In building on the Franciscan heritage of respecting creation and caring for the environment, Holy Name Province ministries are joining in the global celebration of Earth Day 2015, commemorating it with activities that range from educational to recreational.
Beginning this weekend, they are publishing information in parish bulletins about preserving the integrity of creation, screening the film Chasing Ice to educate and spark dialogue and action around the issue of climate change, and offering Earth Day fairs to engage people around different earth justice issues — to name just a few. As the informational document says, “We are to live in relationships that will lead to the good of the entire family of creation, both human and non-human.”
In Maryland, St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring is marking Earth Day, commemorated nationally on April 22, in still another way: by continuing its peaceful advocacy efforts focused on metallic mining in El Salvador. Mining is one of the top environmental justice issues for the Franciscan Order worldwide. Actions around the issue can bring advocates into solidarity with the poor in impoverished countries and make clear their commitment to creation care.
Advocacy against mineral mining in El Salvador has been very important to St. Camillus, which is proud to have one of the largest Salvadoran diaspora in the U.S. among its community. During the last two years, hundreds of St. Camillus parishioners have been involved in the effort that has included education, prayer and robust advocacy action.
The specific case on which the St. Camillus community has focused centers on the efforts of the Pacific Rim/Oceana-Gold trans-national corporations. These companies seek to excavate gold from El Salvador while poisoning the country’s main source of drinking water, and trampling on the will and sovereignty of its people. The situation clearly shows how the destruction of the environment and systemic injustice against the poor are intimately related.
Province ministries and others are invited to join in this environmental justice work by signing and circulating this petition.
The Province’s Earth Day events are not confined to its church communities. This year, Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, N.C., is extending its Earth Day fair to allow students from Immaculata School to come to see the exhibits, and at St. Francis of Assisi’s Franciscan School in Raleigh, each class will be able to engage with a variety of groups, agencies and guest speakers about environmental concerns.
In Western New York, St. Bonaventure University will host a forum on sustainable energy and the environment on April 16. Siena College outside Albany, N.Y., will welcome Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J, on April 23 who will speak at 7 p.m. in the Sarazan Student Center. Her talk, “Is God’s Charity Broad Enough for Bears?”, will be recorded and subsequently posted on the Franciscan Center for Catholic Studies webpage.
To learn more about the Franciscan perspective on creation care and climate change, visit the Justice and Peace section of the HNP website. Information is also available on the Franciscans for Ecology website, which was launched last year to mark the 35th anniversary of the naming of St. Francis as the patron of ecology.
— Fran Eskin-Royer is a staff member in the HNP office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Silver Spring, Md.
Editor’s note: The HNP Communications Office welcomes friars as well as representatives from ministries – parishes, schools and other entities – to submit brief reports about how they are caring for creation.