With the release of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical, Laudato Si, now more than two years past, Diocesan leaders are looking to give new, local life to the Holy Father’s call for responsible stewardship of the earth.
On October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the Diocese, in partnership with St. Joseph Parish in Big Bear, will offer “Care for Creation Day,” the first of what it hopes will be an annual day of reflection and learning about the message of Laudato Si, as experienced through the natural environs of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
To be held in scenic Big Bear, the day aims to be a more prayerful and experiential exercise than an academic one, says Sister Hortensia Del Villar, S.A.C., who chairs the Diocesan Laudato Si Committee.
“By placing ourselves in such a beautiful place and allowing our senses to fully take in what God has created in this planet – our little part of the planet – I think the Holy Father’s message will be more powerful to us,” she said. “There will be discussion and points of information, but the main objective is to fully experience what it is we are called to care for and protect.”
Care for Creation Day will include an opening prayer and reflection, a guided walk led by a naturalist from the U.S. Forest Service, and a talk on Laudato Si with Catholic Relief Services representative Maria Arroyo. At the close of the day, attendees will be invited to build a birdfeeder from natural materials as an “action to care for creation,” with guidance from Gabi Oogjen of St. Joseph. Father Al Utzig, Pastor of St. Mary Parish in Fontana, will close the day with prayer that will incorporate a Native American smudging ritual.
This free event will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Snacks and water will be provided but participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch as well as wearing comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for walking in the mountains.