The nearly 300 Covenant registered Creation Care Teams guide their parishes, schools, and religious communities in theological reflection/study on creation-care and help them learn how their consumer choices impact our common home and our more vulnerable neighbors.
St. John Neumann Church in Reston, Virginia, was recently honored by the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) with the first-ever Sustainability Champion Award in the “Congregation” category. The award recognized outstanding efforts of individual congregations “to advocate, host events, spread awareness, and be stewards of the environment.” FACS is a regional, nonpartisan group in Northern Virginia that works with congregations of all faiths to sound an ethical and spiritual call to protect the earth and its inhabitants. St. John Neumann's Care for Our Common Home Ministry has been collaborating with FACS for the last two years. Members of the ministry were on hand and honored to receive the award at FACS’s recent sustainability showcase.
2015-2016 Accomplishments to Celebrate:
- Officially launched SJN’s Care for Our Common Home ministry
- Presented a 6-week JustFaith climate change module
- Held a 3-session parish-wide discussion of Laudato Si’ upon its publication
- Received a Cool Congregation certification from Interfaith Power and Light for demonstrating energy savings
- Celebrated the Feast of St. Francis with a parish event including songs, prayers, presentations, and discussions
- Coordinated an Advent Fair Trade Bazaar with an array of eco-friendly products from indigenous artists
2017 Accomplishments to Celebrate:
- Sponsored a showing of the documentary film Bag-It, exposing the detrimental effects of plastic bags and other plastic products
- Hosted a Family Night of activities to help families with elementary school students learn how to reduce their carbon footprint
- Celebrated the Season of Creation Held a nature prayer walk to honor the World Day of Prayer for Creation
- Organized a nature photo contest for our middle and high school students
- Welcomed Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, who presented Lord, I Want to See: Viewing the World Through God’s Eyes, emphasizing how care for the poor is connected to care for creation
- Held several bird walks to appreciate God’s presence in nature
- Facilitated an Eagle Scout Project to build a pollinator garden on parish grounds Sponsored a 7-week discussion series using Fr. Dan Horan’s Understanding Laudato Si’ videos as our guide
- Sponsored a presentation on eco-friendly natural burials as an alternative to traditional burials
- Formed a Creation Care Team with Catholic Climate Covenant and holds monthly meetings complete with prayer and reflection
- Held Mercy to Earth Sunday event in April
- Hosted Climate Choices Forum in May
- Held World Day of Prayer for Creation Ecumenical Prayer Celebration on September 1
- Held Creation Care Parish Kick-Off in September
- Set up recycling/compost in September
- Hosted Common Home Energy Efficiency Resources Weekend
- Held St. Francis Evening Celebration with a Blessing of the Animals on October 4
- Promoted Carbondale Hazardous Waste Collection Day in October
- Added Green Tips for Living to weekly parish flocknote
- Encouraged parishioners to sign St. Francis/Laudato Sí Pledge
- Incorporated Laudato Sí into Religious Education curriculum
- Shared advent Laudato Sí resources widely
- Completed a parish-wide energy audit, available for reference when the parish considers building additions and updating equipment
- Started “Give up Plastic for Lent” challenge: over 300 people signed up to give up using plastic bags and bottles during Lent
- Currently working with the Plastilite Company to collect Styrofoam during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Plastilite turns the Styrofoam into surfboards, coolers, screwdriver handles, etc. The CCT sent information about the project to many of the Omaha parishes and all the Papillion churches to join them in their efforts.
- Placed a wooden box in the Social Hall and one of the entrances to the church for people to deposit dead batteries. They have been advertising this project in the bulletin and will continue into the new year.
- Held a St. Francis Day celebration with a Blessing of the Animals
The Integrity of Creation Committee at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, VA focuses its endeavors on “Education, Action and Advocacy.” The committee has met regularly for four years, and creates intentional activities to engage the parish. It has engaged the resources from the Catholic Climate Covenant to assist in prayer, reflection, as well as outreach endeavors to political figures. The Our Lady Queen of Peace’s team searches for meaningful and effective ways to reach the broad range of parishioners. It also balances times of prayerful reflection with action to make change towards a more sustainable way of life.
- Created series of bulletin reflections during Lent 2016 and 2017 that corresponded to the chapters of Laudato Si"
- Initiated petition signing and postcard mailings after weekend masses to encourage Congress to advocate for the Clean Air Act and started a bike/walk/carpool to Mass weekend
- Held a panel discussion in 2016 to offer perspectives on Laudato Si' that included Dan Misleh, Dr. Stephen Barbieri, and Dr. Leah Rampy
- Publishing weekly bulletin paragraphs on Care of Creation (ongoing)
- Including Creation in Prayers of the Faithful at Sunday liturgy (ongoing)
- Holding monthly CCT meetings (ongoing)
- Assessed carbon footprint of parish
- Completed energy audit using local utility company
- Made infrastructure improvements in lighting, water use and boiler control
Fall 2016: Established a 5-year goal (2016-2021)
- Become a carbon neutral parish
- Help 100 parish families assess their carbon footprints
- Encourage 40 parish families to make significant carbon reductions
- Began Phase One of the Carbon Neutral Parish Plan.
- Installed 66 solar PV panels that produce about 10% of parish electricity with clean, pollution free, renewable energy. They use the savings to buy clean renewable wind power from our utility. Phase One will reduce their carbon footprint by more than 30%. Five months of operation indicate that the project is working as planned.
Current plans and projects for 2018:
- Plan Phase Two of the solar PV install
- Take advantage of Catholic Climate Covenant’s programs for greater parish outreach and education for both parish and school
- Evaluate lighting upgrades for the school
- Conduct in-depth evaluation of electrical use
- Develop and implement a media plan to spread the word about solar collectors on houses of worship and about Creation Care Teams
- Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, City Heights, is organizing a walk through their neighborhood in January to pick up trash.
- Sacred Heart, Ocean Beach walked with their banner in the Christmas Parade.
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Lakeside, hosted a table at their recent Ministry Fair in the parish hall after all morning Masses.
- St. Didacus, Normal Heights, meets regularly. They have a Community Garden in the area started by the mother of one their members and named after her: “Vera House Community Garden”. There are 11 plots, all open to resident participation.
- St. Thomas More, Oceanside, meets regularly and has high participation. They organized a visit to a local botanical garden to observe and learn home garden practices.
- St. Brigids, Pacific Beach, held a blessing of the animals for the Feast of St. Francis. They have the “Grupo de los Veinte" ("The Group of Twenty”) in their parish. They held fundraisers and sent a delegation to the Andes Mts. of Peru to install small solar panels outside adobe houses and support a residence for students who walk long distances each day to get to school.
- St. Francis of Assisi, Vista, has a Creation Care Team in English and is considering starting one in Spanish. They had representatives at the October 24th celebration at the Pastoral Center. Their parish is installing solar panels on car-ports in their parking lot.
- St. Catherine Laboure, San Diego, had workshops in both English and Spanish and is planning to start meeting in January. Their parish is installing solar panels on the roof of their church.