By Keith Pitcher, SS John Fisher & Thomas More, Burley in Wharfedale
Pope Francis’ messages in Laudato Si have been clear in the need for us to protect our beautiful but fragile world.
He calls on us, collectively and individually, to:
- consider the way we look at creation
- pray about this
- identify and stop practices that cause damage
- start new initiatives to improve our environment, and then
- reset our lifestyles
It can all seem a bit daunting but there are many ways for us to engage with Pope Francis’ call. So how do we start?
One of the best ways is for a parish to form a Green Team; to start praying and talking about this and find out what is going on in our homes and in our parishes. It may be possible to do this within the framework provided by the on-going Synodal Process. We shouldn’t forget other communities elsewhere in the world either, including the great work done by CAFOD and many other charities.
A Green Team can be great way to include people of all ages. As movements like Fridays for Future have shown, young people are extremely passionate about tackling the climate crisis. An inter-generational group provides a space for old and new ideas to bounce-off each other and broadens the horizon of what any one age group would be able to achieve.
Working towards CAFOD’s LiveSimply award can be a great way for students and children to get involved, especially with practical things.
The award first encourages us to group the types of issues the team would like to focus on. For example:
- how much gas & electricity do we use?
- what food do we eat & where does it come from?
- how do we get to work & school?
- what flora & fauna live here?
- which things are we reusing and recycling?
The next stage is to decide which one(s) to begin doing something about. Using the RRRR principle (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Renewable energy) helps to focus and identify benefits and savings.
Of course, these savings go beyond merely the financial. A Green Team can be a brilliant way for a parish to cut back on its carbon footprint too.
Building a sustainable parish includes more than just the environmental and economic aspects. There is also a social side too; a sustainable parish is a community.
Laudato Si has a strong focus on ‘beauty’ and ‘waste’. But these ideas need not be taken as literally as they may seem in terms of sustainability. The social side of sustainability can be boosted through practicing mindfulness and reconnecting ourselves with what we take to be beautiful in the world around us. Especially in these tumultuous times, such an approach to life can help us to find clarity and strength in the face of crises such as the climate crisis.
The work that a Green Team does can be shared with the wider parish community. Keep the rest of the community included in the conversation about what’s happening through posters or leaflets.
You don’t have to know all the answers at this stage, they can be different for each group. The works Green Teams do for parish buildings can, of course, also help to highlight work that individuals and families can do to help make their own homes more sustainable too.
Share Your Story!
Once you get started share what you have done on your parish website and newsletter. Let the Laudato Si’ teams have details of your stories. Celebrate your successes!
The Commission would be delighted to publish any details on parish actions. Send your story to:
to be considered for publication on the diocesan website by the communications officer, Rowan Morton-Gledhill.