20 August 2021, The Tablet

Bishops lead preparation for Season of Creation

Bishops lead preparation for Season of Creation

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington plants a tree at St Mary’s School in Landover Hills, Md. Bishops worldwide are actively engaging with Laudato Si’.
CNS photo/Andrew Biraj, Catholic Standard

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have given a big push this year to the Season of Creation.

The global ecumenical celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home, Planet Earth, starts each year on September 1 and finishes on the feast of St Francis, October 4. Pope Francis has been promoting the Season and the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation.

Cafod’s webpage on the Season of Creation provides Liturgy resources to help parishes celebrate the Season and a Climate Sunday Mass in September. The urgency of care of creation was highlighted on 9 August by the latest UN Climate Report, which signalled a “code red” for humankind in terms of extreme weather events, and by the UK hosting the COP26 climate summit in November, which Pope Francis may attend.

The parish of Blessed James Bell in Warrington, Liverpool diocese is among those that have worked to integrate the message of Laudato Si’ into the life of their parish. A presbytery garden has been turned into a green space for the local community and a tree planted in the lawn in memory of those who have died of Covid-19.

St Peter’s Catholic High School in Manchester has an eco-committee of 100 students, about 10 per cent of the entire school. It has been reducing the school’s carbon footprint and engaging with the wider community on environmental protection. Pupils’ activities have included planting trees, building “bug hotels”, energy monitoring, “switch-off” initiatives, litter picks and more. They have cut St Peter’s carbon footprint in half.

Bishop of Salford John Arnold, lead bishop for the environment, has set up a Laudato Si’ centre in the grounds of his residence at Wardley Hall, where fruit and vegetables are grown, and an orchard and forest gardens provide “growing spaces that demonstrate the interconnectivity that exists between humanity and nature”. A  60,000-strong bee population has been cultivated on the grounds, complete with volunteer beekeepers harvesting honey that is now sold around the area. The Laudato Si’ Centre provides educational materials for schools and there have been competitions, including one to design a logo that received more than 500 entries, and a nature photography competition that received more than 300 entries.

The Catholic bishops have also helped develop the Guardians of Creation project, along with Cafod, the Laudato Si’ Movement, St Mary’s University and the Diocese of Salford to help the Catholic community in England and Wales work towards a carbon-neutral and more sustainable future, inspired by Laudato Si’. A report, Guidance on developing strategy for decarbonising Catholic diocesan building stocks, was issued in June 2021 to help dioceses  decarbonise their buildings. The first round of resources will be ready in Autumn 2021 and following a year of trial and review an updated set will be released in Autumn 2022.











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