Catholic parishes and schools offered prayers and activities throughout April to mark Earth Day (April 22), and recommit to answering Pope Francis’ call in his encyclical Laudato Si to care for God’s creation.
The Holy Name of Jesus, Redlands, which has a robust Creation Care Ministry, promoted Earth Day by distributing flyers and prayer cards and by asking that the prayers of the faithful and homilies on Earth Day and the closest Sunday to Earth Day included a focus on environmental stewardship.
Since the beginning of the year, The Holy Name of Jesus’ Creation Care Ministry has participated in eight clean-up and habitat restoration projects in partnership with the Redlands Conservancy. Three of the projects were clean-up Saturdays at the San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary and the remaining five projects were “Tending Creation” Wednesdays at the Gateway Ranch. These projects have drawn around 80 individuals, both from The Holy Name of Jesus and from nearby St. Adelaide, Highland. The sessions always begin and end with prayer and reflection, using ideas from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside, emphasized the importance of Care for Creation by holding a Mass on April 23 (the day after Earth Day). Deacon John De Gano gave a homily on the connection between St. Francis of Assisi’s encouragement to “proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical and Earth Day. The prayers of the faithful for that Mass included several prayers for caring for our common home. After the Mass, attendees were invited to participate in the Blessing of Gardens prayer service, in which seeds, plants, tools and gardeners were blessed.
Schools, too, made sure to celebrate Earth Day with activities and projects. For example, St. Catherine of Siena School, Rialto, started a seven-week reuse event in which a green bin is placed on campus for donations of clothing, shoes and textiles (bedding, small rugs, towels, etc.).
Our Lady of the Assumption School, San Bernardino, worked with California State University, San Bernardino to plant trees and vegetable beds at the school. St. Joseph School, Upland, also planted trees and held a campus clean-up session.