From the Founder: How We Can Discover the Light this Season
I’ve always been keenly observant to the steady decline in daylight as we move toward Christmas. In the Northern Hemisphere, we wake in darkness and often return home from our jobs in darkness. But on December 25, we are already, almost imperceptibly, heading toward spring when the light returns and new life blooms. Christmas brings us light.
A small measure of light also came from the world leaders who reached a modest agreement on climate change in Glasgow last month. The pact includes commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of coal and a pledge to provide financial aid to poorer nations to cope with the effects of climate change and move towards clean energy. However, many of us do not feel it goes far enough to cut emissions at the pace needed, or to help developing countries already suffering from our neglect.
Yet, as we head into a new year toward spring light and life, we remain hopeful because so many of you, the Church, are ready to do your part, standing together to act.
More signs of brighter days: After much anticipation, the Vatican released its Laudato Si Action Platform, a collaboration that will empower all of us in the church -- from small families to big institutions -- to achieve total sustainability. (See more on the platform below.)
At the Covenant, we’re proud to partner with the Vatican in this effort, and this month we unveiled the “We’re All Part of God’s Plan(et)” campaign to educate, inspire and equip the Catholic community to act upon the teachings of Laudato Si’.
Catholic involvement in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform will enable us to become beacons to those in need of hope, especially young people and those experiencing poverty. Let us, together, do all we can to illuminate a new path forward where all life flourishes.
Wishing you a blessed Advent,
Catholic Climate Covenant
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We are Well on our Way!
Thanks to your generosity on Giving Tuesday, we have met our fundraising goal to match the $25,000 donation from the Franciscan Sisters of Mary and are well on our way to raise a minimum of $100,000 as we start our End of the Year Campaign (December 1-31.)
Donations from both campaigns will help further our goal to love and protect God’s gift to us. We are encouraged by Pope Francis' quote "Let us walk together taking care of each other and of creation, our common home." We hope it will inspire those who have yet to donate to think about what care for creation means and to join us in making the new year one of increased action on behalf of our common home.
WATCH: Also, we invite you to enjoy this video from Robyn Webb-Williams, our Director of Development, where we get to enjoy the beauty of creation, along with a special message.
Vatican unveils Laudato Si ‘Action Platform’
On November 14 -- the World Day of Prayer for the Poor -- the Vatican launched the enrollment phase of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year plan to widen the reach of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment. The platform is open to all sectors of the church, which can join through the platform website. Participants enroll in one of seven categories: families; parishes and dioceses; religious orders; educational institutions; health care facilities; lay-led organizations; and economic entities. The platform also details the Laudato Si' goals — such as ecological economics and adopting simple lifestyles — and identifies measures to meet those goals, like reducing consumption of meat, divesting from fossil fuels, and fostering ecological education. Enrollment remains open until April 22, Earth Day.
Catholic Climate Covenant in the news ...
The Covenant is partnering with the Vatican on the Laudato Si' Action Platform, and our director, Jose Aguto, was interviewed in several articles about our goals and activities.
First, Jose talked to Catholic News Service about God’s Plan(et), our effort to provide resources, ideas and a gathering place for those seeking to integrate Laudato Si’ into daily life. More info on God’s Plan(et) is below.
Jose told CNS: “We seek to offer to U.S. faithful and institutions not just a website with resources to implement Laudato Si’ but also hands-on expertise to help accompany them in doing so.”
Jose also spoke to National Catholic Reporter. As NCR noted: More than 4,000 church organizations and bodies — including the Jesuits and the Salesian Sisters, the Pontifical Gregorian University and 80 Catholic colleges worldwide, the California bishops' conference and upwards of 1,000 families — have committed to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
Jose told NCR the interest so far has been "inspiring" and called the initiative "a tangible platform [for people] to feel like they are contributing to the solution."
"We the church need to be providing genuine hope to young people, both within the church and beyond the church, that we are going to care for our common home and strive for a meaningful, viable, ecologically healthy, sustainable future for present and future generations," Jose told NCR’s EarthBeat.
Finally, America: The Jesuit Review wrote an excellent profile of Jose. The piece noted his 12 years of experience working on ecological issues and his deep concern for the next generation. As Jose told America, “Our ecological crisis is fundamentally a moral one. Crafting a faith-based response to the crisis gets to a lot of the root causes of why we are commodifying human beings, why we are commodifying nature.”
Unveiling God's Plan(et)...
The day after the Vatican launched the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, the Covenant and a national coalition of U.S. Catholic organizations unveiled the “We’re All Part of God’s Plan(et)” campaign to educate, inspire and equip Catholics to act upon the teachings of Laudato Si’ and to care for creation.
As the home for U.S.-specific resources and news, it will feature best practices, action plans, events and inspiring work. It is also an interactive place where groups and families can share ideas, challenges, and opportunities, and seek further guidance and accompaniment.
The “We’re all Part of God’s Plan(et)” campaign launch includes placing national ads in Catholic and young adult-geared outlets and publications, digital materials for social media, print materials for groups and churches, downloadable materials for wide distribution, a 30-second video, and campaign merchandise for groups to encourage and participation and action in the Vatican’s effort. The campaign is managed by Catholic Climate Covenant and its member partners.
We invite you, your family, parish, group, school, everyone, to visit the site, share your actions and Platform enrollment, and to use the campaign materials to help spread the word that Catholics care and are acting for creation.
People of faith united to pray for COP26...
As world leaders gathered in Scotland for the highly anticipated summit on climate change, people of faith from all corners of the earth prayed and fasted, held vigils and online services, united in their call for concrete measures to halt the disastrous warming of the planet. People from a variety of faiths met on the margins of COP26, hoping to press negotiators to adopt meaningful measures. One group of a dozen “COP26 pilgrims,” walked from England, a route of 500 miles over 55 days, to arrive in Glasgow.
Catholic Climate Covenant was one of about 20 Catholic groups participating in “24 Hours for the Climate,” a vigil uniting Catholics and other people of faith from around the world to pray and advocate for the success of COP26.
Advent is here and we have an inspiring calendar to share!
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Durham, North Carolina, has produced an Advent Calendar, Daring to Hope, with daily ideas for spiritual reflection and actions to care for the poor and our common home. Examples include shopping for local foods, saving energy on household appliances, and taking time to pray and reflect on our actions and Catholic teaching on the environment. You can view and download the calendar on our website. Thanks to Immaculate Conception parish for the great work!
Georgetown hosts dialogue on resisting a ‘throwaway culture’
Pope Francis asked Catholic leaders to bring together young people of different faiths to reflect on the call to build a culture of encounter, friendship, and solidarity in our own lives and communities. To that end, two of D.C.’s top Catholic institutions -- the Archdiocese of Washington and Georgetown University -- hosted three unique virtual gatherings. One such gathering examined Pope Francis’ call to reject a throwaway culture, where ultimately “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected."
The Maryknoll Sisters are hosting a Creation Care webinar!
On December 7 at 9 p.m. Eastern, the Maryknoll Sisters will host an hourlong online interactive webinar with Sister Jocelyn Fenix, M.M. Sister Jocelyn will share her community's commitment to radically living out the call of Laudato Si’ in Panama. Sign up here!
“Field Notes” from our Creation Care Teams
The Maryknoll Sisters are responding to the Laudato Si Action Plan goals by setting aside 42 acres of their campus in Ossining, NY as a Conservation Easement, divestment from fossil fuels and ethical investments, adopting “Meatless Mondays,” hosting a number of educational webinars and programs and advocating for community resilience and empowerment.
The St. Charles Borromeo Care for the Earth Ministry in Skillman, New Jersey drew 50 people to a program centered on the award-winning documentary “Francesco,” with emphasis on Laudato Si and Pope Francis' call to ecological conversion. The ministry also hosted a speaker on the Ash Tree Crisis, which is threatening the canopy of the largest contiguous forest in central New Jersey and continues to expand its Garden of Mercy which grows fresh veggies for a local food pantry.
St. John Chrysostom’s Care for Creation Team in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, has begun to distribute a newsletter as a way to increase communication with parishioners and friends outside of the parish. In November they participated in a trade fair by displaying sustainable wrapping and decoration ideas and distributing handouts on How to Have a Green Christmas.
Creation Care advocates in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis have started a Sustainable Communities Partnership with the University of Saint Thomas. They are exploring a project to implement for the Spring semester in 2022 having Saint Thomas students help write sections of a Laudato Si’ Action Plan for the Archdiocese. At St Thomas More in St. Paul, the Creation Care Team has contracted with the University of St. Thomas to work on two projects: examining student feelings about climate change and studying Minnesota-based climate change priorities.
The Old St. Joseph’s Care for Creation Team in Philadelphia is recycling batteries and electronics, paper products, plastics and aluminum cans at parish events. Progress on energy and CO2 savings is displayed on thermometer goal charts. The team is also calculating the carbon footprint of parish buildings and identifying potential carbon offset projects, hosting workshop on reducing energy use and working with the archdiocesan Laudato Si’ coalition to promote opportunities for solar energy installation in schools, health facilities and parishes.
The Common Home Ministry at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Kansas has sponsored a school Creation Care assembly, two trail/stream Clean-Up Events, a sapling Give-Away for the Feast of St. Francis, and an “End to Single-Use Plastics” Campaign with a reusable grocery bag giveaway, a new recycling system in the school cafeteria, introduced washable mugs and glasses at post-Mass social events and offers regular Creation Care tips in the church bulletin.
It’s inspiring to see so many Catholic communities putting their faith into actions and working to save God’s precious Creation! We hope you all have a blessed Advent.
Catholic Climate Covenant provides all its programs and resources free of charge. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to inspire and equip people and institutions to care for creation and care for the poor. Through our 19 national partners, we guide the U.S. Church's response to climate change by educating, giving public witness, and offering resources. Thank you for giving to care for creation and care for the poor.
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