Getting involved during the Season of Creation

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Chris Leigh
Tanzanians celebrate the completion of a well in January 2023. The work was made possible through the Sister Water Project, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa. St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville is raising money for the Sister Water Project during the Season of Creation, an ecumenical effort to celebrate God as creator and sustainer of all life.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

From hosting Eco­logical Way of the Cross liturgies to raising money for clean water projects overseas, Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport are finding ways to observe the upcoming Season of Creation. “We are all called to care for creation and also be courageous and creative,” said Deacon Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action.

The ecumenical Season of Creation is an annual period of praise, prayer and action to celebrate the wonder of how the world was made and to reclaim the theology of its making. The season begins Sept. 1 with the World Day of Prayer and extends through Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis. This year’s theme, “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” depicts the image of a mighty river.

“… [Let] us dwell on these heartbeats: our own, those of our mothers and grandmothers, the heartbeat of creation and heartbeat of God,” Pope Francis said in this year’s message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. “Today they do not beat in harmony; they are not harmonized in justice and peace. Too many of our brothers and sisters are prevented from drinking from that mighty river. Let us heed our call to stand with the victims of environmental and climate injustice, and to put an end to this senseless war against creation.”

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The pope formally embraced the Season of Creation in 2015. Deacon Ferris said diocesan parishes and groups have gotten creative in their plans to commemorate this “still new” season and are sharing their ideas via the Office of Social Action’s website, www.davenportdiocese.org/social-action. “We are meeting passionate people across the diocese, those who also have areas of expertise to share in caring for creation,” he said.

Members of the Pope St. John XXIII Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order are leading an Ecological Way of the Cross on the grounds of St. Ann Parish in Long Grove Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. Parish­ioner Pat DeLuca, a Sec­ular Franciscan, believes the parish’s rural location “sets the ambiance for this Season of Creation. It’s a few miles outside of Long Grove, surrounded by farms. Right now, the corn is up on both sides.” The liturgy, adapted by diocesan Director of Liturgy Deacon Frank Agnoli, encourages participants to reflect on the sufferings of Jesus and to remember that the Earth belongs to God. The diocesan Social Action office has a PDF of the liturgy for anyone interested in hosting an Ecological Way of the Cross.

The diocese is co-sponsoring a showing of “The Letter: A Message for our Earth” at the DeWitt Opera House Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. This 2022 documentary tells the story of Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’.” DeLuca has seen the film and appreciates the effort Pope Francis put into listening to diverse voices around the world affected by environmental issues. “People from all walks of life know about the crisis we are having and the way we are treating Mother Earth,” DeLuca said.

St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville is leading the way for parishes desiring to get more involved in the Season of Creation, Deacon Ferris said. The parish’s Green Team, the care for creation arm of its Social Justice Commission, has a series of events planned.

A Season of Creation Stations of the Cross will take place Sept. 14 after 9 a.m. Mass indoors and at 7 p.m. outdoors. at St. Thomas More. A pole blessing and ceremony will take place Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace, after 9 a.m. Mass. Relig­ious education classes will participate in “creation stations” the first week of October. Through art, photography, music, storytelling and writing, participants will explore St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Creation. On Oct. 4, Father Bud Grant will offer a presentation and discussion, “Francis to Francis: Environmental Theology from the Saint to the Pope,” at 6:30 p.m.

Throughout the Season of Creation, the parish will sell reusable bags and mugs featuring the artwork of parishioner Jo Myers-Walker. Proceeds will go toward the Sister Water Project and the purchase of sustainable supplies for the parish. The Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa, with support from their associates, launched the Sister Water Project in 2006 to bring safe water to villages in Tanzania and Honduras. The parish has been raising money for the project for a few years but the Green Team thought this year’s water-themed Season of Creation would be the perfect time to ramp up support, parishioner Cecilia Roudebush said. “Water is going to be a bigger issue as time goes on,” parishioner Jay Gilchrist believes.

St. Anthony Parish in Davenport is also getting involved with the Season of Creation. Environmental health safety consultant Alisa Wells will speak in the parish center Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. “She comes by her passion for the environment naturally, as she grew up on a farm, and her grandfather was the president of the soil and water conservation service,” said John Cooper, the parish’s pastoral associate. Wells, who is considering becoming Catholic and is a fan of the “Laudato Si’” encyclical, works with companies and governments around the world. “We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family,” she told Cooper.

Deacon Ferris hopes Catholics will continue to share events and ideas on the Social Action website or consider adapting similar programs in their communities. “In many ways, the Season of Creation mirrors the call of ‘Laudato Si’’ in being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the created world, which we are part of. We encourage folks in local parishes to pray, learn and act in response to that call.”


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1 thought on “Getting involved during the Season of Creation

  1. I’m a Dubuque Franciscan and I am thrilled to see this article as well as to hear of the various efforts faithful around your diocese are making to respect nature and creation!! I really miss our Dubuque diocesan newspaper and hope that after Bishop Zinkula gets installed in our diocese, that we will have a joint Dubuque-Davenport diocesan newspaper. Parishioners are often inspired and motivated by hearing what others are doing in their parish, so it would be a win-win situation for all involved!!

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