Laudato Si’ at Bosco
by Fay Hair
Nearly 60 people gathered in St John Bosco College Hall on Sunday, November 22 to learn about and to reflect on Laudato SI’, the Encyclical on Caring for our Common Home.
In the Encyclical, Pope Francis urges us to “Get back to nature – the caress of God – to recharge.” He asks us to “Be more attentive to its beauty and wonder, and revisit places that left you with happy memories.” How does this relate to our faith? How does it relate to the way we live our daily lives? What is being asked of us? What will our personal responses be? These were some of the questions we explored.
After St John Bosco College Social Justice Group Leaders led the Acknowledgement of Country and Opening Prayer, Father Peter Smith, Justice and Peace Office Sydney Archdiocese, gave an inspirational opening address. He shared how his values were shaped by the influence of his parents. He told us that the example of their compassion for others led him to be involved in working for social justice. He encouraged us to be open to engage with the Encyclical… a document that draws on the wisdom of past popes, and captures all social justice issues, poverty, inequality, freedom …..
The keynote address was given by Jacqui Remond, Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia. Jacqui explained that one key message in Laudato Si’ is the call to “an ecological conversion… Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” Jacqui discussed the spirituality of creation – the beauty of creation, and our need to be respectful of, and live in harmony with, all of God’s creation. She explained that the Encyclical follows Catholic Social Teaching processes as it called us to “See, Judge and Act” – See (Ch 1: What is happening to our common home), Judge (Ch 2-4: The gospel of creation; The human roots of the ecological crisis; Integral ecology) and Act (Ch 5-6: Lines of approach and action; Ecological education and spirituality)
Participants were invited to reflect on and then make a commitment to take action, and to take personal responsibility to embrace, care and live in harmony with creation. Individual commitments by those present included: using fewer resources, recycling more, daily reading of Laudato Si’, stopping to notice and appreciate gifts of nature, using public transport more… As well as these individual actions, many committed to take part in community actions such as the People’s Climate March in Sydney on 29th November and signing the Catholic Climate petition (already signed by over 800,000 people worldwide).
For those wishing to explore this topic further there is lots of material on the internet including Catholic Earthcare (http://catholicearthcare.org.au/ecological-encyclical/and Justice and Peace Office https://justiceandpeace.org.au/ . Please contact the Bosco Social Justice Group if you would like to take part in a study group on Laudato Si’ or for further ideas on community engagement.
We left understanding that we need to be responsible for our world. We left hopeful that together we can make a difference and we can help bring our world back to being a place of harmony, and we left renewed that with our belief and faith we will always be sustained by our God…