Parish and Local Community Groups: Family, Work and Citizenship
We remind parents that they are the first and principal teachers of children. … It is at home that they develop the habits of self-control, concern, and care that lie at the heart of environmental morality. … We ask business leaders and representatives of workers to make the protection of our common environment a central concern in their activities and to collaborate for the common good and the protection of the earth. Renewing the Earth, United States Catholic Bishops (1992)
As the bishops suggest in Communities of Salt and Light, “[O]ur parishes need to encourage, support, and sustain lay people in living their faith in the family, neighborhood, marketplace, and public arena …” In addition to providing environmental education and action opportunities, parishes and pastors can encourage members to make environmentally responsible decisions by example through managing parish resources and facilities in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Protegiendo Nuestro Futuro (Protecting Our Future)
The National Rural Catholic Life Conference worked with local parishes in Yakima Valley, Washington, on this Pesticide Safety Education Program, which helped raise farmworkers awareness of the dangers of pesticides. A Spanish-language video, programs and announcements on the local Spanish-language public radio station, and formal classes helped educate adolescent and adult farmworkers on reducing the health impacts of agricultural pesticides on their lives and their families.
Mary Help of Christians Parish near Miami produced 5,000 brochures describing its building program. The brochures explain how the program was ecologically in harmony with the land; produced appropriate liturgical, spiritual, and ecological results; and was economically sound. Their goal was to provide ideas and templates for other dioceses and parishes.
The Despiertate Project in Baker, Ore., offered agricultural workers an opportunity to reflect on their responsibility to protect themselves and the integrity of creation from dangerous chemicals in their environment. The program included written and video information on pesticides and other chemicals, a discussion session, training on how to address issues, and opportunities for prayer and reflection.
Parishes in the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky., cooperated to recycle their seasonal missalettes. The project provided work for a formerly unemployed person and a college student, who implemented the project. All funds generated from the effort were used for future environmental projects.
The Interfaith Coalition on Energy, which included the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, prepared workbooks to help parish leaders (pastors, youth groups, and others) to conduct an energy audit and implement cost-effective, energy-efficient practices.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet worked with St. Anastasia, Visitation, and St. Joseph’s Parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to offer a range of discussion sessions, videos, and other materials to help parishioners become aware of ways they can be more environmentally just in their lifestyles. The program’s topics included Church teaching, the spirituality of justice, organic gardening, and sustainable living.
Catholic Community Services in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston educated Catholics about the importance of honeybees to the local ecosystem and to the economy and jobs in the area. Bee keeping in the area was threatened by disease. In addition to the project’s work with the beekeepers, information about the Church’s efforts in the area of the environment was disseminated to area parishes.
Urban Ecology and Earth
The Urban Ecology and Earth Work in Detroit is a neighborhood-based project in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Detroit. With the assistance of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the project plans to create a work-jobs program for 100 residents, sign up of at least 50 households o elderly residents for Earth Work, and involve 200 volunteers.
Campaign for Peace and
This project seeks to create and raise awareness throughout the Bronx to the dangers of noise pollution and the benefits of peace-and-quiet. Newsletters in Spanish and English are circulated to all Catholic parishes and parochial schools of the South Bronx vicariate, Catholic parent-teacher meetings, school assemblies, CCD and other classes. This effort is part of larger community anti-noise pollution campaign.