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Youth from St. Peter Church in Charlotte who are preparing for Confirmation, along with adult volunteers, planted trees on Oct. 5 with TreesCharlotte at JM Robinson Middle School. The day before, Pope Francis planted a tree in the Vatican gardens alongside indigenous leaders from the Amazon region. The symbolic and practical gesture of planting trees renews God’s creation.

The young men and women helped plant 300 trees to increase the canopy of Charlotte’s urban forest. “Tree planting is an act of faith, hope, and love uniting the forces of earth, humanity, and all creation – ‘to the greater glory of God.’ In Confirmation, our young people are in an important stage of their faith journey and TreesCharlotte gives them the opportunity to put their faith into action by being a co-creator of God’s kingdom on earth,” said Cathy Chiappetta, Director of Faith Formation at St. Peter.

Sawyer Stallings and her mother Jennifer named each of the trees they planted and plan to revisit them someday to see the growth and shade they provide. “I want to make sure the trees are standing straight and grow healthy,” said Sawyer. Another student commented, “This Sunday we hear the Gospel about the Mustard Seed and our how our faith can grow so much larger. It is like we are planting our faith and nurturing it to give to others.”

The rejuvenation of the tree canopy is even more important in Charlotte because of the impact of growth and development in the region. TreesCharlotte selects tree species for particular areas. One of their primary focus areas is planting in underserved communities and school yards. These areas benefit from tree plantings by engaging students in educational lessons, creating neighborhood bonding experiences and developing “ownership” of the care and sustainability of their trees. This year, the volunteers planted Eastern red bud, Magnolia, Plum and Crepe Myrtle, among other species.

The Confirmation students will be able to see the benefits of their good work in years to come. St. Peter provides service learning projects throughout the year so that their young parishioners realize the service of faith and the promotion of justice.

Click here to learn more about Charlotte’s urban forest.