Diocese offers prayers, projects for saving the planet

By Eileen Jevis
Staff writer

Sunday, Oct. 1, was a beautiful fall day, a “day that the Lord has made,” as the children’s hymn states: “We will rejoice and be glad in it!” That was especially true for those who gathered for Mass in the grotto shrine at Holy Family Church in Fairmount to pray that all days in creation be treated as God’s gift.

The Mass was part of the Season of Creation that began Sept. 1 with the World Day of Prayer and ended Oct. 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. During the Season, the Church renews its relationship with the Creator and with creation, through celebration, conversion and commitment to take action on the global environmental crisis. Parishes throughout the diocese participated in various ways.

Bishop Douglas J. Lucia was the main celebrant, and he referred to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. It was an international appeal for dialogue about how we shape the future of our planet. Bishop reminded us of how we treat all of life and all of God’s creation. “Let’s think about all the things we do to care for creation and all the things we might not do,” he said. “When we see all the garbage along the highways, we look and think how ugly it is. But we have to ask ourselves, ‘What am I doing about it? How am I helping God’s creation reflect the glory of God?’”

Since the Pope’s letter was published, parishioners across the diocese have formed task forces and developed action plans based on the Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform (https://laudatosiactionplatform.org). According to the website, there are seven goals that provide guidance on urgent and immediate actions each of us can take in the care of our common home.

David Babcock, a parishioner at St. Augustine’s Parish in Baldwinsville and chairperson of the task force, said that “God’s creation is being significantly stressed through global-warming reductions in natural habitats and our throwaway tendencies. We are the caretakers of God’s earth, but the environment is in crisis because of excessive heating of the atmosphere from carbon emissions, acidification of oceans, stronger storm events, the loss of so many species and natural habitats and the excessive plastics present in those habitats,” he explained.

Each task force in the diocese is guided by the seven goals based on the Vatican’s Action Platform: response to the cry of the earth, response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, adoption of sustainable lifestyles, ecological spirituality, and community resilience and empowerment. The goals will help the Church achieve real and lasting solutions to the ecological crisis.

Environmental education, ecological spirituality and community involvement are just a few of the action items the Climate Care Committee at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Binghamton is working on. Nora Bush, a member of the task force at the parish, said all 30 members of the Climate Care Committee bring their unique God-given talents and Holy Spirit–driven ideas to the team.

The confirmation candidates at St. Francis of Assisi researched various aspects of the climate crisis and shared their findings with the Faith Formation classes. They developed climate “games” and used dialogue and PowerPoint presentations to educate the students. They also invited them to express their feelings and understanding through artwork and discussion. For a community-involvement project, the confirmation candidates participated in Earth Day at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo by hosting an information table on Laudato Si’.

In 2021, at the request of Father Tim Taugher, Bush applied for a grant from the Victory Noll Sisters Small Grants Program. The grant allowed the faith community to immerse themselves in eco-justice education, invest in the community garden, and install a solar water pump.

Bush said if everyone could do a few small things to protect our environment, the change could be significant. “If we continue the wasteful life as we know it, our children will struggle with food insecurity, climate-related disasters, forced migration, and extinctions,” she said. “I want my children and grandchildren to live on an earth that is able to sustain the wonders of God — clean water, clean air and reliable food sources.”

There are many ways to become involved with the Season of Creation movement. Contact Theresa May, associate director of Child & Family Catechesis, at tmay@syrdio.org or task force chairperson Dave Babcock at dave.babcock21@gmail.com to join or create a task force, or for information on prayers, liturgy, activities and social-justice actions.

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