During Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations last week, he emphasized points he made earlier this year in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” saying, “We human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. … Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.”
Following the example of the Holy Father and St. Francis, many ministries have made environmental justice the focus of their Francis feast celebrations. The patron saint of the environment is celebrated each year on Oct. 4.
Exploring ‘Laudato Si’’
During the pope’s visit to New York City, St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street held several discussions focused on environmental justice, including “From the Margins to the Frontlines: Dialogues for Justice, the Public Interest and the Common Good.” The talk questioned whether the United Nation’s new development agenda can create a just and transformative mode of sustainable development. Speakers who have experienced the devastation caused by climate change shared their stories with those present.
On Sept. 30, Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, is leading a discussion titled “Understanding and Living Laudato Si’.” The presentation, considered the keynote, of the parish’s Francis Week events, will focus on the principal themes and key points of the pope’s encyclical, and will explore practical ways to respond to his message.
In Durham, N.C., Immaculate Conception Parish has launched a series titled “Our Common Home: A Series of Dialogues About Our Earth in Light of Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’’.” Charles Miller, OFM, and Alan Townsend, dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of Environment, led the first discussion, “The Current State of Our Common Home: Areas of Scientific Disagreement and Consensus.” The Common Home series will continue on Monday evenings until Oct. 19 and will feature Franciscans, leaders from the Islamic and Jewish communities, professors from nearby universities, and state senators. Details are available on the parish website.
On Oct. 3, the Durham community will come together for a bilingual Mass and multicultural festival. “We are called by Jesus to be ‘the salt of the earth,’” parish leaders noted in the bulletin. “In the 21st century, we realize that every culture throughout all time has used salt to preserve and flavor food. … Beyond our physical attributes and cultural heritage, we are individually diverse yet united in seeking Christ.” All are welcome to the 5:30 p.m. liturgy, which will be followed by a multicultural festival.
The HNP Development Office is offering a new brochure, “Canticle of the Sun,” to friars and their ministries. The resource is available free of charge, said David Convertino, OFM, executive director, adding, “We simply request that you pay for shipping and handling charges.” Orders can be placed through staff member Barbara Sincaglia at email@example.com and 212-564-8862.
Other Franciscan Events
Why did Pope Francis choose the name Francis? Daniel Horan, OFM, will reflect on this during a talk titled “Francis of Assisi and Francis of Rome” being held Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Daniel will discuss how Pope Francis has quickly and unexpectedly changed the face of Catholicism.
The St. Mary’s series of Franciscan talks continues with an explanation of the San Damiano Cross led by pastor Frank Sevola, OFM, at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 13. Frank will speak about the rich symbols of the cross and how they speak to us today. The series will conclude with a presentation by Ian Cron, author of “Chasing Francis.” The book chronicles Cron’s discovery of the richness of the heritage of St. Francis of Assisi.
In Florida, Sacred Heart Parish will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the friars at the parish and the feast of St. Francis with a special Mass of Belonging at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts downtown. A point of pride for the parish is its diversity — parishioners travel from 50 different zip codes of the five counties of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to attend Mass.
“We’ll celebrate the wonderful gift to the Church that was Francis of Assisi back in the 12th century and the gift of the Franciscan movement that brought his followers here to Sacred Heart 10 years ago,” said Daniel Kenna, OFM, in a message to parishioners. “But most importantly, we’ll celebrate ourselves as the Body of Christ living and strong in the heart of downtown Tampa.”
In Triangle, Va., and Raleigh, N.C., both St. Francis of Assisi parishes will host their annual Francis Fests to celebrate their patron saint. Both events feature food, music and games for Franciscans of all ages.
As is tradition, Franciscans will gather the evening on Oct. 3 to mark the death of St. Francis with the Transitus and the feast with a special liturgy on Oct. 4. Many parishes will also offer a special blessing of the animals this weekend, an acknowledgement of St. Francis’ role as patron saint of the environment and his deep reverence for all of creation.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Province Commemorates St. Francis” — Oct. 8, 2014, HNP Today
- “Franciscan Friars Energized by Pope Francis’s Encyclical” — June 18, 2015 news release
- “General Minister Welcomes Pope Francis to Church of San Damiano” — Oct. 9, 2013, HNP Today