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Celebrating Creation and Living Laudato Si'

Twenty parish and religious leaders from 12 parishes across the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Ballarat and Sandhurst dioceses met at St Ambrose Centre, Catholic Parish of Brunswick and Brunswick East on Saturday 14 September 2019 to celebrate the Season of Creation and identify practical actions families and parishes can take to respond to the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’. It was a rich, informative and encouraging encounter.
Highlights from the forum included a presentation by Pat Long, an experienced educator in spiritual and ecological awareness. Pat spoke on how ecological spirituality can inspire us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world. Drawing on Laudato Si’ (n216) she told us that such a commitment requires “an interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity”. Pat led us in a short meditation and reflection to better appreciate our closeness to Nature and all things. She said an ecological spirituality, one of “flesh rather than concept” is essential if we are to persevere in our commitment to action.
Bernard Holland, Director, Catholic Earthcare, Australia reflected Pat’s comments, pointing out that the encyclical calls for a personal response from each one of us, by means of a formation of the heart, commitment to personal action and to animate others, to share, to educate and celebrate the ecological message. A Catholic Earthcare Convocation is planned for 4, 5 September 2020 in Melbourne. 
Parish representatives told of initiatives in the Diocese of Ballarat and parishes of Cheltenham and Endeavour Hills in Melbourne to respond to the Pope’s encyclical. Common features included regular communication with parishioners and nearby schools, workshops on relevant topics, inclusion of Care for our Common Home themes in parish liturgy, improved waste management practices, while one parish has installed solar panels and water tanks to reduce its carbon footprint and make better use of natural resources. These “green shoots” illustrate areas for action and experience for others to adapt or adopt.
Participants agreed to pursue the setting up of an inter-parish network of support for parishes wishing to put the encyclical into practice. They agreed to write to the Bishops of Victoria, requesting that as a Church we need to respond to the Pope’s call for action, to acknowledge the importance and centrality of Care for our Common Home as part of our central mission, and to ensure the Bishops of our support through parishes, agencies and Laudato Si’ Animators groups.

Enquiries: Adrian Foley adrian.foley@css.org.au Mob 0497 780 233

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