On November 14, 2015 a group of 13 sisters gathered at Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis, MO for a Community Conversation on Laudato Si. This event was sponsored by the new Congregational Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office and was facilitated by Jennifer Reyes Lay, Assistant Director of the JPIC Office. The sisters spent the afternoon together reflecting on the message of Laudato Si and the imperative call to care for our common home. The event consisted of time for reviewing sections of Laudato Si, small group conversation and sharing, personal reflection time in nature, large group sharing, and a reflective prayer on the elements of creation to close our time together.
Many ideas were shared about actions that we could take to better care for our common home and curb the effects of climate change. Some of the ideas for personal and communal actions included recycling and buying recyclable or compostable materials, buying from local food sources, taking public transportation including bus or train instead of flying when traveling, cultivating greater peace in our lives and relationships, and before buying something new see if there is an option to fix what is broken or borrow/buy second hand from someone else who no longer needs that item.
In addition to these personal actions, we discussed the importance of using our collective voice to advocate on behalf of the planet and all the species of plants and animals that call it home. This can include contacting our representatives and government leaders, lobbying for clean/renewable energy, and joining in mass demonstrations like the upcoming global climates marches on November 29th. We all have a responsibility to prevent further climate change and take care of our earth in our own unique ways, as Pope Francis reminds us: “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents” (LS #14).
The conversation ended with a prayer of repentance for the ways we have harmed the earth, and gratitude for the many gifts of the earth. Attendees then committed themselves to pray, learn, reflect, act, and advocate through the Pledge of St. Francis (below). Additional Community Conversations will be happening in San Antonio, Mexico, and Peru in the coming months, as the entire CCVI Congregation has a chance to reflect on and respond to the call of Laudato Si, to care for our common home.
The St. Francis Pledge
I/We Pledge to:
u PRAY and REFLECT on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
u LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
u ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
u ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
u ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerableble