In this Season of Creation (9/3 – 10/4), Pope Francis reminds us to take “decisive, urgent action to transform the climate crisis into an opportunity.” The high severity of natural disasters in just the last few months has touched the lives of nearly one-third of the people living in the US. From the ongoing fires in the western part of the country to the hurricanes and unprecedented rainfalls in the east, many people have died, and others have lost their homes. It is not surprising that one news headline states, “Climate disasters will strain our mental health system. It’s time to adapt.”
By and large, we have not responded to the call to focus on climate science, make changes, and adapt to earth altered by humans. Pope Francis asks us to “Heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” While Pope Francis has been pleading with followers of the faith to reflect, pray, and above all take action, very few parishes and dioceses have fully responded to the call. What exactly is the role of faith communities in addressing climate change? What are the responsibilities of churches and faith communities in creation care?
Numerous events address these questions and offer information on ways to take part in healing our ailing earth. The Gary Diocese Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission and Youth and Young Adults Commission responded to the call. They sponsored Laudato Si’On Care For Our Common Home on October 9th at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church (1715 Barker Street, Michigan City, IN). The event will occur from 8:00 to 3:00 with the keynote address by Rev. Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Director, Center for Spirituality, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame speaking on “The Theology of Laudato Si’.” For those interested in learning more or attending, use this link or call the diocese: Laudato Si’ Sign up Form (office.com).
Some other organizations offering helpful online webinars and information on taking action on climate change include the Franciscan Action Network, Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, Catholic Climate Covenant, Green Faith, and Faith Ecology Network. We all have a role in protecting Our Common Home. Ask your faith leader to take action to care for creation.
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