Formation - 5 July 2018

en - Be the Change

Little Sisters of the Assumption. Finglas community. Ireland.

In March and April, as part of our ongoing JPIC sessions with the Finglas LSA community, we invited two members of VIVAT – Tom McCabe and Mary Rose Crowe – to present two workshops to our Sisters. 

The workshops were based on “Be the Change”, a symposium on climate change and the health of the earth’s vital systems, which has been developed by Pachamama Alliance and adapted to the Irish context. In their presentation, Tom and Mary Rose integrated the concepts of Laudato Si and its spiritual message. “Be the Change” aims to draw participants into a sense of their profound connection to planet earth and all of life - in this way, it echoes the message of Laudato Si. Both are invitations to become informed, engaged and active on behalf of our planetary home. Tom and Mary Rose told stories of their growing up in farming communities to describe their connection to the earth. These stories resonated with the Sisters, and encouraged them to share their own stories and link their experiences with the care of the earth. The workshops sparked conversations about the practical ways that people who are older or confined can contribute to caring for the earth. There was a renewed feeling of enthusiasm and a recognition that everyone’s contribution is important and necessary. 

Through Eco-Congregation, we discovered a small step we could take towards more sustainable living, with ‘Recycling Ambassadors’. These are individuals who run free workshops to educate people about how to minimise waste and recycle well. In Ireland we generate around 3 billion single use plastic bottles per year, and it has been predicted that there will be more plastic waste than fish in the oceans by 2050. Trying to reduce our use of plastics is one of the most important actions we can take to care for the earth – something as simple as buying a reusable water bottle is a small change that can make a difference. 

In Laudato Si, interconnectedness is the key word. Pope Francis cautions against theories of economic growth that do not respect ecology and highlights the danger of consumerism. Those of us who live in nations with the highest consumption of goods must reflect on the impact of our excessive consumerism on poorer countries – Pope Francis explains that those with the least are most harmed by ecological degradation, and underscores the importance of thinking of the well-being of future generations.

At the World Meeting of Families in August, Trócaire, the Global Catholic Climate Movement & Laudato Si Ireland will be running a project called “Our Common Home”. People will be able to visit eco-spaces and join in discussion, prayer and action in caring for our beautiful planet. Pilgrims will also be able to hear some of the eco-stories of families from around the world and discover more about how we can live more sustainably. I attended a forum for this event at Loyola Institute at Trinity College, where Lorna Gould (Trócaire) gave an overview of the plan and the organisations involved. This is a fantastic opportunity to spread the message of sustainable living to a wide audience, particularly among parishes around the country. We are blessed that this has been a priority of ours for a number of years, but Pope Francis’s message in Laudato Si will help us to strengthen and continue our work on climate justice.