By Savanna Kearney
Photo: Christ the King students Cameron Pickering, Charles Brown and Dylan Hernandez tend to the school’s community garden. (photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband)
While nearly every person in the world is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, another crisis comes into view – our environment. As Christians, we are called to care for our common home, to tend to the gifts God gave us, and to be good stewards of the Earth.
Christians worldwide will gather to celebrate the Season of Creation from Sept. 1 through Oct. 4. This unique celebration of God’s creation began in 1989 when Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I proclaimed Sept. 1 as a day of prayer for creation, which also coincides with the first day of the liturgical year for the Orthodox church.
The World Council of Churches went a step further, creating an entire season to celebrate God’s creation, and in 2015, Pope Francis declared the Roman Catholic Church would recognize Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. This occurred shortly after the release of his encyclical Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home. The season will end on Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology.
This year’s theme for the Season of Creation is “Jubilee for the Earth.” While prayer is essential to social justice reforms in the church, action is necessary, too. Parishes are encouraged to plan events, create flyers, publish bulletins, and promote dialogue, urging Catholics to care for our common home. Other action-based initiatives could include a river or beach clean-up event, planting a community garden, working to implement more sustainable practices into everyday parish life, and encourage parishioners to sign the St. Francis Pledge to pray, learn, assess, act and advocate for environmental issues.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine’s “Laudato Si’” Creation Care Ministry is leading the charge on environmental awareness. They are hosting a “Pilgrimage for the Planet” by encouraging individuals and small groups to walk the Mission Nombre de Dios grounds and the historic district of downtown St. Augustine during the Season of Creation while reflecting on their impact on the environment. To register for your personal pilgrimage, visit www.pilgrimagefortheplanet.org.
They will also offer a live three-part Zoom webinar series led by John Daniels, professor for the diocesan Ministry Formation Program, and a member of the diocesan Integral Ecology Committee. He will explore the connection between God, creation and humanity on Sept. 3, 10 and 17, from 7 to 8 p.m. Click here to register.
Finally, on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m., Timothy Johnson, a professor of religion at Flagler College and fellow member of the diocesan Integral Ecology Committee, will livestream a presentation on St. Francis of Assisi’s radical approach of experiencing the “Book of Creation” via the Cathedral Basilica’s Facebook page. Click here to register.
Click here for more ways to take part in the Season of Creation.