by MARK CIEMCIOCH
Mon, Apr 22 2019
As concern for the environment continues to be a talking point in the world, the celebration of Earth Day in April is one reminder that one of the most prominent Catholic social teachings is care for creation.
Pope Francis made it the topic of his encyclical Laudato Si, writing, “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”
“It’s critical for us to care for the environment because we need the environment,” said Sister Mary Jean Sliwinski, CSSF, provincial sustainability coordinator for the Felician Sisters. “We need the Earth on which to live on. It’s the basis of our faith.”
Sister Jean offered some tips on how Catholics can be better stewards of the environment, while also finding ways to open yourself up spiritually.
- Start your own garden, or create a community garden in the neighborhood, where you can grow your own fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Stop buying bottled water and fill your own containers with tap water. Install a faucet filter or use a water pitcher with a filter, and, along with a reusable water bottle, will help eliminate plastic waste.
- Spend more time walking and biking outside, which is not only good exercise, but keeps you more connected to your community and the environment. Leave the electronics at home, to continue filtering out the noise and distractions.
- Pick up litter when you see it.
- Take an online carbon footprint test. There’s plenty available with a Google search.
- Reduce refuse, reuse, and recycle.
- Pray for those working hard for the environment, and contact your elected officials to advocate for creation.
- Read the pope’s encyclical, available for free online on the Vatican’s website.
“Pope Francis says we’re turning our earth into an immense pile of filth,” Sister Jean said. “We need to look at ourselves as consumers and do we really need something, or do we really want it because everyone else has it. The pope is calling for us to live more simply, to take time to stop our crazy busy lives and … realize what we’re doing and appreciate nature and God’s created world much more.”
The Care for Creation committee is holding an open meeting to present how the diocese is reaching out to young people on social media, how people can learn the Catholic social teaching on the environment and practical ways to reach out to parishioners and community. The event will take place at 7 p.m., May 6, at the Villa Maria Convent, 600 Doat St.
“We need to take time to pray,” Sister Jean said. “We need to pray in gratitude for all that we have and the beauty all around. We need to pray for ourselves that we can change some of our behavior patterns, because that’s the most difficult thing, and that’s really what’s called for here. That’s what Pope Francis is calling for here. A real change of heart, a real conversion.”