Laudato si’ – Praised by You, my Lord

So many friars around the world are committed to the protection and care of Creation. Together with numerous other people who share our ideals, this month we celebrated World Environment Day (WED) as well as the first anniversary of Laudato si’. This is a good opportunity to share some stories of friars who work in this area!

The Franciscans in the Philippines, led by their national coordinator Br. Dexter Toledo OFM, actively participated in the celebration of the anniversary of Laudato si’, and the launch of Global Catholic Climate Movement – Philippines. Speakers were invited to discuss how Laudato si’ has led to concrete activities. The meeting heard an update on the Paris Agreement at the COP 21 meeting, and a testimony about eco-parish activities and the empowerment of the poor, with the hope of enabling them to be pro-active stewards of Creation. A Eucharistic celebration followed, and afterwards a ceremony where participants placed a leaf bearing their names on the “Tree of Commitment and Hope for our Common Home” as a pledge to be dedicated to the care of the environment. The event ended with a press conference.

In the Province of Santa Fe, Colombia, workshops were held on Franciscanism and Society. The social and political reality of Colombia was studied from the standpoint of Franciscan thinking on two themes: brotherhood and justice. The event was jointly organized by the Province’s JPIC Office, and the OFM Secretaries for Ongoing Formation and Missions and Evangelization, and had the support of the University of St. Bonaventure. On Saturday, June 18th – the anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato si’ – representatives of various pastoral groups from eastern Colombia gathered in Villavicencio at the Parish of the Divine Infant Jesus for a further workshop.

In Kenya, people from across the globe celebrated WED by taking part in activities to protect the environment. This year’s theme was the illegal trade in wildlife, which does terrible damage to biodiversity. In partnership with a number of African organizations, including an OFM representation, United Religions Initiative (URI) held a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, on “The Role of Faith Based Organizations and Religious Leaders in Environmental Protection and the fight against Illegal Wildlife Trade In Africa”. The participants emphasized the “Green Rule” which is “Do unto the earth as you would have it do unto you!”, and saw it as the unifying factor among the faiths on environmental care. URI-Africa presented its inaugural Environmental Stewardship Award to Mother Earth Network in appreciation of their work for the earth, including the planting of 1 million trees in Kenya. At the end of the event, four trees were planted in the compound of Desmond Tutu Conference center as sign of interfaith commitment for environmental preservation and action.