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Show Mercy to Our Common Home

Joyce Dawson, a member of the Green Committee at Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction, says “going green” is “as easy as one, two, three: desire, information, planning.”
 
She was one of the presenters at the April 23 “Mercy for Our Common Home” event at the Holy Family-St. Lawrence parish center, preceded by evening vespers in Holy Family Church.

The event was held as part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement's Mercy2Earth Weekend, a global initiative combining Earth Day and Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations to encourage Catholics to reflect upon Pope Francis' "Mercy to Earth" message and put it into action.
 
About 35 people attended the 2-hour event that focused on caring for the Earth as part of the Diocese of Burlington’s observance of the Year of Creation called for by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
As she spoke to persons at her presentation, Dawson sat at a table with a picture of Kermit the Frog with the words “It’s so easy being green.” And though it does take some effort to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost, she said the effort is worthwhile not only from a cost-saving perspective but also because such actions show care and respect for the Earth as called for by Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home.”
 
Ernie Clerihew of St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in Pittsford expressed concern about getting people to separate trash from recycling and composting at events like bingo. “A lot of people don’t want to be bothered,” he lamented. “Everybody should care.”
 
Linda Hemond of Holy Family Parish said the effort is worthwhile and made easier by products like biodegradable compost bags.
 
Dawson said parishes need to be leaders in the effort to care for creation. “We want to lead by example. We want our parishioners to do this and their families and their neighbors.”
 
In a workshop on “living simply,” presenter Marybeth Redmond, a writer and parishioner of Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish, said for her living simply “is about disconnecting from the consumerist society we live in and finding more time for meaningful things, creating more space and time in my life for experiences, relationships with people and activities that bring meaning to my life.”
 
Many people, she said, are looking to have a less stressful existence with a higher quality of life, deeper spiritual/faith lives and more meaningful relationships.
 
Other topics of roundtable discussions were renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean water, impacts on communities and eco-spirituality.
 
Anita Wellman, a Secular Franciscan from Corpus Christi Parish in St. Johnsbury, attended the “Mercy for Our Common Home” event. “It is so Franciscan,” she enthused. “It fits into our way of life.”
 
She said the event helped her to continue to grow; “it’s called that ‘ongoing conversion,’” she said.
 

Catholic Schools Care for Creation

In response to Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne's call for a Year of Creation focused on Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home," Catholic schools in Vermont immediately sprang to action planning a statewide day of creation education, action and prayer. On April 12, each Catholic school participated in Catholic Schools Care for Creation Day. Initiatives included immediate tasks and long-term projects.
 
Responding to the call to care for creation is part of the Catholic schools’ mission “to instill faith values in students and to create a desire to make a positive difference in the world.” Some schools began the day of service with Mass or another form of prayer. Others read and reflected upon quotes from “Laudato Si’” throughout the day. It was important for students to understand that this day wasn’t just in service to the world, but to their neighbors and to God as well.
 
“Care for creation is a matter of social justice because the ones who are most affected by pollution and climate change are the poor of the world,” Bishop Coyne said. “I hope many Catholics will take advantage of the opportunities being offered throughout the diocese to celebrate this Year of Creation.”
 
Vermont Catholic schools emphatically embraced the opportunity to spend some extra time beholding God’s creation and ensuring that it remains bountiful for generations to come.
 
Read about each school’s Care for Creation Day projects below. For more about the Year of Creation: vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation.
 
Students at St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre learned about reusing and recycling materials with an eco-fashion show, where students designed and modeled clothing creations made from materials found in recycle bins. As part of an ongoing project, students planted seeds in recyclable containers that will later be transferred to the school garden. Once in the earth, the seedlings will grow into food that sustains bodies. Students and their families share in the cultivation, growth, harvest and consumption.
 
Students at The School of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales in Bennington used old newspapers to create biodegradable flower vases. The potted plants will be gifted to elderly individuals in the area and can be placed directly into the ground.
 
Everyone who attends St. Michael School in Brattleboro was encouraged to use sustainable transportation on April 12. Many walked, biked or carpooled to school. Members of the school community worked together on waste reduction strategies that could be implemented, with specific grades focusing on recycling and compost efficiency. Other grades focused on area beautification with litter pick-up and gardening. Others created an awareness and education bulletin board for visitors and as a reminder for everyone at the school.
 
Each classroom at The Bishop John A. Marshall School in Morrisville has prominent recycle and compost bins with a smaller trash bin alongside them. The school no longer provides single-use plastic straws or water bottles. There are water-bottle filling stations for reusable water bottles. Lunch trays are biodegradable. All of this is part of the school’s ongoing sustainability efforts.
 
Students at Christ the King School in Rutland led a prayer service designed to help people understand how they can contribute to ecological justice. Throughout the year, students will work with Marble Valley Grows to plant a garden and participate in tastings to promote the Farm to School programs. They will also learn about and begin a composting program for the lunch room.
 
Students at Christ the King School in Burlington and Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland spent their mornings cleaning up local parks and beautifying creation for area residents to enjoy.
 
Good Shepherd Catholic School in St. Johnsbury recently received a grant that allows them to begin construction on an outdoor nature classroom. After “greening up” the local area on April 12, students and staff gathered in the gym to plant seeds. Later in the spring, flower seedlings will be donated to the local eldercare home and vegetable seedlings to the community garden. Some of each will be reserved to plant in the outdoor nature classroom upon its completion.
 
Students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington helped to return the local ecosystem to balance by removing invasive species from a trail on school grounds and cultivating the land for new growth. Money collected from a dress-down day on the April 12 was donated to Pure Water for the World, a Rutland-based non-profit dedicated to sustainable, safe water solutions.
 
At St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, students learned about the impact of separating food waste and began implementing a compost program in their cafeteria and classrooms.
 
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