From June 27-29, 2019, Catholic Climate Covenant and Creighton University hosted the inaugural gathering of “Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church: A Conference Series on Our Common Home.” This was the first of three biennial events designed to more deeply integrate Laudato Si’ and Catholic climate change teaching into eight key ministries of the U.S. Catholic Church: Advocacy, Adult Faith Formation, Creation Care Teams, Energy Management, Higher Education, Liturgy, School Education, Young Adult Ministry.
The conference opened on Thursday evening with “The U.S. Catholic Church: Laudato Si’, Creation Care, and the Climate Crisis.” Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, offered a welcome and read a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States communicating Pope Francis’s blessing on the conference. Revered Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, President of Creighton University, provided opening remarks about how the gathering expressed and advanced Creighton’s Catholic, Jesuit mission. Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, PhD, Bishop of San Diego, and Meghan Goodwin, MA, Associate Director of Government Relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, then discussed the U.S. Catholic response to Laudato Si’ and Church climate change teaching. The session was moderated by Martha Shulski, PhD, Director of the Nebraska State Climate Office.
On Friday and Saturday, conference participants attended four plenary addresses on Friday and Saturday: Spirituality & Conversion (Erin Lothes Biviano, PhD, associate professor of theology College of Saint Elizabeth), What Is Happening to Our Common Home (Martha Shulski, PhD), Love in Action (Kenneth R. Himes, OFM, PhD, professor of theology at Boston College), and Climate Justice (Sacoby Wilson, PhD, Associate Professor of Applied Environmental Health at University of Maryland-College Park). After each address, participants attended topical breakout sessions to discuss how to better integrate keynote insights about Laudato Si’ and Catholic climate change teaching into the eight identified U.S. Catholic ministries. Each session was be guided by a team of experienced leaders, including those from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services. In the evenings, participants respectively heard keynote addresses from Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, PhD, Coordinator of the Sector on Ecology and Creation-Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Sr. Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Following this inaugural gathering, track leaders will work with Catholic Climate Covenant and Creighton University to develop and implement new ministry-specific resources and initiatives with which to more deeply integrate Laudato Si’ and Catholic climate change teaching into the U.S. Catholic Church.