On this Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, I call your attention to an issue that has been a growing concern for the Church for decades and which Pope Francis has more recently highlighted, calling us to both reflection and action. This past June we marked the fourth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, in which he invited all persons to care for “our common home,” the planet God created for humanity to inhabit. Pope Francis expressed the need for an “ecological conversion” — that living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue, to a Christian life (LS 217). All Christian communities have an important role to play in ecological education (LS 214).

On this occasion, I make an appeal to you: that each parish have a “Green Committee.” I have been glad to learn that some of our parishes already have such committees, and have done good work. I encourage additional pastors and parish councils to consider this request. A Parish Green Committee can help in at least three tasks: firstly, to help raise awareness of the needs of stewardship of creation; secondly, to help the parish community to live more responsibly toward the home God created for us and for future generations to inhabit. At the diocesan level, I have met with a dedicated committee that calls itself, “Stewards of Our Common Home.” I encourage our parishes to invite this group of experts in various fields and committed Christians to your parishes to share ideas in caring for God’s creation and our common home. Our new Diocesan Director of our Office of Life, Justice and Peace, Marcus Cabrera, has been meeting with the Stewards of Our Common Home and will be your liaison with this committee. I have asked Marcus to make a variety of resources available on our website; you may also contact him directly. Thirdly, I recommend a sustained advocacy for policy that helps to sustain the home God has given us to care for and inhabit.

St. Francis, pray for us, that we may be responsible stewards of the gifts God has entrusted to us.