Ministries Celebrate ‘Laudato Si’’

Maria Hayes Around the Province


Just before the noon Mass began on June 28 at St. Mary Parish, the church’s bells rang out for one minute as an invitation to its neighbors in Pompton Lakes, N.J., and beyond.

The joyful noise welcomed the world to celebrate the much-anticipated release of “Laudato Si’,” the pope’s encyclical on poverty and care for creation. St. Mary’s was one of many churches around Holy Name Province — and around the world — that rang bells as part of the celebration, organized by, a faith-based group that advocates for the climate.

This marked the beginning of a series of events around the Province that seek to educate local communities about the impact of climate change on the global community, especially the poor.

Justice and peace groups across the U.S. are reviewing the encyclical and determining the best way to share its message. At St. Mary’s, the group Advocates for Justice will give a presentation about the encyclical on Oct. 28, according to Jackie Schramm, director of the parish’s social justice ministry.

The parish also plans to launch a website on Labor Day weekend that will provide a venue to educate, advocate and act on the issues of climate change, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and fracking. “This falls squarely within the call-to-action that Pope Francis is issuing in his new encyclical,” said Schramm.

Several friars have shared their reflections through a series of videos produced by HNP’s Franciscan Vocation Ministry. These videos are available on Facebook and can be shared across various platforms.

“Conservative politicians are criticizing the pope, talking about how it’s not his place to be speaking about these things,” said Joseph Nangle, OFM, in the most recent video. “For me, as a person of faith, every economic decision is a theological statement.”

He added, “Pope Francis looks at life from the point of view of the poor and how the destruction of our planet affects the poor in the first place. I think that’s what we need to do — view the threats to our planet through the eyes of the poor.” 


The pope’s call for change is being heard by people of all faiths. Christians, Muslims and Jews from more than 20 congregations in Raleigh, N.C., gathered together in song and prayer during an Interfaith Prayer Vigil at St. Francis of Assisi Church on June 28. Members of each community read excerpts from the scriptures, from the writings of St. Francis and from the encyclical itself.

“It was a nice turnout, with a reception afterwards, and a witness to the importance of our pope’s prophetic words,” said pastor Steven Patti, OFM.

One of the most powerful parts of the evening was the feeling of hope that permeated the air, according to David McBriar, OFM, and Becky Moritz-Cawley, the justice and peace specialist for the Raleigh parish.

“Our hearts watched as gratitude, joy, reverence and beauty weaved their way throughout the room as in the encyclical itself,” wrote David and Moritz-Cawley. “But perhaps the most beautiful gift that resonated through St. Mary of the Angels Chapel that evening was hope. Hope that all people will remember that we are dust of our good earth, that we ‘breathe her air’ and eat her fruit; hope that people everywhere will rediscover the dignity and worth of every living thing and embrace our connectedness with wonder and awe; hope that our renewed commitment to action will heal our wounded world and all peoples in it; and finally hope that it’s not too late.”

Sheila Read, a leader in the parish’s Care of Creation and Climate Change ministry, gave a powerful reflection on the Holy Father’s encyclical, David said.


Members from the Raleigh community gathered at St. Francis Church. (Photo courtesy of Diogenes Ruiz)

At St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., parishioners signed a petition calling on local, national and international leaders to drastically cut carbon emissions in order to keep the global temperature rise below the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, and to aid the poor in coping with the impacts of climate change. This petition is being circulated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement before the U.N. climate summit planned for November. Pope Francis endorsed the petition earlier this year.

Those interested in signing the petition can do so online.

Members of St. Camillus Parish — including Erick López, OFM, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, and Ottoniel Perez, OFS — also shared their sense of call to act on climate in their parishes with the Interfaith Power & Light in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. The organization partnered with the Latino Outreach program at the Maryland League of Conservation Voters to speak with more than 40 Catholic climate leaders in the area.

“We must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle to save life on our fragile planet,” Erick said. “I hope the encyclical calls us to a deep personal and communal conversion to expand our love in all directions to everything that surrounds us, and helps us to change the way we eat and live.”


Ministries planning events focusing on the pope’s encyclical are encouraged to contact the communications office.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.