WASHINGTON--The three dioceses in New Mexico and the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, have been awarded grants to educate parishioners on environmental concerns by the U.S. Catholic Conference Environmental Justice Program.
The program awarded $4,000 to the New Mexican Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Dioceses of Gallup and Las Cruces, for the second phase of the San Isidro Environmental Project and $6,000 to the Lansing Diocese for an effort to organize parishes to work on environmental concerns.
The San Isidro Project Phase II follows the 1998 release of the New Mexico bishops environment pastoral, Partnership for the Future, and the 1998 statewide ecumenical conference on the environment and Catholic social teaching.
During 1999, the San Isidro Project will conduct a follow-up series of four leadership mini-retreats around the state to bring the message closer to the parishes and to organize a broader network of Catholics and ecumenical partners to address New Mexico environmental concerns.
The Project will also host a state-wide conference on economic growth, the environment and the poor in Las Cruces in associaiton with the Feast Day of St. Francis, October 4. The ultimate goal of this project is to help the Church in New Mexico influence state environmental public policy to be more in accord with Catholic social teaching.
Canticle of Creation - A Catholic Response to Creation, aims to organize six to ten parishes in the city of Lansing for a year-long environmental justice leadership program for parish youth and adults. Day-long sessions conducted during the four seasons will help Catholics understand the Church's approach to the environment based on Scripture, theology and Church social teaching. The program will emphasize the connection between spirituality and the moral commitment to care for God's creation. Training sessions will use sacramental theology to explore themes of the beauty and grace of Creation (Baptism); the wounds of Creation (Reconciliation); the transforming power of Creation (Confirmation); and a new vision of Creation (Communion). Individual parish sessions will culminate in a larger gathering of all participants.
The USCC Environmental Justice Program provides regional grants of $ 4,000-6,000 for environmental network building and public policy agenda development. Initiatives are selected for their uniquely religious responses to environmental concerns and their link to Catholic social teaching.
The Regional Grants Program is one of several initiatives of the Environmental Justice Program of the USCC Department of Social Development and World Peace. The program seeks to educate and motivate Catholics to a deeper respect for God's Creation, and to engage parishes, diocesan and Catholic organizations in activities that deal with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor.
Other activities include development of parish education and action kits, leadership retreats, and publication of the book, And God Saw That It Was Good: Catholic Theology and the Environment.
This program is part of a larger ecumenical effort known as the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. In addition to the USCC, cooperating partners include the National Council of Churches, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Persons seeking more information about the program may call 202-541-3182 or visit its Website: www.nccbuscc.org/sdwp/ejp. Persons wishing too order any of the materials from the program may call the USCC Office of Publishing and Promotion Services at 1-800-235-8722