enjoy spring this year.  And, of course, don’t forget to put Saturday, April 29 into your calendar - at 10 am that morning, just a few weeks from now, you are all invited to join us for a guided walk in these most special of gardens that are so close to our church and so full of wonders.
But what to do with all this beauty around ourselves, with the joy in our hearts, the sense of cheer and happiness inspired by the colors of spring? Prayer is a great place to turn to - prayers of gratitude and appreciation.  The Book of Common Prayer has a several prayers of thanksgiving to choose from, and sometimes I go there. One of my favorite and a bit more secular resources is Help, Thanks, Wow, a little book by Annie Lammot, a US based author. “Wow is the praise prayer”, Anne Lammot says. “You say it when you see the fjords for the first time at dawn, or you say it when you first see the new baby, and you say ‘Wow. This is great’. Wow is the prayer of wonder”.  So - for me - spring is full of heartfelt Wows.
And then there is music and poetry - with great resources to turn to when looking for ways to express our feeling of praise. Many of the church songs that we like to sing to express praise and gratitude are not sung during lent - so let’s not go there for now. But do let me share with you a the first set of verses of a beautiful little poem I found - by William WordsworthI wandered lonely as a cloud.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
So let’s take some time to walk across Vienna these days - to enjoy God’s creation and its beauty, and to take a moment for Wow! - for praise and thanks!
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