Father Al Utzig left attendees of the first-ever diocesan Earth Day Mass on April 22 with this challenging question at the end of his homily. The Mass was hosted by St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish at its Beaumont church site.

“It’s a very important question,” said Fr. Utzig, who is the pastor of St. Mary, Fontana, and a member of the diocesan Laudato Si Committee, “because what our answer is will lead us to what we do, how we live. If we live, saying, ‘That’s enough,’ the world will be beautiful.”

While humans may be the most powerful members of the web of life, Fr. Utzig suggested in his homily that we are not the center of it, and our lifestyles and consumption habits can have a damaging effect on the ecology, which is a gift from God.

Bishop Alberto Rojas was the principal celebrant of the bilingual Mass, which marked the first time the diocese has marked Earth Day with a liturgy.

“We pray and we celebrate this Mass to create more awareness to protect our common home, as Pope Francis has described the earth,” Bishop Rojas said.

In an acknowledgement of the Catholic Native American spirituality of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who articulated a deep reverence for the elements of creation, youth from the parish presented the Prayer of the Four Directions before the start of the Earth Day Mass. Each carried a symbol representing an element of creation, including water, wind, trees, animals, fish, birds, Mother earth, the sun, the moon, the stars and the Holy Spirit.

The group of youth joined Bishop Rojas immediately after Mass for a blessing of a new statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha that was recently installed in front of the church. Another group of young people, the Future Farmers of America Chapter at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac High School in Temecula, made the trip to Beaumont for the Earth Day Mass….

As attendees left the church after Mass they were given a packet of flower seeds and a card with 10 tips to reduce their carbon footprint, symbolizing the ecological themes of the day.

Original story on Inland Catholic Byte.