Yesterday the Pope made headlines around the world with his encyclical "Laudato Si'." As an impassioned plea for our "ecological conversion," the 191-page document was perhaps the most highly anticipated papal teaching in recent history.
While the Pope's spiritual view of ecology may be novel to some, he's in sync with countless other Catholics—including many in our own Archdiocese. The following are several ways in which local Catholics have been responsible caretakers of creation.
St. Gabriel's Parish, Toronto
After its completion in 2006, St. Gabriel's became the first church in Canada to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification. Its Canadian architect, Roberto Chiotti, was trained in the eco-theology of Passionist thinker Father Thomas Berry. While reducing energy costs was one reason for building a 'green' church, the parish's primary motivation was to establish a link between the sacredness of the faith community of and that of the earth.
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
From July 1-3, Development and Peace will participate in a conference on the encyclical at the Vatican in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a coalition of Catholic international development organizations. Then in the fall, they will be launching the "Create a Climate of Change" campaign, asking Canadians to take action through lifestyle changes that are environmentally responsible. Development and Peace has also assembled resources on their website to encourage personal reflection on the challenges of climate change.
Creation: 'And God saw that it was good…'
Why should we care for the environment? This is the question that Salt + Light Television, in partnership with the Environmental Science and Studies Department of the University Of St. Thomas in Houston, attempts to answer with the new documentary series Creation. The six-part production offers an age-old perspective of the environment from the point of view of the Catholic Church and God's design.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, DPCDSB
Designed and built by students, OLMC's Green Room has become an integral part of the school's eco-friendly culture. Students have gained hands-on experience with energy conservation, as natural lighting and shade replace indoor lighting and air conditioning. The Green Room reminds students to be stewards of the earth, in accordance with the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectation that they be "responsible citizens who respect the environment and use resources wisely."
St. Justin, Martyr Catholic Elementary School in Markham, YCDSB
St. Justin, Martyr was the first school in the board to introduce organic waste bins through the City of Markham's Zero Waste Program. Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell recently presented the school a special certificate for its six year commitment to Markham's waste management program. Another initiative is "Rock the Bike," an off-the-grid light and music show powered entirely by the cycling energy of students. Commonwealth and Pan Am Games cyclist Ed Veal took part in a demonstration of the program during the Lt. Gov.'s visit.
St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, TCDSB
St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School has been recognized as a gold level EcoSchool for five years and as a platinum certified school for two. It has been engaged in local, national and global environmental issues, including raising funds for an NGO that provides wells and potable water in East Africa. St. JP II students are also mentoring elementary students on environmental sustainability. This year the school has been addressing food supply issues, while establishing an orchard and an apiary on the school grounds to help replenish urban bee colonies.
Visit our "Laudato Si'" webpage for more useful resources.
Kris Dmytrenko is a communications coordinator in the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Public Relations & Communications.