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Stephanie Clary

Stephanie Clary

Stephanie Clary is the Mission Outreach and Communication Coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. She is currently pursuing a Master’s research degree in Catholic Systematic Theology from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. Her particular research interests include ecotheology and cinematic theology. She lives in Colchester Vermont with her husband, Matt, and golden retriever, Finnegan. Website URL:

Eco-friendly Easter

The co-opting of holy days into secular holidays often results in an emphasis on consumerism, which is contrary to the teachings of the Christian faith and has negative effects on the environment and those who call it home. Keep your Easter celebration a little more holistic this year with these simple suggestions.
Dyeing Easter Eggs
  •  Buy eggs from a local farm with pasture-raised chickens.
  •  Look for biodegradable cardboard cartons instead of plastic or Styrofoam.
  •  Instead of using chemical dyes, create natural dyes from vegetables and spices.
  •  Don’t waste food! Use dyed eggs in recipes once you’re finished enjoying them as décor.
Easter Egg Baskets
  •  Reuse plastic eggs and grass if you already own them. Most facilities can’t recycle these items.
  •  If purchasing new items, seek biodegradable options, like ecoeggs™ and ecograss™, which are made in the United States from plants. They look like plastic and are reusable.
  •  Use existing baskets, buckets or jars. If buying new, consider local artisans.
  •  Avoid useless trinkets and fill eggs with Fairtrade chocolates (support sustainable living), jellybeans and nuts (they don’t require individual wrappers), seeds to plant a garden, coins, and inspirational messages.
Easter Meal
  •  Shop for local ingredients, which require less packaging and shipping.
  •  Use up dyed Easter eggs with a new recipe.
  •  Try to prepare the meal with zero-waste.
  •  Avoid single-use dishes and utensils.
  •  Separate food scraps for composting.
  •  Donate excess food or extra money not used on excess food to charity.

Originally published in the 2017 Spring Issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.

Live "Laudato Si'" this Lent

Fast. Give. Pray.

…from meat. Learn about connections between meat consumption and ecological justice at Fast for Climate Justice: Global Catholic Climate Movement.
…from carbon by making responsible lifestyle choices. Instead of driving alone, join or organize a carpool. Have an energy-efficiency audit done on your home and follow through with suggestions. Explore renewable energy opportunities for your home or workplace. Try to reduce your overall use and consumption of goods.
…from plastic. While much plastic is recyclable, producing plastic requires use of crude oils, which depletes the Earth of natural resources. Instead, opt for glass, metal, ceramic, wooden or clay re-useable replacements.
…from waste. Even if it’s just for one day or one meal, attempt a zero-waste lifestyle. (Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction hosts two zero-waste events each year!)
…to local farmers and artisans buy purchasing their products instead of purchasing from big businesses, which require excess packaging materials and fossil fuels for shipping and often don’t observe Fairtrade practices.
…to a community garden (or organize planting one) to help address local hunger.
…to local, state and national parks to help protect God’s creation and provide areas to behold natural beauty.
…time to learn about living more ecologically and socially conscious, then put what you learn into practice.
…togetherness. Shop for, prepare and eat a family meal together, instead of purchasing fast food or ready-made meals, which require excessive, single-use packaging.
…for ecological justice, that we may return to right relationship with all creation.
…for the grace to grow in virtue, which helps us to make more ecologically and socially conscious decisions.
…for the vulnerable, especially those affected by disease and severe weather due to climate change.
…for the Church, that it may use its prophetic voice to encourage action for ecological justice.
…in thanksgiving for food; for those who grow, raise, prepare, transport and distribute it; and for healthy and clean soil, water, air and environments required for its growth.
…in praise for something beautiful that inspires wonder and awe.

Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.

Cry of the Earth; Cry of the Poor

Since the release of the encyclical, “Laudato Si,’” last year, Pope Francis has continued to emphasize the importance of ecological justice.
In the document, he demonstrates how “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue.” He reemphasized this point during the Year of Mercy: making care for creation a prayer intention; suggesting that care for creation be added to the traditional lists of works of mercy; and proposing, “Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home” as one of six new beatitudes. Pope Francis proclaims that ecological justice is inherently a part of the Christian mission of mercy, service and love.
In October, we saw one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Caribbean in Hurricane Matthew. This is a direct effect of reckless human use of natural resources, of disrespect for the world created by God. Yes, storms exist as part of the natural weather patterns on the planet, but rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contribute to the rising temperature of the planet. Warmer oceans produce stronger storms with heavier rains, which in turn contribute to increased flooding in coastal areas.
Pope Francis explains, in addition to the immediate dangers of flooding, “many of the poor . . . are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited.” The long-term effects of climate change, such as the migration and/or death of animals and plants, also “affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children.” They become ecological refugees, fleeing from poverty caused by environmental degradation. Furthermore, the communities to which they flee often do not greet them with a welcoming embrace or a more beneficial ecology.
We often think of climate change as primarily affecting poor communities in other areas of the world, in the future, and this is true, but the distinction is just as much one of socioeconomics as it is of geography. The pope turns to the ecological experiences of the poor in our cities, “which have become unhealthy to live in, not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation and visual pollution and noise.
Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water.” Some of us are privileged to reap the benefits of living near a city while retreating to fresh air and open space anytime we wish. Many are not so fortunate.
He continues, “Some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths.”
The poor are met with ecological adversity in urban, rural, coastal and inland communities. As people who stand for life and human dignity, we cannot remain blind to this reality, and once informed, we cannot remain complacent. We must “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor,” as “Laudato Si’” urges us to do.
The effects of climate change are vividly present in all of creation’s communities, right now.
Pope Francis asserts, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature.” Social justice initiatives require attention to ecological justice if we truly wish to better our world and the lives of those who call it home.
  • Published in World

Behold God’s creation: Season of caring for our common home

This month-long focus on our call to ecological consciousness appropriately begins on the World Day of Prayer for Creation (Sept. 1) and ends on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology (Oct. 4). While the Roman Catholic Church only formally joined this observation in 2015, the World Day of Prayer for Creation was proclaimed by the Orthodox Church in 1989 with other major European Christian churches joining in 2001. 

The Day of Prayer for Creation has since grown into the Season of Creation to promote flexibility for increased involvement through various prayer services and engagement in differing actions of creation care throughout the month. The evolution of this particular prayer intention from a single day in a sole faith community to a season invoking worldwide, ecumenical and interfaith participation calls to mind the sentiments expressed by Pope Francis at the inception of Laudato si’, that care for our common home and glorification of God’s creation are issues of global concern, affecting “every person living on this planet” (LS 3). 

In support of the Season of Creation proclaimed by faith leaders, the following organizations will facilitate awareness and engagement during the 2016 observance: ACT Alliance, Global Catholic Climate Movement, GreenFaith: Interfaith Partners in Action for the Earth, Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and World Council of Churches.

SeasonofCreation.org has compiled a hefty list of liturgical resources that can be used for both personal and communal prayer. Consider planning a Eucharistic Adoration service for Creation Day, praying a Guided Rosary on Caring for Creation, organizing a Prayer Vigil for Creation, joining the World Day of Prayer for Creation on Facebook or simply praying “A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation” and “A Prayer for Our Earth” composed by Pope Francis at the conclusion of “Laudato Si’”. 

These resources and more can be found at SeasonofCreation.org/liturgical-resources. Whether in serene, personal contemplation or jubilant, communal gathering, the possibilities for prayer for creation are as numerous as the creatures that call this planet home.

SeasonofCreation.org also provides five simple suggestions for taking action for a lived response to our ecological call: Join nearly 1 million Catholics in signing the Catholic Climate Petition to reduce the negative effects of humanity on the Earth’s climate and aid the poorest and most vulnerable people in coping with the drastic impacts of climate change; promote “Laudato Si’” and its message with a study group in your parish, school or community; encourage your parish to go green; live simply and sustainably by reducing your carbon footprint; and urge your community to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy solutions. 

The Global Catholic Climate Movement has compiled abundant resources for each of these initiatives, which can be accessed by exploring the Season of Creation: Take Action webpage.

Pope Francis, faith leaders of the world, the poor and vulnerable and creation itself call us to be passionate in prayer and ardent in action during this Season of Creation and all seasons of the year. As human beings entrusted to be caretakers of our common home, we should respond to this call zealously and without hesitation. 

Do you know a person, parish, school or community that is planning something for the the Season of Creation? Let us know. E-mail Mission Outreach and Communication Coordinator, Stephanie Clary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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