Another meeting – and an all-day meeting at that! But, how could I say no when it meant gathering with a group of committed lay parish leaders passionate about caring for the people of God and our Common Home, Planet Earth.
The main reason for this retreat was to revisit Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement’s (MNYCCM) strategic plan considering Laudate Deum and the national and global climate emergencies of this past summer. Earlier in October on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Laudate Deum, was released. In it, Pope Francis laments the inadequate response in addressing the climate crisis and caring for those most impacted by it. Click here to read Laudate Deum. Click here to read the last IPCC March 2023 report written before the summer (2023 summer was hottest on record). Click here to read scientist James Hansen’s latest report. Though there is a growing awareness and effort to educate and advocate among scientific, faith and other groups, the political will to effect change and work for the common good is not present. In Laudate Deum Pope Francis reminds us “that it is necessary to be honest and recognize that the most effective solutions will not come from individual efforts alone, but above all from major political decisions on the national and international level.” (LD69).
MNYCCM sees Laudate Deum as a roadmap that will guide us as we continue to support and network with parishes and parish leaders in working together towards sustainable lifegiving solutions that address the climate crisis and needs of those at risk and vulnerable.
Some background on MNYCCM might be helpful. The Steering Committee has met monthly online since Covid-19. Before Covid, the Steering Committee met regularly in different parishes and hosted larger in-person MNYCCM / parish events. This past September, we gathered for our first Season of Creation Mass sponsored by both MNYCCM and St. Ignatius Loyola Parish (which hosted us). It was wonderful to celebrate Season of Creation together and to gather after Mass to hear what various parishes are doing around Laudato Si’ and care for Creation. MNYCCM and parishes have partnered in hosting viewings of The Letter which invites all of us to listen to the cries of the Earth and her peoples and to respond in hope! Each of us is being called.
There are signs of hope! That is what I saw and experienced at MNYCCM’s October 28th Strategic Planning Retreat on Saturday on the beautiful grounds of Mount Saint Vincent with its views of the majestic Hudson River and Palisades. We viewed short sections of inspiring presentations. If interested in viewing, click here to listen to Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker in Laudato Si’ Movement’s webinar, Deepening Our Communion With All Creation. Fast forward to 17:15 minutes; go until 31:10 minutes. Click here to hear Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s ideas on ways to talk about climate change. Start at 22 minutes until 35:50 minutes. We heard what parishes are doing, from starting Care of Creation parish teams, planting gardens, joining in cleaning up outdoor spaces (streets, parks and along shorelines), sustainability and advocacy around single use plastic, water, clean safe renewable energy, etc. One major initiative has been to educate ourselves and U.S. legislators on The Earth Bill and to urge them to co-sponsor it. MNYCCM has its beginning in the 2015 publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical to all people: Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home. We continue to be guided and formed by the gospel, Catholic Social principles, Fratelli Tutti and the recent Apostolic Exhortation, Laudate Deum. And as mentioned above, Laudate Deum will be a roadmap for MNYCCM. I invite readers of this article to reflect on this newest Apostolic Exhortation, with special attention to Pope Francis’ call to “rethink among other things the question of human power, its meaning and its limits” (LD28) and his sentence in LD38, “I reiterate that “unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment.” (LD38).
We invite you to find out more about MNYCCM and to sign up to receive emails at firstname.lastname@example.org The emails keep us informed on what parishes and MNYCCM are doing on care for God’s people and our Common Home. We invite you to join us on this faith journey as we work for a life-giving future for our children and future generations.
–Carol De Angelo, SC and a MNYCCM Steering Committee member, November 2023