By Christina Bagaglio-Slentz
SAN DIEGO — Only 14 1/2 pages long, Pope Francis’ exhortation, “Laudate Deum,” meaning “Praise God,” was released on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis, exhorting us to act in the face of the climate crisis. The same day began the Synod on Synodality at the Vatican, focused on the people of God journeying in communion, participation and mission.
At this year’s Season of Creation Mass on Sept. 24, we celebrated those, here in our diocese, who have reflected these values of communion, participation and mission through their care for creation — our 2023 Laudato Si’ Champions!
Recognizing our global interconnectedness and our call to love our brothers and sisters both near and far, seven parishes, two schools and nine individuals took local action responding to the seven goals of “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for creation:
- Respond to the Cry of the Earth
- Respond to the Cry of the Poor
- Develop Ecological Economics
- Adopt Sustainable Lifestyles
- Promote Ecological Education
- Foster Ecological Spirituality
- Build Community Resilience and Empowerment
2023 Laudato Si’ Champions:
Parishes/Schools – Action Area
Immaculate Conception Parish — Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles
Mission San Luis Rey — Ecological Education
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Barrio Logan) — Community Resilience
St. Francis of Assisi Parish — Community Resilience
St. James Parish — Ecological Spirituality
St. James Academy — Cry of the Earth
St. Martin of Tours Parish — Cry of the Poor
St. Martin of Tours Academy — Cry of the Earth
St. Thomas More Parish — Cry of the Earth
Individuals – Action Area
Aida Bustos — Ecological Education at diocesan Pastoral Center
Brother James Lockman, OFM — Ecological Education, Diocesan Creation Care
Claudia Dunaway and Hud Freeze, Christ the King Parish — Cry of the Earth
Enrique Mandujano, St. Joseph’s Parish (Holtville) — Cry of the Earth
Father Brad Mills, SJ, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Barrio Logan) — Community Resilience
Franco Garcia, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Barrio Logan) — Community Resilience
Jorge Mendoza, St. John the Evangelist Parish (Hillcrest) — Ecological Education
Silvia Paredes — Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles at diocesan Pastoral Center
Youth and Young Adult Champions
Sixty-three Catholic school students submitted original artworks inspired by the theme “For the Beauty of the Earth” in our second annual “Season of Creation” Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Art Contest.
The winners received an award certificate and a $25 gift card during the St. Francis Tree Festival, held Oct. 8 at the diocesan Pastoral Center.
The students from the San Diego-Imperial Valley region honored creation with drawings, paintings and photography. The contest was an opportunity for youth to engage in eco-spirituality, one of the seven goals of “Laudato Si’.”
By seeking to connect with the divine through the beauty of creation, we learn to appreciate this gift from God and respond with gratitude.
This year’s winners include:
First place: Emily Nawoj, St. James Academy, Solana Beach
Second place: Charlotte Roberts, St. Patrick School, Carlsbad
First place: Joshua Nawoj, St. James Academy
Second place: Emmanuel Meza, Sacred Heart School, Brawley
First place: Boyue Deng, Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP)
Second place: Helena He, OLP
First place: Desiree Develasco, OLP
Second place: Korina Apostol, OLP
About 60 people turned out for our St. Francis Tree Festival. Families came from as far away as Brawley for ecological education and eco-spirituality, as they celebrated the Feast of St. Francis.
Sixty-eight Texas live oak trees, provided by Franciscan Brother James Lockman, a local expert and restoration botanist, were blessed. About 30 were distributed to parish and school representatives as well as to families. Every family also took home a native milkweed plant, vital to the successful migration of monarch butterflies. Donations were also accepted, benefiting Misericordia Food Pantry’s use of reusable grocery bags for food distribution in Barrio Logan.
Film Night, with a Purpose
If you are ready to learn more, you are welcome to attend St. Brigid’s screening of “The Letter,” on Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m., a film that presents the voices of “Laudato Si’” — the youth, scientists, the indigenous, and the poor. Christina Slentz, diocesan director of Creation Care, will lead a Q&A following the 80-minute movie. Refreshments will be provided. Please contact Lee Hulburt at email@example.com to register.