Leslie Porreca, RSM 
Eco-Spirituality at Cranaleith

When driving onto Cranaleith's property, you will notice the expansive lawn and stately historic Victorian house. You may also find Leslie Porreca in the garden or tending her bee hives.

Leslie is a Sister of Mercy and licensed therapist. She also leads Cranaleith's Eco-Spirituality program. Leslie's work includes sustainability and permaculture activities such as recycling, composting, water conservation and buying local. With the assistance of staff and volunteers, she manages an expansive year-round garden featuring a variety of herbs and heirloom vegetables, beehives and a chicken coop. 

"Fresh and nourishing," are the words retreatants use to describe Leslie's garden-to-table meals. An in-house gift shop features honey and beeswax products from carefully tended hives. When not in the kitchen serving conference groups, Leslie leads day and overnight retreats ranging from gardening and cooking classes to reflective and meditative retreats in nature that encourage participants to deepen their awareness of their connection to the earth. She also works with under-served populations through a partnership with local behavioral health and recovery organizations. Clients garden alongside Leslie and volunteers from the community in an eco-therapy program.

Research has found that spending time in nature is a powerful stress-reliever, lowers blood pressure and reduces depression. "We believe that earth care and human care are linked," says Leslie. Cranaleith is open to everyone to enjoy and we invite you to come for a visit and learn what makes us such a special place."

Green & Sustainable Initiatives 

At Cranaleith Spiritual Center, we are committed to extending Mercy hospitality to all who come here and to caring for this corner of creation which has been entrusted to us. Our vision ensures that visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of this place for years to come.  Here are some of the ways we are working to sustain and nourish Cranaleith.

  • We source food locally whenever possible. Many meals are made from scratch, including salad dressings and sauces. This allows us to make only what is needed and eliminate waste.
  • We serve fair-trade coffee, tea and sugar.
  • Uneaten meals are given to those in need.
  • We have decreased our use of disposable products by using mostly real plates, glasses and mugs. When necessary, we use compostable paper products.
  • Raw food waste is recycled into a compost pile that is used in our gardens and flower beds or fed to our chickens.

  • We recycle plastics, paper products, aluminum, tin cans, glass and cardboard and we participate in Philacycle
  • Light bulbs have been switched from incandescent to CFL .
  • Flower clippings, spent annuals, previous year's perennials and leaves are added to the compost mix.
  • We use companion planting techniques and invite beneficial insects for pollination and pest control.
  • We use non genetically modified heirloom organic seeds and use energy efficient planting techniques such as spiral and keyhole gardening.
  • Many or our trees are native and selected to be beneficial to humans, birds and animals.
  • Chemicals are used sparingly on the grounds. Organic insecticides, like neem oil, are generally used.
  • Rain barrels are used to conserve water.

Upcoming Programs Spring 2018

Cooking Class: 
What's in Season, All About Greens
Wed., March 21, 5-8 p.m.
Presenter: Leslie Porreca, RSM
Master Seminar: The Dynamics of Leadership, Planning and Change in Faith-Based Organizations
Tues.-Wed., May 1-2
Facilitators: Marisa Guerin, PhD
Courageous Truth-Telling: Giving Performance Feedback
Thurs., April 5, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m
Facilitators: Marisa Guerin, PhD and Karol M. Wasylyshyn, PsyD

Re-Imaging Your Life for Women 
Thurs.-Fri.,May 3-4
Facilitators: Carole Cohn, MEd and Jean Hurd, PhD
Engaging the Human Spirit of Enterprise
Wed., April 11, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 
Facilitator: Stephen Hart, MS and Mary Trainer, RSM
Shift Report: Ethics and End-of-Life Care
Thursday, May 10, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Facilitator: Patricia Talone, RSM, PhD

Day of Respite for Female Veterans
Sat., April 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Presenter: Cathy Maguire, RSM

The Feminine Face of God
Sat., May 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Presenter: Honora Nicholson, RSM

Poetry as Prayer
Sat., April 21, 1-4 p.m.
Presenter: Renee Yann, RSM

Women's Spirituality
Mon., May 21, 2018, 5-9 p.m 
Presenter: Mary Anne Nolan, RSM

From Our Kitchen 

3 Tbs chickpea flour
3 Tbsp flaxseed
¼ Tbsp salt
pinch of ground black pepper
pinch of onion powder or garlic powder (optional)
½ cup water
1 medium onion
½ cup of kale
fresh herbs (dill, spring onions  and basil)
2 Tbsp oil

Mix chickpea flour with salt and pepper. Add water and mix until batter is creamy. Saute thinly sliced onions, kale and chopped herbs until soft. Add to the batter. Heat oil in a small pan. Scoop all the batter into pan and spread it out with a spoon so you have a nice round omelet. Cook for a few minutes (don't cover the pan with a lid). Flip omelet over (use a thin spatula) and cook until set. Cool before serving.   

Photo Gallery 

Leslie Porreca, RSM, is not only talented in the kitchen and garden but she is also an accomplished photographer. Check out her photos here. You can also find a selection of these on cards and photographs in our Gift Shop.


Within the grip of winter, it is almost impossible to imagine the spring. The gray perished landscape is shorn of color. Only bleakness meets the eye; everything seems severe and edged.  Winter is the oldest season; it has some quality of the absolute. Yet beneath the surface of winter, the miracle of spring is already in preparation; the cold is relenting; seeds are wakening up. Colors are beginning to imagine how they will return.  Then, imperceptibly, somewhere one bud opens and the symphony of renewal is no longer reversible. From the black heart of winter a miraculous, breathing plenitude of color emerges.
The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual slow beat always inching its way forward; change remains faithful to itself until the new unfolds in the full confidence of  true arrival. Because nothing is abrupt, the beginning of spring nearly always catches  us unawares. It is there before we see it; and then we can look nowhere without seeing it. --From  "Thresholds" by  John O'Donohue, Celtic Wisdom

Calling All Volunteers: It's Spring!
Volunteer, David Nuessle
T he time is now. Seeds are being sown for the start of this year's garden. You can  participate in our Garden Days every Thursday, (weather permitting) starting  on  April 26! Help us by preparing our garden beds for planting and  other tasks.  

Join as a volunteer and:
  • Learn about organic gardening and get invitations to future garden events
  • Reap the benefits by sharing in our harvest lunch
  • Work with our eco-therapy clients from area nonprofits
  • Experience the sheer joy of being with others and playing in the dirt!
  Contact Danielle Gagnon at gdagnon@cranaleith.org  or 215-934-6206.
Thank you and we hope to see you in the garden!


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Cranaleith Spiritual Center | 13475 Proctor Road | Philadelphia, PA 19116 |