From the first page of the Bible right through to Pope Francis, human beings are called to be “Stewards of Creation.” In 2015 Pope Francis wrote an Encyclical – a letter to the world – called “Laudato Si’.” This means “Praise be to God” and it is the first line of a prayer of St Francis of Assisi, the Canticle of Creation, where he names the sun as “brother” and the earth as “sister.” All of creation is Divine, all of creation is inter-related.
Listen and respond, says Pope Francis, to “the cry of the earth, the cry of the poor.” You can read or download the full letter here – it is well worth taking time with it.
On 2nd/3rd October 2021 a Diocesan-wide launch of Laudato Si’ Invitations, Commitments and Actions took place, with a Pastoral Letter from Bishop Alan, and a major set of resources to accompany significant commitments by the Diocese. Every Catholic in the Diocese was invited to make three personal lifestyle changes to care more deeply for the planet – God’s creation – and the poorest people living on it. Discover wonderful resources, Bishop Alan’s letter, and the full Diocesan document here.
In the parish the Laudato Si’ group began in spring 2021. You are very welcome to join the group – to offer ideas, and to help make them happen. Just email Fr Dominic, to get involved.
One of the first things that happened – with the help of our gardener, Jayne, and the 6th Romford cubs and scouts – was the digging and planting of a beautiful heart-shaped flowerbed in front of the parish centre. From January we had large wooden “hearts of hope” which people added to throughout Lockdown, in different ways. The natural move to a flowerbed gives us a permanent focus on the love and care shown throughout the pandemic, as well as a wonderful haven for bees and butterflies.
We have also let half of the presbytery garden go wild, as well as part of another area of parish land, all to help sustain wildlife and biodiversity.
In summer 2021 we installed cycle racks in front of the church, and encouraged people to cycle and walk to church, rather than driving, if at all possible.
We also add “Laudato Si’ suggestions” into the newsletter each week. So far these have included:
- Pray grace before eating any food or drink, as a reminder that it is all a gift from God
- Take a water bottle when you go out, to avoid buying a single use plastic bottle – saving money, and helping to save precious resources
- Turn the tap off while you are brushing your teeth / shaving – save water
- We welcome suggestions – simple, practical, and cost-free – and this will be a regular feature in the newsletter.
We are in the process of applying for the Cafod LiveSimply Award – more details at https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award
We are already accredited (since October 2020) as a Fair Trade Parish, committed to using Fair Trade products (tea, coffee, sugar, juice, biscuits and wine) for parish refreshments and socials. We also use Fair Trade wine for Communion. The Fair Trade mark is a quality assurance, ensuring the people producing the goods get a fair wage, and work in decent conditions. More details at https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
From autumn 2020 we established a Food Bank Donation Point within the church, taking donations every week to Collier Row, for local distribution to families in need. For more information about Food Banks, hunger and poverty in the UK, go to the Trussell Trust website: https://www.trusselltrust.org/
We will continue to do all we can to “listen and respond to the cry of the earth, the cry of the poor” as part of what it means to live our faith, and serve our community. We will also use ideas from the Diocese of Brentwood Laudato Si’ Invitations, Commitments and Actions to continue to develop this vital part of parish life.