Laudato Si’ & Growing Our Own Faith

In this week’s edition, The Tablet looks at nature’s beauty and bounty as the summer harvests from many backyard gardens begin to flourish. 

We highlight a garden, which is almost in the shadow of the Capitol Building, at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in Washington D.C. 

We also show you the buzz that is happening at St. Paul Church in Cobble Hill, and how Father Alexandre Morard and the Franciscans in the capital are keeping Pope Francis’s environmental mission alive and well in their own unique ways. 

In 2015, Pope Francis issued the encyclical “Laudato Si’, or Care for Our Common Home.” It was a wake-up call and garnered attention. 

Other examples of living the encyclical in the diocese are the number of solar-powered buildings and projects being operated under the auspices of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens. 

Many local parishes have also cultivated their own gardens maintained by parishioners, the produce of which is then being offered in their food pantry outreach centers. 

This brings to mind a new movie entitled “The Letter: A Message for Our Earth,” which is directed by award-winning filmmaker Nicolas Brown, with scenes shot around the world pointing out climate change and the challenges facing our Earth. 

This film brings Laudato Si’ to the screen in a dramatic way. With the understanding that many Catholics have not read the entire encyclical, this film can give you an excellent primer on what Pope Francis was professing some seven years ago. 

The film is interwoven with the personal stories of five characters, mostly young activists who have traveled to Rome to share their stories with Pope Francis and engage in dialogue with him and other Vatican officials. 

Their stories will touch you. The movie depicts the dry, cracked earth of drought-stricken Senegal, and introduces Arouna Kandé, a young man from Senegal who has become a climate refugee and is now studying sustainable development. The film informs us that more than 1 billion people are estimated to become climate refugees by 2050. 

There is also a young woman from India, and a tribesman from the Amazon rainforest. Their personal stories are matched with scenes of climate disruption around the globe. 

Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio writing a piece in in 2020 entitled “The Lessons of Laudato Si’” wrote of the diocese’s direction in stewardship of the environment. 

“In our own diocese, we try to be good stewards. We invest responsibly in companies that are environmentally sound and do not pollute the environment or, in any way, exploit it. At the same time, we must be more sensitive to the world around us,” Bishop DiMarzio wrote. “Each one of us has a responsibility to make the world a better place as we leave it for those who will come after us. It is so important that we recognize our personal responsibility. 

“Pope Francis speaks to each one of us personally. He gives us great lessons, as he will only ride in small cars; and does not use more of the resources of this earth than he really needs.” 

So as you read of the gardens, and the hives’ relationship with the bees, think of ways you may grow your own faith.