This Season of Creation, the Diocese of Joliet helped celebrate the Season of Creation with a prayer service adapted to our days of pandemic. The event was organized by a group of young adults and co-sponsored by the Diocese of Joliet’s Laudato Si’ Ministries and Young Adult Ministry, featuring Apostolic Administrator Most Reverend Richard E. Pates. They were graciously hosted by Lewis University, a Lasallian University that has many sustainability initiatives.
The prayer service was initially scheduled to be held outside at one of Lewis University’s many green spaces due to COVID. But at the last minute it was moved indoors due to (the much needed) rain. The organizers were grateful for the rain and were happy to move the event indoors for the nourishment of creation! With masks and social distancing, the event continued.
Here is a full recording of the inspiring prayer program that included prayer, scripture readings, music, witness talks from young adults and a young Catholic family, a reflection by Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, and petitions prayed in English, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Polish, Hindi, and Malayalam to represent the diversity of the diocese.
“No one here expected any of the major events that 2020 has held,” said Caitlin Shanahan, a senior at Lewis University and summer intern with the Diocese of Joliet’s Laudato Si’ Ministries, in the welcoming. “The theme of this year is hard to minimize into one word but change certainly has been an integral aspect. While we continue to change, adjust, and adapt, so does the world around us. Another form of change that has all too often been overlooked is climate change. It is an issue that silently unites us all yet is the subject of great dispute. The natural world is asking for our help, and now more than ever, it is imperative that we listen.”
Sarah Reznicek, a young adult from St. Jude Parish in Joliet, IL shared stories about her time spent hiking and gardening with friends. For her, those experiences in nature are a sign of God’s love and care for all of us: “Everything is gift...all of creation is so charged with God.”
Justin Wozniak and Venus Wozniak, a married couple that operates a community garden and are parishioners at St. Dennis Parish in Lockport, IL, shared that during the first several months of the COVID-19 quarantine, they spent their time outdoors in the garden and in the woods that helped their family get through the tough times. They also made a call for us to dig deep into our hearts and minds and prayerfully discern how we could preserve the natural beauty and resources of our community.
Most Reverend Richard E. Pates started his reflection by describing his favorite place, Trout Lake in Minnesota. The description was so detailed that the attendees were transformed to that lake: “The time is 6 a.m. I’m sitting on a deck above 40 feet above the lake, caressing a fresh cup of coffee… Before me is the incomparable glory of a perfectly placid lake. It is the deepest in Minnesota. It’s view is punctuated by pine and birch trees, expelling that beautiful beautiful scent of freshness that only that northern climate can bring…”
He then proclaimed, “God’s work through creation is pure gift.” He talked about climate change and environmental degradation saying, “We have trashed so much of creation. We have mindlessly destroyed acres on acres of land in pursuit of so-called comfort...Both human life and the abundance of all that has been given to us has been seriously compromised.”
He then moved to a call to action and hope saying: “Upbeat news is that this seemingly relentless march to extinction can be reversed. By whom? By you and me.” He called for a conversion of hearts that could be shared with others. He ended by reminding the attendees that in Laudato Si’ Pope Francis encourages, most of all, action.
The service ended with the Prayer for our Earth, by Pope Francis at the end of Laudato Si’ and a final blessing from the bishop.
Follow Laudato Si’ Ministries of the Diocese of Joliet for more Season of Creation reflections and opportunities @LaudatoSiJoliet