100 Catholic organizations to spearhead local ecological and Laudato Si’ projects
Washington, DC – Today, Catholic Climate Covenant announced the winners of the Victory Noll Sisters Small Grants program: nearly $100,000 of funding for 100 Catholic organizations working locally to care for our common home. The Covenant’s small grants program was announced last summer, and these are the first winners. Half of the funding for the first year of the program came from the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters (aka Victory Noll Sisters) and the other half from generous donors. The program was overwhelmed with more than 230 applications from Catholic groups for grants of up to $1,000.
Among the grant winners are college campus ministries, parishes, elementary and high school creation care programs, charities agencies, state Catholic conferences, men and women religious communities, and many others. To view a full list of winners, click here.
“We are so grateful to the Victory Noll Sisters for seeding this program and we look forward to seeing how these small grants will grow the Catholic network for creation care” said Dan Misleh, Catholic Climate Covenant Founder. He continued: “While this was a special award year, we hope to continue this program annually.”
Funds will go to a wide variety of ecological and Laudato-Si'-inspired projects including community gardens that provide healthy produce for food programs, educational efforts to bring greater awareness of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, growing tree canopies around schools and parishes, and instituting recycling and composting projects to dramatically cut waste in school and parish cafeterias.
Paz Artaza-Regan, the Covenant’s Creation Care Teams manager and key staff for implementing the Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform in the U.S, said, “While $1,000 grants are modest, we know from experience that even this amount of funding can have a multiplier effect in local creation care efforts, bringing greater awareness and action on behalf of our common home that is increasingly threatened by our inattention to the wonders of creation.”
A few examples of the Victory Noll Small Grant projects include:
The Maryland Catholic Conference will use the funds to educate Catholic advocates and state policymakers on the need for policies that protect the environment and provide incentives for local communities to act on creation care.
Saint Louis school in Honolulu, Hawaii, will help educate students in sustainable land management activities including agroforestry, conservation of water resources, and erosion control. They will ensure that the students understand how environmental care grows out of not only scientific knowledge but also indigenous traditions.
The Green Team of St. Bridget Catholic Community in Hudson, Wisconsin, will provide educational opportunities after weekend masses to discuss Pope Francis’s encyclical and show what sustainability and sustainable practices might mean for church members. Parishioners will be asked to sign a commitment to practice sustainability in their personal and professional lives.
The Environmental Crusader Club at Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, part of the Diocese of Richmond, is rewilding an area of the school property to increase biodiversity, improve wastewater runoff, and plant native trees and shrubs.
The Covenant has encouraged all grant recipients to share their stories as their projects unfold. For many grant winners, projects will be part of their Laudato Si’ Action Platform efforts, the Vatican’s global initiative for Catholic institutions to commit to a seven-year sustainability journey.
“The team is proud of what they have accomplished so far, and they look forward to seeing the saplings peak through the soil in the spring. They also look forward to adding additional native plants. They are passionate about their work to preserve the Elizabeth River watershed, and they would like to continue with that work.” said Virginia Beach’s Catholic High School representative, Sharelle M. Milo, adding the grant will allow them to do so.
“We were inspired by Environmental Stewardship, Place-based education for our students, our Catholic Values, and the Hawaiian culture,” said Saint Louis school representative Laura Koonce in Honolulu.
“We discuss the importance of caring for the gift of the Earth and we lean on Laudato Si' for guidance and inspiration,” said Holy Redeemer School’s Green Machines representative Jamie Hasemeier in Webster Grove, Missouri, where they are relaunching educational, composting, recycling, no-idling and caring for earth programs with their grant. “We feel a big responsibility to care for the Earth because when we do that, we are caring for each other.”