The following is an article from Fr. Tom Benz, SJ, provincial assistant for pastoral and international ministries for the USA East Province and Mr. Martin Carl, Principal, Xavier High School, Chuuk, FSM.
As with schools everywhere, it’s an unusual year at Xavier High School. in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. Pandemic travel restrictions make it impossible for students from other islands to be physically present, and the Chuukese students comprise only about one-third of the usual student population. Nevertheless, under principal Martin Carl, the small school community is trying to continue with as many “normal” activities as possible.
For a number of years one of the most popular student clubs at Xavier has been the Earth Council. The group got a special boost in 2015 with the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home. In honor of the letter’s fifth anniversary this year, Mr. Carl has given a new name to the club. It’s now called the Laudato Si’ Council.
During this current Season of Creation, Mr. Carl has also introduced a series of “Laudato Si’ Fridays” to be conducted for the campus community this year. The first was held on the morning of September 25. The program began and ended with videos on the pope’s worldwide call to “ecological citizenship.” In between, ten students spoke on how ten different local plant species benefit the human population. Then, after an Our Father and a Hail Mary, five teams spread out around the campus to plant bananas, coconut, taro, and a variety of flowers. The morning was punctuated with prayers composed by Pope Francis, and to complete the event Mr. Carl led the Xavier students and staff in an Ecology Examen. Lunch consisted of local fish and cooked bananas.
Far away in Rome, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development continues to promote this special Laudato Si’ anniversary year, which runs from May 24, 2020 to May 24, 2021. In the islands of the Western Pacific, Xavier High School is already well on board.