Although it is winter, it is growing season at a sugar kelp hatchery at St. Joseph Retreat House in Hampton Bays, where a group of Shinnecock women (and Sister of St. Joseph Kerry Handal) are currently nurturing small spores of seaweed to plant in the Bay to help restore the health of the waters.

On the Feast of the Epiphany, at the invitation of the Tribal Kelp Farmers, a few Amityville Dominicans and Sisters of St. Joseph were asked to participate in a Kind Words Ritual. Participants recited poetry, proclaimed Scripture, joined in prayer and spoke kind words to the very small guest of honor: spores of kelp.

“When we started our hatchery, we were doing a lot of research for ways to give our kelp the best start in life to grow strong,” said Tribe Member Danielle Hopson-Begun. “The studies show that plants respond well to high-frequency tones.” In other words – tones from women. While caring for the kelp in the hatchery, members of the tribe have sung traditional songs and lullabies, read children’s books like Water Protectors and I sang You Down from the Stars. Sometimes they simply say, “Good morning” or “You are growing strong”.

Our Dominican Sisters including Diane Morgan, Margaret Galiardi, Irene Weiner, and Mary Anna Euring were happy to help. “I’ve been talking to my plants since I was a little girl when I inherited my mother’s green thumb,” admitted Sister Mary Anna who played the song O Great Spirit on her flute. “My prayer was for the growth of the seedlings as well as for blessings of peace, joy, and courage for the Shinnecock Women Farmers who continue to care for Mother Earth and Sister Water with their kelp farming. It certainly was a privilege to pray with these deeply spiritual women and support this project with prayerful intention.”

Sister Margaret Galiardi wrote a beautiful greeting for the spores who “are barely visible to our eyes,” calling them “Sister Kelp.” S. Margaret was honored to participate in this local effort to care for our earth. “This connects us to our Island home. We can be members of the Worldwide Order of Dominicans, but our feet are here on Long Island: This is our place.”