By Angela Lincoln, teacher at Assumption High School, Louisville, Kentucky
Angela 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.
I remember waiting patiently for the release of Laudato Si’. As a teacher at Assumption High School in Louisville, Kentucky, and the director of our school’s Environmental Concerns Committee, I kept telling the students that Pope Francis was preparing a very special teaching on caring for creation and that once it was published we would have much to discuss. Unfortunately, Laudato Si’ came out in the middle of June, so we couldn’t begin to unpack it together until the following fall.
As I’ve worked with Laudato Si’ over the past two years, I realize the depth and challenge of the encyclical’s message will give our school community ideas to process and implement for a lifetime.
Laudato Si’ Animators Program
That’s why I was excited to learn about the Laudato Si’ animators program. We need as many forums and programs as possible to get Catholics, and non-Catholics as well, familiar with the insightful and prophetic teachings of Laudato Si’. During my time as an animator, I completed three webinar sessions. One session outlined the current data on climate change. The second explained the Church’s teachings on climate change with an emphasis on Pope Francis’ encyclical. The final session explored ways to seek systemic change for a healthier climate. Those webinars prepared me for my culminating project, to plan an event during the Season of Creation. During this season, from September 1 through October 4, Christians across denominations and around the world are invited to pray and care for creation.
Rally to Protect Creation
For my event, I decided to provide avenues for Catholic school students to respond to Laudato Si’ by witnessing to the ways they care for creation. The Environmental Concerns Committee at my school will coordinate two activities. One is a public rally on October 4 (PDF) for all Catholic school students and faculty who care about the environment. We will gather from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. that day at a prominent intersection in the city with signs that state the ways we protect creation. Signs might say, “I protect creation by taking shorter showers” or, “I protect creation by eating less meat.” Each sign will include the hashtag #RallyToProtectCreation. We want our chants and signs to encourage motorists and pedestrians to think about their own actions and how they impact our planet.
The second activity is an invitation to make a sign during the school day that states an action taken to protect creation. On October 4, students and faculty should take a selfie with their sign, then post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #RallyToProtectCreation. My committee is hoping that hundreds of young people will participate in one of these two actions.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes: “…young people have a new ecological sensitivity and a generous spirit, and some of them are making admirable efforts to protect the environment.” In my decades of Catholic education, I have found this to be true. My goal with this project is to give witness to these “admirable efforts.”
If you are interested in becoming a Laudato Si’ animator, please contact Marianne Comfort of the Institute Justice team at email@example.com.