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By Sister Hortensia Del Villar, S.A.C.

 The Diocese of San Bernardino will be celebrating its Third Annual Care for Creation Day with a special focus on promoting the Pastoral Statement on the environment by the Catholic Bishops of California: “God Calls Us to Care for Our Common Home.” (Click here for event flyer)

 The event, which will be hosted on October 5th at Soboba Indian Reservation, includes the participation of Mr. Ray Burnell who is the Director of Education and Environmental Stewardship of the California Catholic Conference. Mr. Burnell will be speaking on the pastoral statement in which the Bishops “challenge the people of California to appreciate the beauty of the state and to apply – both individually and collectively – the teachings of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si in safeguarding our natural gifts.”

 This year, Care for Creation Day will be held on a Saturday in order to facilitate the attendance of diverse groups from the Diocese and the community. The Pastoral Statement of the California Bishops, initially proposed by the Diocese of San Bernardino, specifically calls on pastoral leaders, Catholic institutions, young adults, parents, teachers, catechists, public officials, business leaders, artists and those who work the land, to take practical steps to care for the environment. The event will feature the sharing of care for creation initiatives by some of these groups. The youth and young adults are particularly invited to participate. The California Bishops in their letter make special mention of our young adult community and invite them to “pray in natural surroundings and initiate conversations with older adults about environmental protection.”

 Care for Creation Day will be happening around the same time that the Catholic Church will begin the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region 2019. The Synod seeks to address the environmental and social degradation faced throughout the Amazon, a territory that is home to over three million Indigenous Peoples. The Synod will emphasize how the Indigenous Peoples have much to teach us about caring for creation.

 In this way, we feel blessed and thankful to be celebrating our Care for Creation Day in the land and spirit of our Native American community at Soboba Reservation. Part of the day will include a Sacred Walk through an area of the Soboba Reservation. We will taste and appreciate the beauty of land, water, ancestral trees and forest life. We will listen to the wisdom of the Elder Native American community and will enjoy the embrace of the beauty of nature.

In a year when we are hearing about the record number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon, we are called to reflect on our inter-connectedness and co-responsibility to care for creation, our common home. The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. In different ways, forests are our lungs and life support systems.

 We invite all of you to join our Care for Creation Day as a humble but significant way to be in touch with our own support systems here in California. As our California Bishops state in their pastoral statement: “Our state’s great beauty and bounty has stirred the spirits of generations to act on behalf of environmental protection and for the justice that ensures the integrity of the land and its people.” Come and enjoy a day of beauty and transformation in the midst of God’s creation!

 The event is free of charge and lunch will be provided. We ask that you please RSVP by September 23, 2019 by contacting Maria Eva Hernandez at (909) 475-5467 or mehernandez@sbdiocese.org. Event will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Sister Hortensia Del Villar is a member of the Sisters of the Guardian Angel and Director of the Diocesan Office of Community Services and Outreach Programs.