A big thanks to Dr. John Hooker, Dr. Benjamin Miele, Ms. Patricia Ramirez, Mr. Daniel Potter, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, Laudato Si Animators, the UIW community, the Incarnate Word Sisters, and Texas Pax Christi, who made the eco-pilgrimage possible. Dr. Carlos Garcia, MSE Dean, provided transportation for the high school students. UIW Medical Health’s Dr. Shaylon Rettig, Mission, and Ministry’s Ms. Beth Villareal, Headwaters’ Sr. Cindy Stacy, Ettling Center, and Sustainability Department’s Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez and Teofilo Reyes also contributed to bringing their juicy ideas and background works to celebrate UIW’s Season of Creation. The team promotes sustainability, raising awareness of our own contributions and responsibility to care for the Earth. To hold this outdoor event without any bottled water being used, we gave the students reusable water bottles from the beginning of the pilgrimage, reminding participants that the UIW campus is surrounded by water refilling stations in each of the buildings.
The team started as early as 7am getting ready with
the resources and preparing for what the day would bring. The eco-tour started at
9am and ended at 11am. We had four groups of high-school students led by
Arthur, Sr. Christi, Maria, and UIW student Jessica Solomon. Everyone was given a pilgrimage guide
containing facts, quotes, and prayers or reflections related to pilgrimage,
community gardens, the pollinator garden, the solar house, artworks,
Headwaters, and the Blessing of the Animals. The event only featured four of
these while the Blessing of the Animals was scheduled for October 3. The
Headwaters Sanctuary was not covered by the event but is open to the public. It is adjacent to the UIW campus and offers nature
trails and the Blue Hole, making it a popular spot for outdoor education, reflection,
hiking, and volunteer works for the preservation of native plants and species.
Everyone joyously celebrated the season with all the
eco-friendly and sustainable gifts they can bring home and talk about after the
end of their pilgrimage. Apart from the
reusable water bottles, other eco gifts were given after answering questions
about the tour. The students had a
chance to have reusable utensil kits, native seeds, reusable water bottles, and
some biodegradable toothbrushes (including biodegradable bristles, yes!). Some cheerfully received extra gifts after answering
questions on sustainable habits and were given eco-friendly friendship bands that
were personally crafted by Maria Trevino and Sr. Marylou. The friendship bands included
sustainability pledges such as “I will use reusable water bottles (instead of
bottled water)”, “I will plant and care for a tree”, “I will turn off the
faucet when not in use”, “I will start a pollinator garden” and many others.
Sustainability is visible in the UIW campus, being part of the Laudato Si Action Platform. The practice of sustainability is still growing and that is the point. Sustainability is an ongoing process with an invitation to what individuals and the collective society are already able to do and what else can be done to further lessen our carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
As the last activity of the Season of Creation, Sr. Martha Ann, Dr. Darlene Carbajal of the UIW Communication Arts Department, Darlene Jasso and Edwin Mendoza, founders of the Little Angels of Mary in Guatemala www.LittleAngelsofMary.org facilitated the Annual Blessing of the Animals at Our Lady’s Grotto on October 3 at 6 pm. This has been a tradition for more than forty years. Dogs from small, medium, and large, pictures of cats, squirrels, and dogs, and animal stuffed toys paraded the seats of the Grotto. Annually the gathering has begun with “Sacred Creation,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60OgepxidUg a version of St. Francis’ “Canticle of Creation” which was set to music by Bro. Rufino Zaragoza, OFM with all incarnating the prayer.