Pope Francis invites us to celebrate Laudato Si Week, writes Sr Caroline Vaitkunas, a Columban Peace, Ecology and Justice team member.
In 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical letter Laudato Si‘: On Care for Our Common Home, which offers a profound vision for responding to the cries of the poor and Earth. This vision continues to inspire millions of people across the world.
“We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affects us all” (Laudato Si’, 14).
Laudato Si’ Week signals the end of the special 5th anniversary year of the Pope’s encyclical and the responses made by the church to give life to its goals, which are of great significance to Columbans and the local communities where we live and serve,
The theme for Laudato Si’ Week 2021 is, “for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13).
Laudato Si’ Week will herald new announcements from the Vatican to encourage, inspire and support Catholics, and all people of goodwill, to better care for our earthly home through the implementation of the Vatican’s new Laudato Si Action Platform and Goals.
This new Laudato Si Action Platform will be announced on May 24th at the Laudato Si’ Week closing. The Action Platform will support Catholics and Catholic organizations to embark on a seven-year journey towards an integral ecology that inspires care for all people and care for Earth as a living whole. The ensuing decade has been dedicated to being a time of Jubilee for all creation.
As the former Columban Superior General, Fr Kevin O’Neill, said in 2018: “The Columban commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of creation has been integral to our missionary identity from our earliest days.”
How to get involved in Laudato Si Week 2021
- Global Catholic Climate Movement
Columbans work collaboratively to seek a sustainable future for all and were founding members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a network of Catholic organizations supporting formation in the connection between faith and planetary crises and addressing global warming. Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si is the pivotal document of GCCM. Amy Echeverria, the Central Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation coordinator for Columbans, based in Washington DC, was the Founding President of GCCM, and Columban Fr John Leydon (Philippines) is a current member of GCCM’s Steering Committee. In the Philippines, GCCM Pilipinas is a very active group supported by the leadership of Columban Lay Missionary John Din. The group have been partners with the Catholic Bishops in the Philippines, who, in March 2021, launched a national Laudato Si’ Program, which will be implemented in all dioceses across the country.
As founding members and network partners of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, St Columbans Mission Society are proud to support and promote the Laudato Si’ Week events hosted by GCCM. These include workshops, events, prayer services and a missionary sending forth of Catholics to ‘announce the Gospel of Creation in every corner of the globe’. You can find the schedule and information on how to register here. Events will also be recorded for later viewing.
- The Missionary Society of St Columban Jubilee for the Earth: A Podcast on Biodiversity and Our Sacred Story
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes that “each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence nor convey their message to us. We have no such right” (Laudato Si’, 33).
The United Nations International Biodiversity Day, May 22nd, also occurs during Laudato Si Week, the theme of which is “we’re part of the solution for nature.” To mark the end of the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year and this year’s Laudato Si Week, St Columbans Mission Society promotes ‘The Jubilee for the Earth podcast mini-series and study guide.’ (PDF attached) This resource highlights the beauty of Earth’s biodiversity (the variety of life on Earth) and the threat it faces.
The Jubilee for the Earth podcast mini-series includes six episodes: The spirituality of biodiversity; A new kind of economy; Embarking on the path to dialogue; Nonviolence for the Earth; No land to live on; A new beginning, plus a bonus episode, The death of life.
The study guide that companions the podcast mini-series includes reflection questions and suggested activities. You can learn more about Columbans work to care for biodiversity by using this resource designed for individuals and groups.
- Laudato Si’ audio podcast
Listen to the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ produced by the Columbans and narrated by John Doherty.