Genesis Farm, in Blairstown, N.J.
Angela Evancie
Genesis Farm, in Blairstown, N.J.

Every woman in this story is confoundingly non-descript. Short hair, often grey. Conservative dress. Unmarried; soft-spoken. Most are well into their 70s, and all will tell you that their way of life is dying out. They will also tell you, with surprising conviction, that the world is in peril.

They are Roman Catholic sisters, from a variety of orders -- Dominican, Mercy, Passionist -- but don’t think Whoopie Goldberg or a young Sally Field. While many of their aged peers are living out their days in quiet convents, these women are digging gardens and offsetting carbon. They’re as well-versed in solar and geothermal technology as they are in the Gospels of Luke and John, and some wear Carhartts and work boots like they’re habits. At the heart of the women’s action is a belief that the changing climate and world demand a new kind of vocation -- that Ave Marias won't cut it anymore, but maybe clean energy will. Called Green Sisters, or Sisters of Earth, they are pushing the bounds of their tradition toward a new, and deeply spiritual, kind of environmentalism.