The urgency of the Climate Emergency can sometimes feel overwhelming. There are so many calls for action. The changes required to ameliorate the worst effects are huge – and require international political action. In these circumstances it is easy for people to lose hope.

View from a large window over a valley

This was the backdrop that led the Spirituality of Justice group within the Commission to organise this Day of Reflection. We wanted to give people the opportunity to stand back a little from the action and reflect on the motivations behind what each of us do. By chance, we found that the CAFOD group in Our Lady of Kirkstall parish were thinking about organising a similar event. We agreed to join forces and Michael Emly joined the organising group.

Originally, Linda Jones (Head of Theology Programmes at CAFOD) was going to lead us in our reflections. However, due to family circumstances she was unable to do this. However, in her place, two members of her team, Stewart and Caroline, joined us.

The day was split into 3 parts:

  • encountering each other at the start of the day and encountering Christ in the readings of the Mass
  • through our reflection on these, to renew our conversion to the need to care better for our ‘Common Home’.
  • Lastly, to find the signs of hope that enable us to go back to our communities with renewed motivation to continue and extend the work of taking better care of our planet.

The day was held at Norwood Methodist Retreat Centre in the Washburn Valley. There were over 30 of us and we were at the limit of the capacity of the venue. However, its location on a hillside overlooking Lindleywood reservoir made the slightly cramped conditions more than worthwhile.

The day included mass at which Fr Peter Rosser presided, a longtime Commission member. The old doorway into the Chapel has been converted into a lovely picture window looking on the valley below. We arranged our seating so that, whilst the altar table was the focus, we could always see the view outside the window and keep in mind the wonder of God’s creation. Rather than ‘slot in’ the mass at some point during the day we used the structure of the mass to structure our time so that the mass itself extended over most of the day. Our Eucharistic celebration was immediately followed by having our shared lunch. This was followed by a post-communion reflection from Francis & Caroline with some extended time for individual reflection and the opportunity to walk in the surrounding countryside (which several people did even though it was just starting to drizzle a little). We ended our day with the final blessing of the mass and a rousing hymn on which to depart.

It was clearly a day that people were very thankful for, and this was confirmed in the evaluation comments that we received

comments made by people attending the Day of reflection