In the 6th anniversary year of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si, there are ongoing efforts by many organizations and individuals for ecological conversion to restore and protect Our Common Home. Ecological conversion involves changes of mind and heart that transform lifestyles towards harmony with the earth. Professor Stacy Davis at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, describes conversion as a lifelong process of continual learning from one another. She suggests that “life events and world events should change how you view the world.” Her studies and teaching were recently described in an interview by US Catholic (Vol. 86, No. 6, pages 16-20).
“If you start recycling because you are concerned about the trash piling up in your house, that would not necessarily be a conversion. If you start recycling because you read that plastic ends up in the ocean; whales eat it, and it gets stuck in their blowholes; your tradition says, “God created all things and beheld they were good”; and you decide it is probably not in your best interest to harm God’s good creation, then that is a conversion.”
What forces prevent us from responding as communities to problems posed by our changing world with hope, kindness, and compassion on behalf of the earth and future generations? Professor Davis explains, “The reason you also need the community conversion, particularly when you’re dealing with any big social problem like the environment, is that interior conversion is not going to be enough to affect the necessary change. It needs to be a group effort. I think what Pope Francis is trying to say is that you need the interior conversion, but you also need a group of like-minded people who each have had an interior conversion to join in the community and then say, “What can we do?”
In the Laudato Si, Pope Francis conveys that actions are a necessary component of ecological conversion, in addition to prayer and concern. What is the next step in your environmental transformation? Can you be part of a community that is open and willing to learn from one another and take positive actions on behalf of Our Common Home?
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work