October 3, 2017
By Sister Suzanne Gallagher
Sister Suzanne is a member of the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Laudato Si’ animators program, which trains interested Catholics to engage parishes, schools, communities of women religious and other groups to live out Pope Francis’ call to care for our Common Home.
Sisters gather for a photo following Sister Suzanne’s Season of Creation presentation. From left: Sisters Joan Scary, Sue Gallagher, Kathleen Ann McKee, Patricia Leipold, Alice Mary Meehan, Miriam Theresa Lavelle and Bonita Smith.
My interest in becoming a Laudato Si’ Animator seemed to be part of a natural movement from working on issues to protect our Earth, which is a Critical Concern of the Sisters of Mercy, to contemplating the expression of Pope Francis’ urgency to “care for our common home” as he urged in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, published in 2015. Encouragement to truly “care” for Earth came directly from witnessing what so many people are doing, putting their spirit, voice and body on the line to make a difference in sustaining all life and supporting movements and advocacy efforts. It reminds me of one of my favorite Laudato Si’ quotes: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to address the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation” (#14).
Laudato Si’ Animators Program
In the second iteration of the animators program in which I participated, 364 people registered to participate. Catholics from Kenya, Philippines, Australia, United Kingdom, United States and other countries have participated in the program, which is offered in three additional languages, with more programs to be offered in the future.
The program was comprised of several components including: three webinars containing presentations from international experts, online discussion sessions, regional calls and planning a final project. All these components were available online. I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the material from these webinars because while portions of the lessons were a refresher, much was new and held a deeper learning.
Engaging Others to Respond
In response to Pope Francis’ call to care for our Common Home, the Season of Creation is celebrated by people of faith beginning on September 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4, Feast of St. Francis. For the final project, I assisted in planning Season of Creation presentations in five retirement locations across the Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sisters of Mercy. These sessions included prayer, video, reflection and dialogue among participants along with a call to action to sign the Laudato Si’ pledge. Signers pledge to: 1) pray for and with creation, 2) live more simply, and 3) advocate to protect our common home.
In expanding my own knowledge through this program, I have in turn shared these helpful resources with others. One resource that I found very valuable is entitled How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. This series of articles, among others, boosted my courage to engage others who might have different ideas on this topic.
Being a participant in the Animators Program has been both a call and a challenge and has assisted me in developing a “new consciousness” in working “zealously toward the sustainability of all life” (Chapter 2017 Recommitment). I encourage others to participate!
If you are interested in becoming a Laudato Si’ animator, please contact Marianne Comfort of the Institute Justice team at email@example.com.