Celebrating Our Creation Care Teams

The over 400 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 Creation Care Team, Lilburn Georgia

Creation Care Team Final


  • To implement the Laudato Si Action Plan throughout all ministries at St. John Neumann Church and School.
  • To integrate these activities into the Spanish and Anglo communities at St. John Neumann Church.
  • To create an ethic of caring for our earth and one another in our church, school and in our homes.
  • To disseminate these principles throughout our communities where we live, work and play.


At St. John Neumann we are following Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home, Mother Earth by creating an ethic of conservation. We are using the Laudato Si Action Plan as our guide. This document was developed and reviewed by a group of interdisciplinary, interfaith scientists at the University of Georgia. It is a practical guide for all faiths to care for the earth. A movement has begun among all religions to address climate change and environmental degradation as a moral imperative.


At St. John Neumann we are following Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home, Mother Earth by creating an ethic of conservation. We are using the Laudato Si Action Plan as our guide. This document was developed and reviewed by a group of interdisciplinary, interfaith scientists at the University of Georgia. It is a practical guide for all faiths to care for the earth. A movement has begun among all religions to address climate change and environmental degradation as a moral imperative.

Parish Activities and Education

  1. Susan Varlamoff spoke from the pulpit to gather support for the project and to establish a Creation Care Team – 45 people signed up
  2. Formed a Creation Care Steering Committee that meets every other month to strategize. Pastor Fr. Sunny attends most meetings.
  3. Created a Creation Care video used for Earth Day and to showcase the program.
  4. Used Green Shortz videos on the parish monitors to give tips on living green.
  5. Provide weekly eco-tips in English and Spanish to follow the liturgical and natural seasons. These tips are based on the Action Plan.
  6. Planted a Laudato Si native tree (Shumard Oak) in the natural area surrounding the blessed mother.
  7. Planted a native dogwood tree with the local Lutheran church to show solidarity on creation care.
  8. Boy scouts through 13 eagle scout awards constructed outdoor stations of the cross in the woods.
  9. Invited Kat Doyle to the parish to speak about the Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.
  10. Organized two Mulch Days to spread mulch on all beds. 50 people turned out.
  11. A Laudato Si educational series is planned for the fall of 2019.

Energy Conservation & Efficiency –  Energy savings about 20%

  1. Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL) conducted energy audit (2012) on the church and administration building to determine baseline energy use and opportunities for energy reduction.
  2. St. John Church received a $3,000 grant from Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to change all conventional lights to LED bulbs.
  3. The Creation Care Team will apply for another grant in the fall of 2019 for attic insulation.
  4. Energy use is on a downward trend.
  5. Installed motion sensor in church rest rooms.
  6. Temperature set at levels to minimize energy use.
  7. Turn off lights in unused areas.
  8. Lights in chapel are controlled by an on/off motion sensor.
  9. All air conditioning units upgraded to energy efficient models.
  10. HVAC in church on programmed schedule.
  11. All AC filters changed quarterly.
  12. Admin building`s outside lights controlled via photo-cells.
  13. Sanitizer in Reynolds Hall kitchen runs on a 90 second cycle.
  14. Conversion of Administrative Area to LED Lights and Fixtures
  15. Spotlight conversion to LED spot lamps
  16. Fluorescent cost of conversion – 4” fixture, lamp and parts
  17. Install U fixture, lamp and parts

Purchasing and Recycling

  1. Recycling program established. Reduced waste going to the landfill by 50%.
  2. Styrofoam BANNED. Bi-lingual signs posted throughout the meeting rooms and general area.
  3. Replaced office furniture with used & free.
  4. Copier in office prints on both sides.
  5. Old electronic items taken to Good Will.
  6. Repairs always done when possible instead of buying new.
  7. Washing dishes for smaller events to reduce waste.
  8. Recycling votive candle holders.
  9. Many materials purchased for church come from local natural resources such as Tennessee stone.  
  10. Encourage E-giving to save paper and increase church donations.
  11. Compostable dinnerware is being purchased over disposable.

Water Conservation

  1. Restroom water faucets on sensors.
  2. Low flush toilets installed in the church.
  3. Repaired leaks that saved many gallons of water.
  4. The Creation Care team is working with the county and Archdiocese to minimize flooding from the nearly stream. Culverts will be cleaned of silt. A Bioswale with in installed and the stream banks will be planted to reduce erosion.

Buying & Sharing food

  1. St. John Neumann maintains a St. Vincent de Paul food pantry for the surrounding community.
  2. The food pantry maintains a small vegetable garden and fruit trees to provide fresh produce.
  3. Parishioners are encouraged to donate produce to the food pantry from their vegetable gardens.
  4. Gwinnett Cooperative Extension agent Tim Daley gave a vegetable gardening workshop for parishioners for Earth Day 2018.
  5. St. John Neumann school received a Captain Planet Foundation grant to install a school vegetable garden to teach children about where their food comes and to use it as demonstration site to teach core subjects such as math and science.
  6. University of Georgia Gwinnett County Agricultural Extension agent conducted three workshops on Spring, Fall vegetable gardening and Fruit Tree gardening. Raised beds were constructed for demonstration purposes and planted with season vegetables for the food pantry. A fig tree, blueberry bushes and a blackberry vine were planted for fresh fruit.

Create sustainable landscapes

About 12 Master gardeners and volunteers manage an eco-friendly landscape. These principles are based on Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast, by Susan Varlamoff. The following are underway or completed.

  1. Removed invasive plants.
  2. Connected the landscape to adjacent urban forest which includes a stream.
  3. Created a water wise landscape.
  4. Planted native trees, shrubs and plants throughout the landscape
  5. Lawn is less than the recommended 40% of the landscape.
  6. Correct planting procedures are followed; mulch made from ground trees and limbs is placed on beds to reduce weeds and water needed for irrigation.
  7. Compost pile created with landscape waste.
  8. Minimal pesticides are used to control pests. 
  9. A pollinator garden has been installed.

St. Thomas More Community

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St. Thomas More Community is in St. Paul, MN. This church was formally known as the Church of St. Luke which was founded in 1888. In 2008, two parishes merged (St. Luke and Immaculate Heart of Mary). St. Thomas More consists of a church, parish center, and elementary school.

The Care for Creation Ministry was formed in 2015. We hold monthly meetings and have climate-related events on a frequent basis. A few of the highlights these last five years have been:

  • A parish wide energy efficiency audit that resulted in a lighting upgrade reputed to save the parish $10,000 a year. This work was facilitated by EnerChange and the Center for Energy and Environment, a MN based group that works with nonprofits. We saved $10,000 in rebates as well. 
  • Prayer Circle with popular song leader, Marty Haugen to celebrate the release of Laudato Si’ with an attendance of 40+.
  • Showing of the film, “Before the Flood” to 70 people from area churches. A discussion led by our STM forestry expert.
  • Yearly meetings with students and their professors from the University of St. Thomas to discuss Laudato Si’ with our parishioners.
  • Quotes from Laudato Si’ posted on our STM web site.
  • Our pastor, Fr. Sazama, signed the document, “Catholics are Still In,” related to the Paris Agreement.
  • A World Day of Prayer service with an ecological procession, readings, and flute music.
  • Recycling bins bought with a grant for all 3 facilities.
  • Zero-waste events have been held with the spaghetti dinners, Lenten fish fries, and church anniversary party.
  • A plastic pledge to avoid voluntary use of plastic was circulated on Palm Sunday to parishioners. More than 35 returned them signed.
  • Members encouraged to  be active with Catholic Climate Covenant and MN Interfaith Power and Light. (2 have taken the Be the Spark program)
  • STM is a founding member of the St. Paul Interfaith Creation Care Team. This group supports  policies related to carbon emissions in the city of St. Paul.
  • We were represented at the CCC bishops conference in Omaha Nebraska on June 27, 2019.
  • Showing of “True Cost”, a documentary that asks the question “Who really pays the price for our clothing” with a thoughtful community discussion after. 
  • Currently selling tree planting through the TIST program that CCC has initiated. 
  • Climate tips created by a C4C member are put in the bulletin each week.

St. John Neumann Catholic Community, Reston Virginia


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 

St. Mary of the Crown Catholic Church Creation Care Team in Carbondale, Colorado

Carbondale CCT 2
  • 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  

St. Columbkille Parish Creation Care Team in Papillion, Nebraska

St.Columbkille CCT 2
  • 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

OLQP CCT Garden Photo

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.

Major accomplishments:  

  • 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

St. Dennis Care of Creation Team, Madison Wisconsin

St.Dennis CCT Solar Panels


  • 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 

December 2016:

  • Began Phase One of the Carbon Neutral Parish Plan. 

July 2017: 

  • 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

Diocese of San Diego, CA Creation Care Teams

San Diego CCT Banner Resized
  1. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, City Heights, is organizing a walk through their neighborhood in January to pick up trash. 
  2. Sacred Heart, Ocean Beach walked with their banner in the Christmas Parade.
  3. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Lakeside, hosted a table at their recent Ministry Fair in the parish hall after all morning Masses. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 

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