A group of 25 Redemptorists, Partners in Mission (PIM) and friends throughout the North American Conference met online last Saturday (May 7) to discuss raising environmental consciousness and share concrete ways to address the climate crisis.
“Our gathering was hosted by Fr. Cristian Bueno, chair of the Commission for Social Ministry, Justice, Peace and Integration of Creation (SM-JPIC) in Rome,” explained Fr. Francis Gargani of the Baltimore Province, who coordinated the meeting in North America. “The climate crisis is real.
The clock is ticking. If we don’t address it and save our common home, nothing else will matter.”
The meeting followed a worldwide gathering of Redemptorists and PIM in Rome last February, and Fr. Cristian’s first session with the Asia- Oceania Conference. “They are at the forefront of this movement because they are experiencing the horrors of climate change. The island nation of Malaysia is suffering with natural disasters and typhoons, and the land is being eaten away by the rise of the oceans,” he said.
Fr. Francis was impressed with the level of awareness of participants, which included a few experienced social justice experts: Fr. Paul Hansen of the Province of Canada, who has been involved with justice and peace issues on the international level for many years; Matthew Marquardt, Redemptorist Associate and founder of Catholic Conscious in Canada; Van Bensett, Life Directions project director in Chicago who serves on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Commission on Ecology and is working on Ladauto Si gardens in the inner city; and Kevin Cawley, C.F.C., Ph.D., an Edmund Rice Christian Brother who serves as executive director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College.
After a powerful address by Father General Michael Brehl, participants shared initiatives in which they are already participating. In addition to common thermo- stat control, water conservation and recycling efforts, initial suggestions include reducing energy use by at least 20 percent within the next year or two, and reviewing the investment portfolio with a social conscience. Participants followed up by sharing helpful resources available from various agencies throughout the North American Conference.
“Our challenge is to bring enthusiasm to our local communities to make real lifestyle changes,” Fr. Francis said. He has already scheduled a presentation by Kevin Cawley and Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND on October 1 in Washington, DC.
Fr. Cristian and the SM-JPIC have drafted a proposal on the Congregation’s response to Ladauto Si and the seven-year platform for parishes, dioceses and religious orders to implement Ladauto Si. Plans are to refine that document during the next few years, and issue it as an official statement at the next General Chapter.
by Kristine Stremel
courtesy of “Denverlink”, update of May 13, 2022