Friday, October 9, 2020

God's Creatures and Care of Creation, Presentations to Invite the World to "Climate Reality"

                                                  Evelyn Mantalvo and Sadie

In preparation for October 10, 2020, Climate Reality Day, University of the Incarnate Word  students shared an educational and prayerful program on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  Read about Climate Reality day internationally and in San Antonio, Texas. 

On or near October 4, since the mid-1970’s, at Incarnate Word College (now the University of the Incarnate Word), community members have gathered near the Headwaters to remember St. Francis of Assisi (1182 - 1226), patron saint of ecology, and to have a blessing of animals.  The pandemic kept people from gathering outside, but online connections made it possible for one of the founders of the tradition at Incarnate Word to virtually attend, Kim Brinster.  She now lives in New Zealand and shared stories of roosters on their island. This 2020 celebration in front of screens included guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and about 50 two legged creatures.  Students, families, friends, and retired faculty from New Mexico and around the San Antonio area came.   Yesenia Caloca and Alyssa Kennedy shared prayers. Sr. Martha Ann Kirk noted that while people were killing each other during the Crusades, Francis bravely went to the Muslim ruler to talk about stopping the violence. All  watched images and listened to song by her friends Jesse Manibusan and Bro. Rufino Zaragoza ofm. She had been invited to help them find pictures of peace makers.  "The Spirit of Assisi: We come only armed with love"  Can I learn to “come only armed with love”?    Am I willing to take down “the walls of hate and fear”?  To live with mercy and compassion so that peace can come? 

Kassandra Luna, a sophomore, majoring in Security Systems, said,  “The Blessing of the Animals and Celebration of Creation event brought me a few tears of joys. I am an animal lover, more towards dogs because they match my crazy energy. I loved seeing everybody's animals on screen, I honestly wanted to hug them because they were so cute.  I loved the way everyone was so proud to show off their animals as if they were their own children. The best part was when they acknowledged that were not perfect and that is what loved them even more.  I enjoyed the second part of the event because we were covering plastic pollution. We know that plastic pollution is a main contributing factor to the the destruction of our green planet so to see this organization bring awareness to the topics and give us the sources in order to participate in making a 180 is very inspiring.”

Louis P. Lubbering (1944-2020), beloved art teacher at IWHS and UIW, compassionately cared for God's creatures

Lauren Chavez, Sophomore, Nursing Major, noted that this was “such an inspiring event to attend. It was so nice to see every animal owner show off their beloved pet. You could really see in each owner’s eyes how much they loved and cared for their pet and how proud they were to show them off. Being able to pray and bless all of these animals was very special and I know it meant a lot to all the owners.  During the second half of the event, we were all able to share and learn about issues that are happening on our Earth. This was very eye-opening and gave everyone an opportunity bring awareness to these topics as well as learn about what we could do to help try and resolve these issues.”

Madison Tulaba, Junior, Theatre Arts Major, wrote,  “Getting to see so many animals grace my computer screen and their owners smiling faces was incredible. Hearing the stories and prayers shared at this event really meant a lot to me.  I learned a lot from this event. Being able to work with such a great team and learn more about plastic pollution was incredible. To be honest, I did not have much knowledge on plastic pollution beforehand so being able to do research on such an important topic helped me learn a lot more on how not only myself but others can help the earth. Hearing my fellow classmates presentations taught me a lot as well. I was excited to see what everyone had worked so hard on and learn more about sustainability.”

Maia Smith, a Sophomore, Nursing Major, wrote that the gathering “was a wonderful opportunity to spread love, educate each other, and do our part to protect our precious Earth. Seeing everybody's animals during the first half of the event brought a smile to my face during these uncertain times. It's hard not to feel joy when you see a happy animal being loved and cared for by a happy owner!  The second half of the event was very informative. I learned a lot about my group's topic, plastic pollution, through my research and the contributions of my teammates. Issues addressed by other groups included greenhouse gasses, energy conservation, and the declining polar bear population. It gave me hope to see so many people coming together to create a more sustainable future for all.” 


                                     Victoria Velasquez and her animal friend

Victoria Velazquez, a Junior Sociology Major, said, “The Blessing of the Animals and Celebration of Creation event was an incredible experience. I learned of the beauty there is in coming together in celebration and unity that left a lasting impact on me. This event was beautifully enriched with diverse forms of life and creation. There was a great deal to be appreciated. Within my group and others, there was an excellent conversational exchange to the various critical concerns impacting our Earth. Personally, the preparation involved in working with my group created an immense care and concern toward promoting sustainability for all creation. Having the opportunity to share on the topic of Earth justice related to plastic pollution cultivated a united effort. Specifically, it advocated for the sanctity of creation that could be achieved individually, locally, and globally. Additionally, the St. Francis of Assisi prayer was inspirational to reflect on each significant word that we so desperately need to embody in this critical time. It is essential to discover the ways we may work together toward a sustainable future.”

Evelynn Montalvo, a Sophomore who is majoring in Nursing Major, wrote, “I appreciated the opportunity as I got to see so many animals in loving homes, as well as the people that loved them. Getting to view the value people give to their pets made it more apparent that life is something we should treasure and celebrate. I enjoyed first being able to see the community connect with one another over the things we love, then getting to put all of that into perspective during the second half of the event when everyone got a chance to hear about global crises affecting all of us. It was nice to see that so many people showed up to the event. The large group that gathered with us on October 4th showed me that people still care and are willing to listen and educate themselves. There was a great sense of unity, and unity is something we will certainly need as we tackle to issues discussed during the second half of the event.”

Alyssa Kennedy had spoken of and shown her dog Gabbi who had medical challenges and could barely use her legs.  The gathering ended with an inspiring film of Gabbi’s friends and how people love and care for dogs who are differently abled

Brittany Edwards explained their group's presentation, “The Earth is continuously warming and with this, marine life is dying, pollution is rising, and only so much is being done to address this advancement. The Cypress Creation Community focused our initiative on Greenhouse gas emissions, their impact on the atmosphere in local and global aspects, and what can be done to improve the quality of the air that we breathe. Climate equity is an ever-present topic in our communities, and it is a primary area of concern in our city's climate action plan and efforts to positively impact our environment will cultivate a healthier future for generations to come.”

Safietou Dorsey noted, “Our presentation was about ocean conservation. Our oceans sustain life and it is our duty as people to preserve them. Currently, with climate change and global warming as a direct result of pollution, we have seen a drastic change in Ocean life. It is important to promote ocean sustainability and eliminate the problems that are negatively affecting our oceans.” Their group recommends    and,get%20caught%20in%20plastic%20litter  and

Maia Smith said, “We researched plastic pollution, specifically single-use plastics. We emphasized the issues of mass production and wasteful packaging and stressed the importance of government action in addition to individual choices. We explained the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act and encouraged individuals to contact their representatives.” The recommend: Summary of the 2020 Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act:  Letter of Support:    Single Use Plastics: 

Evan Rey Santos said, "The Willow group had the honor of sharing the seriousness of energy conservation, especially in the United States. Not only does saving energy save money, but it also protects the environment we all live in. We exposed how our main sources of energy aren’t renewable and how we, the human race, should consider the needs of future generations. Our team’s presentation brought to light several easy ways we can be energy efficient, either at home or on the road. The website below offers reasons homeowners should look at energy efficiency. If you still need some more convincing on why conserving energy is crucial to sustainability then this is the source for you.

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