Eighth Reflection

Jesuit Parishes Respond to Laudato Si

Inspired by Laudato Si’, Jesuit parishes across the East coast have engaged in prayer, education and action to preserve God’s creation and respond to climate change concerns. In an effort to enter into dialogue with Jesuit parishes about caring for our common home, the province compiled "A Jesuit Response to Laudato Si'" a document that features eco-spirituality program ideas from 11 Jesuit parishes from Portland, Maine, to Charlotte, N.C.  

Parishes shared pastoral initiatives, educational programs, artist expressions, activities and advocacy steps taken to promote ecological awareness and justice, along with a host of Catholic resources to help faith communities respond to the call of Laudato Si’. This parish survey initiative and production of the resource guide emerged out of an eco-spirituality working group convened by Fr. Ed Quinnan, SJ (Assistant for Pastoral Ministries), and Nick Napolitano (Assistant for Social Ministries). But the heavy lifting for this project came out of Holy Trinity Parish in Washington, D.C., through the efforts of Kate Tromble (Pastoral Associate for Social Justice) and parishioner Fran Dubrowski (director of environmental and art nonprofit Honoring the Future®).

This resource offers parishes a wide-range of practical and creative ideas to engage their faith community in Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical. Here’s a sample of some of the initiatives:

 
Pastoral Initiatives- 

  • St. Peter’s Charlotte incorporated ecology and global warming themes into Spiritual Exercises offered to parishioners
  • St. Ignatius Chestnut Hill incorporated Laudato Si’ into their faith formation program.  
  • Ss. Mary and Joseph offered a series of homilies focused on consumption and the drive to keep up with our neighbors/peers rather than working together to build a just and sustainable world for all.

Educational Programs- 

  • Our Lady of Hope and St. Alphonsus Rodriguez used their bulletins to educate parishioners on Laudato Si’, promoting energy conversation programs in the area and ways for parishioners to reduce carbon emissions, water use, and waste.
  • St. Peter’s Charlotte organized a four-part workshop on eco-spirituality with five local parishes.
  • St. Ignatius Baltimore partnered with a group of downtown parishes to host a series of talks entitled “The Cry of the Earth” exploring issues of climate change and the responsibility of Catholics in responding.
  • The Church of St. Francis Xavier sponsored a series of workshops calling on parishioners to make changes in their everyday life through Laudato Si’.

Ecology and the Arts- 

  • Holy Trinity parish organized a Climate Art and Action exhibition in the parish center, featuring climate-themed photographs and practical steps individuals can take to respond.
  • St. Ignatius Chestnut Hill had faith formation children write down commitments to protect the environment on colorful strips of paper and assembled that to create an “Earth Ball” displayed in the chapel.

Activities- 

  • Holy Trinity invited parishioners to participate in a Garden Challenge, creating new green spaces in their home or community.
  • Old St. Joseph’s had parishioners and soup kitchen guests create and maintain a vegetable garden that provides food for 60-70 community members who are hungry.  
  • St. Ignatius Baltimore created a parish Green Team to explore actions the parish can take to reduce waste, save energy and engage in legislative advocacy.  
  • The Church of St. Francis Xavier took back their taps, installing and blessing a new water fountain with a dedicated spout to fill reusable water bottles.  
  • St. Aedan’s and St. Alphonsus Rodriguez made energy efficient changes in the parishes, installing motion sensors on interior lights and sensors on exterior lamps.  
  • St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, St. Ignatius Chestnut Hill and St. Peter’s all took steps to recycle more, using recyclable products like compostable plates and cups and creating spaces for parishioners to recycle gently used books and furniture for low-income or formerly homeless community members.

Advocacy- 

  • The Church of St. Francis Xavier, Holy Trinity, and St. Ignatius Baltimore met with local and federal elected officials on environmental justice issues and collected signatures for postcards or petitions, including the Global Catholic Climate Movement petition to tackle climate change at the COP 21 international climate conference in Paris.


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