By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
With the Season of Creation commencing in two weeks, the diocesan Office of Social Action hosted a virtual Lunch and Learn to raise awareness for this ecumenical effort.
The Season of Creation spans five weeks between the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Sept. 1) and the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4). “As followers of Christ from around the globe, we share a common call to care for creation,” the Season of Creation website states. “We are co-creatures and part of all that God has made. Our wellbeing is interwoven with the wellbeing of the Earth.”
Deacon Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action, began the Lunch and Learn Aug. 3 with a promotional video for this year’s Season of Creation. It featured diverse voices from around the world, including Sister Alessandra Smerilli, F.M.A., secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. “This Season of Creation will be an opportunity to pray, reflect and act together as the People of God for our common home,” she said in the video. “Like tributaries joining forces to become a mighty river, the ecumenical family will come together on a synodal path of care for our common home through justice and peace.”
Rev. Jerry Pillay of South Africa, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, highlighted the urgency of the Season of Creation. “Biodiversity is being lost at a rate not seen since the last mass extinction,” he said in the video. “The hope of keeping average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius is fading. The futures of young people are threatened by the Cascadian impacts of the loss of biodiversity and a changing climate. Industrialization, colonization and the extraction and consumption of resources have created great wealth, unequally distributed. We are presently more aware than ever of the link between fossil fuels and violence and war.”
Justice “calls us to repentance and a change of attitude and actions instead of despair; hope can be created if we work together as the people of God,” Rev. Olivia Graham, retired Anglican bishop of Reading, England, said in the video.
Deacon Ferris shared with the online gathering reasons to feel joyful locally. Last year, the diocese committed to a path of sustainability by establishing an action plan to reduce Chancery greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. And last month, the Catholic Climate Covenant’s U.S. Laudato Si’ Champions Awards ceremony honored the Davenport Diocese with an honorable mention. The diocesan action plan will remain in effect after Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula leaves the diocese to lead the Dubuque Archdiocese in October.
Several parishes and groups, including St. Ann Parish in Long Grove and St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville, are hosting Season of Creation events. The Social Action Office plans to share ideas and a calendar of events on the diocesan “Care for Creation” page at https://www.davenportdiocese.
org/care-for-creation. Deacon Ferris encourages individuals and groups to share comments and ideas through a form on the website. “It will inspire others to do likewise,” he said.
Sarah (Adams) Callahan, diocesan social media coordinator, has begun posting Season of Creation content on the diocesan social media pages. She invites parishes and individuals to share the posts to raise awareness. “Social media is a great way to extend your reach exponentially,” she told participants.
Watch the Lunch and Learn on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/Aug2LunchLearn. For a copy of the Ecological Way of the Cross and other resources, contact the diocesan Social Action Office at
firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.davenportdiocese.org/lunch-and-learn.