This collage contains images of books, the globe, solar panels, light bulbs and the international symbol for recycling. The text reads "Laudato Si' and Climate Action in High School."

Laudato Si’ high school resource guide created to help young environmentalists

“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

–Timothy 4:12

Catholic Climate Covenant, along with one of our partners, Ignatian Solidarity Network, recently announced the completion of the “Laudato Si’ & Climate Action in High School” seven-part resource guide.  

The guide, designed to help inspire and provide guidance to Catholic high schoolers on more effective ways to engage with the environment, has been in the works for over a year. Kayla Jacobs, the program manager for youth mobilization at the Covenant, shared where the idea for the guide came from. 

“Over the past year, I have had many conversations with high school students and their teachers about school creation care clubs (such as Green Club, Environmental Club, and so on),” Jacobs said. “A consistent thing I heard is that many clubs across the country have struggled knowing what to do outside of recycling and educational programs. They have also expressed wanting to take their club ‘to the next level.’”

Jacobs decided that the Covenant could play a part in helping provide direction to youths eager to care for our common home, and that another Catholic organization could play a pivotal role too. 

“After continuously hearing this theme, I reached out to our friend at the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Brenna Davis, the Director of Integral Ecology, and asked if she wanted to partner on creating a guide for high schools to use for this purpose,” Jacobs said. “After agreeing, she and I created this guide utilizing and highlighting many great resources from both of our organizations.”

“Kayla and I both primarily work with high school students and teachers, and she reached out to me to see if I would be willing to collaborate on a guide to support green teams at high schools as they try to make a plan for the year,” Davis said. “I created a Laudato Si’ Action Plan discussion and implementation guide for parishes and religious communities for Lent when the platform was released, and we realized that this guide could be repurposed to help students explore how they want to live out Laudato Si’ on their campuses.”

Davis explained that she was excited to collaborate with Catholic Climate Covenant on this project. 

“I enjoy collaborating with Catholic Climate Covenant and other Catholic partners because I believe that working in community is the only truly meaningful way we can address climate change,” Davis said. “Problems can feel overwhelming when we think we have to solve them ourselves. 

“Jesus, who could have chosen to work by himself to create a more just world, chooses to work in community with the people he encounters in the time and place he is alive. He is our model for lasting change, and I hope this guide can remind students that we don’t need to wait for superheroes to address injustice and to build the world that we desire. We are called to work with friends, classmates, and teachers at our school to make a significant impact right now where we are.”

The seven-part guide is designed to focus on the seven goals of the Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform:

  • Response to the Cry of the Earth
  • Response to the Cry of the Poor
  • Ecological Economics
  • Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles
  • Ecological Education
  • Ecological Spirituality
  • Community Resilience and Empowerment

The namesake for the resource guide comes from Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, which raised awareness for environmental stewardship as Catholics.  

Jacobs explained what makes this resource guide unique. 

 “The guide includes prayers, reflection questions, suggested prayers of the faithful for school Mass, and different levels of action suggestions (easy, medium, and hard) for each of the seven goals of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform,” Jacobs said. 

This guide will also help with the Covenant’s goal of mobilizing youth to care for creation.  

“We believe this easy-to-use guide will help generate high-impact plans and ideas for students and teachers to implement at their schools,” Jacobs said. “I’m grateful for this resource because it is a practical and useful tool I can share with the many schools and parishes I work with across the country. This will be especially useful in the regions where we don’t have a Youth Mobilization Leadership Team.”

Davis echoed Jacobs’s sentiments and excitement. 

“I hope this guide will provide a framework that is easy for students to implement and take action on their campuses,” Davis said. “The guide includes easy, medium, and expert examples of how each of the Laudato Si’ Platform goals might be lived out at a school, and I hope that the suggestions will be a jumping-off point for students to use their imagination, interests, creativity, and unique talents as they discern how they feel called to bring about ecological justice at their schools. 

“Many people feel paralyzed by the enormity of climate change. We also know that taking concrete action in our local communities increases our sense of agency and hope, which leads to further action. I hope this guide can be a small first step for students looking for a way to get involved on this issue and can lead to a sense of empowerment as changemakers at their schools.”

Jacobs and Davis aren’t the only ones excited about the guide and the opportunity to play a role in caring for God’s creation. 

Courtney, a high schooler from Chicago who has attended Covenant-led events before, shared her own excitement.    

 “Our generation wants to take action, and we actually can make a change,” she said.

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