Order Offers Integral Ecology Course — Free and Online

Jacek Orzechowski, OFM Friar News

Members of the Order’s JPIC International Council at their meeting in Jerusalem last year. (Photo courtesy of the author)

In May, Minister General Michael Perry, OFM, marked the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’, launching a video message announcing the Order’s yearlong Laudato Si’ Revolution. Details about this important initiative – views and news from people around the world – can be found in the recent issues of Contact, the quarterly bulletin from the OFM Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, published in July and in March.

Now, as part of the Laudato Si’ Revolution, the Order of Friars Minor is offering an online course on Integral Ecology.  The course is meant for formation students and solemnly-professed friars, young people in our schools and parishes, and for older people who want to deepen their Christian commitment and respond to the cry of the poor and cry of the earth.

This free course, which begins Sept. 7, will consist of weekly, pre-recorded 10-minute video presentations with approximately five pages of reading material and a simple quiz at the end. For those who would like to do more, we’ll provide additional material with links to some videos and reading material. Details about the course can be found in this video:

The sessions of the Laudato Si’ Integral Ecology course will be led by a diverse group of presenters. Their biographies are available online.

One of the video presenters is Yamide Dagnet, a scientist and international climate change negotiator currently working at the World Resource Institute. Yamide will expound on chapter II of Laudato Si’ by highlighting what is happening to our common home and what we can do about it.

In the second session, Keith Warner, OFM, from Santa Clara University in California will speak about the ecological conversion as a key Franciscan theme of Laudato Si’ and some of the amazing things he has been doing. He will also describe Pope Francis’s critiques “the technocratic paradigm.”

In the third session, Sr. Dawn Nothwehr, OFS, a professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, will expound on one of the chapters of Laudato Si’ called “The Gospel of Creation.” In the fourth session, Steeven Kezamutima from Kenya, who represents Laudato Si’ Generation Africa will reflect on Pope Francis’ teachings on integral ecology from the experience of the global environmental and racial injustice from the perspective of Global South.

In the fifth session, a Franciscan friar, Peter Lyons, TOR, a professor at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, will cover the topic of seeking justice and protecting all life from the coherent social and environment at approach.

In the sixth session, Ed Tverdek, OFM, a Sacred Heart Province member who teaches at CTU, will provide an overview of the path of ecological conversion and how it plays out in individual lifestyles, as well as institutional and systemic change. In the seventh session, Toby Harkleroad, a principal of St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland, will discuss comprehensive ecological education and spirituality for social transformation.

The eighth session will be led by Paul Campion, a young grassroots community organizer with the Sunrise Movement. He plans to focus on social and political engagement and the urgent need for ordinary people to get involved in social movements and to help restore “healthy politics.”

The ninth session will feature our two interfaith guests — Imam Mohamed Khan and Joelle Novey, a Jewish environmental leader. They will be speaking about Laudato Si’ in the spirit of Assisi about the importance of interfaith partnership in tackling the climate emergency and other critical social issues of our time.

The tenth and last session will be devoted to assisting participants in developing and implementing Laudato Si’-inspired project at parishes, schools, and in the broader community. Those projects, when completed, will be featured on the global, Franciscan map that can be found on the Order’s Laudato Si’ Revolution website.

Course participants will receive a certificate of completion from a Franciscan institution.

Those who are interested in participating are invited to pre-register by clicking this link.

— Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a member of the JPIC Animation Committee of the Order and is coordinating this Laudato Si’ Revolution course. He currently ministers at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.