In early 2020, members of the newly formed creation care committee at St. Anthony Parish, in Sacramento, were exploring ways to raise ecological issues within the parish. They had begun education efforts around Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home for themselves and the rest of the parish, including through the weekly bulletin. Now they were looking for an anchor project to put Catholic teaching about the environment into action.
They decided to install solar panels on the roof of the parish’s Memorial Center, and by May 2022, the full 82-kilowatt, 181-panel system was ready to power up, producing enough energy to cover the parish’s electricity needs. But the solar project served as a first step toward flipping the switch on a wider effort to electrify the entire Sacramento Diocese in living out the message of Laudato Si’….
As the solar project moved forward, St. Anthony parishioners were meeting with other creation care groups in the diocese to brainstorm ways to partner and build off each other’s work.
“We noticed that we were operating in silos. Each parish was doing good stuff, but we weren’t integrated at all,” said Betsy Reifsnider, a member of the social justice committee at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in midtown Sacramento.
They became interested in getting the Sacramento Diocese more involved, primarily by elevating Laudato Si’ in its own ministries and in providing an outlet for parishes to meet and share resources, said Reifsnider, who before retiring worked with the Sierra Club and as the first environmental justice coordinator for the Diocese of Stockton, California….
In September, during the Season of Creation, the Sacramento Diocese officially kicked off its entry into the Laudato Si’ Action Platform with an event at St. Anthony Catholic Church, in rural Winters.
To aid those efforts, the diocese has produced a care for creation parish toolkit, in both English and Spanish, that gives background on the seven goals of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, information about environmental justice and resources from Catholic Climate Covenant on creating creation care teams.
The diocese has initially focused on three of the action platform’s seven goals — response to the cry of the earth, response to the cry of the poor, and ecological education — and created reflection guides on each for parish pastoral councils.
The Sacramento Diocese has organized regional meetings on creation care for the northern part of the diocese, the Sacramento area and the Yolo-Solano counties in its southern boundaries. In addition, it has added to the liturgical calendar Rogation Days (May) and Ember Days (September) to mark periods of planting and harvesting. An emergency preparedness virtual course is in the works.
In May an ecumenical prayer service will kick off Laudato Si’ Week.
Full story at National Catholic Reporter.
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