The Franciscans are seeking to ignite a revolution. It is a call to a holistic ecological and social transformation within the Franciscan life and ministry as well as within the larger world.
The Laudato Si’ Revolution was officially launched by the Order, appropriately on May 24. That day marks the fifth anniversary of the encyclical in which the pope provides a coherent vision for addressing the current social and climate crises that threaten the survival of the human civilization and much of life on earth.
Like many Catholics around the world, the friars and their partners-in-ministry paid tribute this year to the anniversary of the encyclical’s release. But by rolling out the Laudato Si’ Revolution website, the Franciscans kicked off a yearlong initiative to delve into its prophetic message and put it into action.
In a special video, the Order’s Minister General, Michael Perry, OFM, offered his thoughts on why the time is now to act on Pope Francis’s encyclical.
“This is not the time to close in on ourselves,” said Michael. “Laudato Si’ encourages us to reach out, to step out.” In his video-recorded message, Michael reminds viewers that all of humankind is connected – that the cry of the poor is our cry, and that the cry of the earth is every inhabitant’s cry.
“The Laudato Si’ Revolution is not a revolution in the political sense, but a spiritual revolution. It is a conversion of mind and heart that brings us closer to the reality of life,” says Michael, the Order’s Minister General since 2013.
Friars and their lay partners-in-ministry are encouraged to take part in the Laudato Si’ Revolution – which will conclude in May 2021 at the Order’s General Chapter.
The General Minister and the Franciscan Order invite all to join this global revolution – a campaign whose resources incorporate the values of social and economic justice, care for creation, and intergenerational solidarity into daily life to help change the world for the better.
“It is important to stay focused on Laudato Si’ because it is so much more than a single-issue encyclical,” said Jud Weiksnar, OFM, chair of the Province’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate. “In its call for integral ecology, it reminds us that everything is connected. If we truly listen to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, we will have a framework for addressing how we move forward to ensure a beautiful home for future generations.”
Programs Inform and Educate
Friars throughout the Province have been making their voices heard about the important ideas expressed in the pope’s 2015 encyclical.
On June 20, the OFM JPIC Office in Rome sponsored a special webinar called “Voices of the People: Climate Change and Ecological Conversion.” It featured personal testimonies, short videos, and presentations from around the world — Australia, Myanmar, Kenya, and Guatemala. The engaging, one-hour presentation with information from around the world can be viewed here:
“Like COVID-19, the climate crisis challenges humanity to a radical transformation: spiritual, moral, social, economic, and political,” said Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, a member of the Order’s Commission on JPIC. “The webinar presents an opportunity for us as Franciscans to listen to the voices of people around the globe –to their struggles and the cry for justice. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through them and our Franciscan vow of obedience challenges us to heed to the voices of the people.”
As part of the Laudato Si’ Revolution initiative, the Franciscan JPIC Office in Rome will be offering an online course for friars and partners-in-ministry beginning on Sept. 7. The 10 short video sessions featuring a diverse group of presenters, along with the corresponding reading material, are designed to inform, inspire and mobilize the Franciscan family to undertake concrete, transformative action in parishes, schools, and local communities. In its next newsletter issue, HNP Today will provide details on how to register for the course.
As part of the Laudato Si’ Revolution engagement of friars in the six provinces participating in restructuring, Ed Tverdek, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, recently gave a series of four online workshops – one-hour each — on ecological conversion and lifestyle changes.
“We hope that more friars from Holy Name Province and their partners-in-ministry will avail themselves of this great resource,” said Jacek. “The call to ecological conversion that, in turn, informs lifestyle changes is an important aspect of the Revitalization Process of the OFM provinces in the United States.”
The Catholic Climate Covenant and the Association of United States Catholic Priests have provided resources for homilists that help integrate the rich insights of Laudato Si’ and Christian care for creation into Sunday Mass. Their “Homily Helps” includes highlights from the Sunday scripture readings, relevant quotations from Laudato Si’, illustrations and anecdotes, the prayers of the faithful, and other useful information. The Homily Helps can be found on this link here. People also may opt to subscribe and receive them by email.
The current issue of Contact, the order’s quarterly JPIC publication, provides articles by friars around the world about the Laudato Si’ Revolution and how its message relates to the pandemic, migration and other social issues. The feature by Angelito Cortez, OFM, is especially recommended.
In addition to other activities throughout the anniversary month of the encyclical’s release, all Catholics were invited on May 24 to pray a common prayer at noon local time as a symbol of global solidarity.
Friars and partners-in-ministry have participated in many events over the last few months to mark the anniversary that have included panel discussions and prayer services.
In Triangle, Virginia, John O’Connor, OFM, said St. Francis of Assisi Parish held a Virtual Eco-Summit from May 18 to 24, with different events held each day. In St. Petersburg, Florida, George Corrigan, OFM, of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, participated in a May 13 panel discussion, “A Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue on Laudato Si’ and Disease Outbreaks,” which was covered by local media.
Russell Testa, director of the Province’s JPIC Office, would like friars and partners-in-ministry to stay focused during this year-long revolution on the themes of Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical, and to take advantage of the resources available to them.
“We are providing tools and guidance to help ministries of Holy Name Province use social analysis as they discern, work to address climate change, and enact the message that Pope Francis shared in Laudato Si,’” he said.
“As Franciscans, the challenge of Laudato Si’ is at the core of our charism – those persons who are poor, as well as the non-human components of God’s creation, are crying out for action. If we cannot find a way to respond as followers of St. Francis, then we may really be in trouble. The Laudato Si’ Revolution gives me hope because there is still time to act,” Testa said.
— Compiled by Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, Russ Testa and Jocelyn Thomas
- “Catholics and evangelicals discuss the environment and disease outbreaks” – May 18, 2020, Tampa Bay Times
- “Earth Day Reflections on Environment and Pandemic” – April 27, 2020, HNP Today
- “Laudato Si’ Week Promoted by Curia” — March 9, 2020, HNP Today
- “Franciscans Welcome Laudato Si’” — June 24, 2015, HNP Today