The following article is a re-post of Catholic communities honored for ‘Care of Our Common Home’ by Chuck Gibson.
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr officially recognized 13 Catholic communities as “Laudato Si’ Communities” in a prayer service held June 18 at Good Shepherd Church in Symmes Township.
The date marked the third anniversary of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’ – On Care of Our Common Home.” Laudato Si’ translates to “Praise be to you.”
In Pope Francis’ 2015 letter addressing care for the world and its resources, he called on all people to take better care of “Mother Earth” and to care for one another. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati set guidelines for Catholic institutions to receive the Laudato Si’ for taking steps to answer the call. So much enthusiasm followed the Pope’s encyclical, with parish communities really personalizing the mission to care for creation.
Tony Stieritz, director, Catholic Social Action for the Cincinnati Archdiocese, helped organize the inaugural prayer service to recognize the first Catholic communities with the necessary score on a facility assessment.
I think Pope Francis’ encyclical really put wind in our sails, said Stieritz.
Everyday practices like recycling and decreased water usage, along with larger investments such as solar panels for energy efficiency, were part of the evaluation. Faithful environmental stewardship was encouraged by requiring at least 10 percent of the members of their community to have household assessments. Each community had to host a program for its members on the Catholic teaching on caring for God’s creation. It is a purposeful effort to elevate the message for the world to see, to inspire each other and to inspire others.
Let’s hold this up. Let’s not keep the light under the basket,” Stieritz said. “From the little things like a youth group making posters and showing up at the parish festival to send a message, to the big things like geothermal and solar panels.
Clearly 13 communities taking action to care for Mother Earth reveals their desire to make a difference in saving the planet. Stieritz is very happy with results so far, and hopeful more Catholic communities will join in the effort to be part of the solution. Presiding over the celebration, Archbishop Schnurr brought a spiritual affirmation with a hope-filled prayer service recognizing the importance for care and preservation of God’s creation – our common home.
Creation is God’s gift,” said Archbishop Schnurr. “The dignity of the human person requires that we also be concerned about the environment in which the person lives. It is respect for God’s creation, respect for God’s gift, it is respect for one another.
The archbishop said the groups coming together demonstrated their faith commitment in the treasure God has given all of us and further shows their concern for future generations. Schnurr would like to see the effort grow beyond the community projects to getting legislation passed to protect the environment. More than anything, he is genuinely excited to see young people get involved. Bright eyes and a broad smile shined upon his face as he told of the many letters he receives from school children telling what they are doing in school to be Laudato Si’ communities.
“If they grow up in this fashion, they’ll have a great appreciation for this environment,” Schnurr said. It is a respect for our environment the archbishop recognizes from his youth growing up in the farm communities of rural northwest Iowa. “They have recycle bins in their classrooms; they’ve taken the message home about LED lighting, very simple things. This is taking care of God’s creation, taking care of earth which will be an important part of their life for a long time.”
Seeing Mercy Montessori Center sixth-grade students Reece Flaspohler,10, and Rachel Losch,11, receive and carry the Laudato Si’ Banner was a touching moment for all to witness.
It felt good,” said Flaspohler. “We’ve made a big difference with recycling, composting and using silverware instead of garbage in our cafeteria.
Both school children showed pride in being part of the effort to care for earth at school and at home.
“It made me feel proud to be part of the Mercy community,” said Losch. “We use cloth napkins instead of paper towels to reduce waste.”
“My dad started non-waste at our house about seven years ago,” said Flaspohler. “He has a chart that shows the things we can do to reduce waste.”
Representatives of all 13 Catholic communities received the Laudato Si’ Banner for efforts like the ongoing “Care for Creation” program of St. Anthony’s in Madisonville, the Healthy Earth Team from the Bellarmine Chapel on the campus of Xavier University, actions of the sustainability committee at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Kettering, the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord, composting at St. Columban in Loveland, tree planting at Community of the Good Shepherd in Symmes Township, solar panels, LED lighting, recycling and reaching out all across the country by Glenmary Home Missioners, St. Joseph/St. Raphael, St. Monica-St. George, Mount St. Joseph University, Sisters of Charity and Sisters of the Precious Blood.
“Hope-filled was what we needed,” Stieritz summarized the event. “Hope from God. I think we had that tonight.”