Happy fourth anniversary to Laudato Si’! It is also amazing that the Covenant’s Creation Care Team program and network is four years old! Happy Birthday to us!
In this email we turn our attention to our yards and lawns and focus on creating sustainable habitats around our outdoor spaces. You can start small or create a large habitat. Do whatever you can. If we all dedicate even just a small area of our land to protecting habitats for pollinators, planting native plants, and ensuring sustainable gardening practices, we would certainly be a powerful force for good in our common home. The St. Kateri Habitat program (see below) is something we urge you to consider participating in as a Creation Care Team for your parish or in your individual homes.
Also, please remember that we are in the midst of our end-of fiscal year fundraising efforts. If you can, please consider donating to the 2020 Laudato Si’ Fund. Our work is only possible with generous people like you!. Donors who give $150 or more will receive a hardbound copy of the book Caring for Creation: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis from Franciscan Media as a thank you gift.
How will you take action?
To celebrate the 4th anniversary of Laudato Si’, Laudato Si’s“Prayer for the Earth” set to music.
(Adaptation and music by Hazzan Steve Klaper & Br. Al Mascia, OFM Song and Spirit Institute for Peace, Berkley, MI • SongandSpirit.org)
Go outside! We live in a living world! Take your shoes off and walk on the grass. Take a deep breath. Look at the sky. Watch the flight of a bird. Listen to bird songs. Smell a flower. Admire a tree. Feel the warmth of the sun or gaze in awe of the stars. For at least 10 minutes do nothing but experience and delight in the goodness and richness of creation and give thanks to God. Praise Be-Laudato Si’!
Plan/Create a St. Kateri Habitat
In this year’s Earth Day program we suggested a fantastic activity from the St. Kateri Conservation Center: the Saint Kateri Habitat Program. The program aims to inspire and support Catholics to restore backyards, gardens, farms, parks, forests, meadows, rivers, and wetlands to healthy habitats for people and wildlife.
Schedule a half-day meeting to discuss how your Creation Care Team could tackle this project. Your group should discuss/plan the creation of Saint Kateri Habitats that provide at least two of the following six elements:
- Food, water, cover, and space for wildlife, including habitat for pollinators (e.g., bees) and other terrestrial and aquatic organisms
• Native trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers, such as milkweeds and goldenrods formonarch butterflies.
- Food, water, cover, and space for people, including vegetable gardens, flower gardens, community-supported gardens, indoor gardens, and farms.
- Ecosystem services, such as pollination, clean air and water, carbon storage for climate regulation, and religious faith arising from interactions with the “Book of Nature”,
- Clean energy and sustainable practices of gardening, landscaping, and farming.
- Sacred spaces for worship, prayer, and contemplation, including Mary gardens, prayer gardens, and rosary gardens. Any kind of garden, natural area, farm, or green space can be a sacred space and treated as such.
NOTE: At least one Catholic religious expression is required, which may include crosses, wayside shrines, grottos, stations of the cross, Saint Kateri Habitat signs, or statues of Mary, and angel, or a saint, such as Saint Francis of Assisi. To learn more and to register your Saint Kateri Habitat go to: https://www.kateri.org/saint-kateri-habitat-2/
See below for resources/ideas to get you started!
1) Turn your yards (at home or at your parish and/or school) into pollinator gardens. Pollinators (bees, butterflies, beetles, flies) are necessary for three-quarters of our major food crops, and they are in trouble due to exposure to parasites and pesticides, and loss of floral abundance and diversity due to increased land-use. We can help pollinators by creating garden areas specifically designed to attract and feed them. For more info see:
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife: How to build a pollinator garden in seven steps.
- Faith and the Common Good: Pollinator Gardens.
- Native Plants Garden That Brings Birds, Pollinators, and Parishioners Together, a partnership between Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society and St. Eugene Catholic Church in Asheville, North Carolina.
2) Does your faith community have space for a community garden? Great resources available from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Baltimore Food and Faith Project will help you get started. If you don’t have the space, consider volunteering at an already established community garden.
3) Turn your lawns into meadows. Sometimes we need to be a little radical and suggesting we say goodbye to our lush, green lawns may be seen as “radical”. However, lawns are ecologically disastrous. Be happy with a clover rich lawn, or plant native grasses. If saying goodbye to your lawn is impossible, then make sure it is a sustainable lawn.
4) For more ideas of how to Create Sustainable Landscapes in your home, parish, or school check pages 27-30 of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s Laudato Si’ Action Plan.
5) Check out this inspiring story about the St. Joseph Montessori School’s Laudato Si’ Club in Columbus Ohio! (Submitted by Cathy Johanni)
Bee-Keeping as an Act of Faith
The St. Joseph Montessori School (Columbus, Ohio) has an awesome creation care project. Thank you, Kathy Johanni for letting us know about it!
The afterschool Laudato Si’ Club was formed two years ago. It is a group of about 12 students who were inspired by Pope Francis’ letter to the world, Laudato Si’. The club began with exploring up-cycling -- turning trash into treasure. However, what the students really wanted to do was to start bee keeping. Students in the club began studying about the “Colony Collapse Disorder” which is most likely linked to pesticide use and loss of plant biodiversity.
The students thought they could help the planet by caring for some bees right at their urban school. Though they were unsuccessful when they applied for two grants to help them buy the bee keeping equipment, they were able to go ahead with the project thanks to an anonymous donor.
They got approval for their plans from the Head of School and the pastor and spoke with the school nurse about bee stings. They also met with a bee-keeper to get some advice. They even submitted plans to the local government, the Italian Village commission. Then the group made up a little skit for the whole school to introduce the members of the hive. The skit gave lots of information about the incredible organization of the hive!
Finally, in April of this year, they installed bees in two new Langstroth hives. One hive is names for St. Abigail, patron saint of bee keepers, and the other for the honey-tongued St. Ambrose. The students planted a pollinator garden, named for St. Kateri. They also learned about other bee-related Catholics: St. Modomoc and Bl. Solanus Casey. Some students walked the neighborhood, giving out leaflets and packets of seeds, raising awareness of how important our pollinators are. Since then, they have done several inspections, loads of observations, and even added new space to our hives. Students are all a-buzz about these creatures and delight in learning about them. One child remarked that bees are like Jesus in that they give their lives for the good of their sisters and brothers. It has been a great experience!
What a great project! Kudos to all the members of the St. Joseph Montessori’s Laudato Si’ Club!