Sr Caroline Vaitkunas (back, fifth from left) shared stories with a group of parishioners - Photo:Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
The Peace, Ecology and Justice Office of St Columbans Mission Society gratefully accepted an invitation to talk with a group of parishioners on Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter, Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. The session included a presentation, conversation, reflection and prayer. Parishioners who have lived in the area for decades, shared stories about the meaning and value of their local landscape and the changes they have witnessed, including the transition from open grasslands to a built urban environment. Skilled gardeners amongst the group spoke of home gardens in which vegetables and fruits were grown for extended families.
A shared acknowledgement about the reality of climate change and its impacts locally, nationally and internationally was expressed. Other issues of environmental degradation were also raised. One person shared a concern about the level of air pollution in the area, evident in the black dust from a nearby heavy vehicle transport route that settles on surfaces in her home. The question came up ‘what can we do about any of this?’ Some ideas and initiatives were shared. Parishioners spoke of being tuned in and taking notice of developments in the electrification of transport and transition in energy systems.
Pope Francis’ teaching affirms that care for our common home is part of the mission of the whole Church. Parishioners are leading the way by gathering for prayerful reflection, dialogue and discernment in faithful response to the signs of our times.
Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon