On Pentecost 2023, the Church of St. Francis Xavier adopted a three-year Laudato’ Si Action Plan, based on more than 12 months of research and input from parishioners, leaders of ministries and outreach groups, religious and staff. The plan, “Greening our Parish, Enriching Our Lives” was published and distributed.
In just six months, progress has been made on 15 of the 30 priorities identified in the plan, across several categories identified by the Vatican.
Care for the Poor
Parishioners lent their time and treasure to support Xavier Mission’s work to reduce food and housing insecurity in NYC. Thousands of people are served free meals, offered free clothing and rental assistance each month. The executive director participates in Catholic Charities Advocacy Days in Albany and DC regarding food insecurity and housing policy.
Promoted Laudato Si’ in homilies, prayers of the faithful, Mass announcements, and bulletin. Summaries of Pope Francis’ new Laudate Deum were shared in a series in the bulletin and social media. The Laudato’ Si prayer was said at all Masses during the Season of Creation, and a prayer for successful outcomes of the 2023 United Nations Climate Summit (COP28) was said at the Masses on the two weekends of the conference.
An intention that relates a theme from the readings to a concern for the environment has been included in the Prayers of the Faithful almost every week.
To celebrate Laudato Si’ Week and the launch of our Laudato Si’ Action Plan, the parish music ministry produced a successful “Songs for the Earth: an audio-visual extravaganza” with music, spoken word and projected visuals on June 5, 2023, with nearly 200 attending in-person and more than 900 views on YouTube of the livestream recording.
We also commissioned banners for our parish that announce that we are a Laudato Si’ Parish. The banners still hang in the church and prompt questions about what they mean.
For the launch of the LSAP, the Environment Ministry designed postcards with the Laudato Si’ Prayer and distributed them to all parishioners.
After the devastating wildfire in Maui, Hawaii, in August, we collected more than $1,000 for relief efforts and sent it to Catholic Charities in Hawaii.
Sustainable Lifestyles, Education & Advocacy:
Composting food waste from Welcome Table: The city council has been contacted, but it is unlikely that composting pickup will be restored before Manhattan restores it in late 2024.
The parish environmental ministry has led the charge of educating parishioners about pollution prevention and conservation at home and at work:
Weekly environmental tips called “Care for Creation Corner” have been included in the church bulletin since summer 2023.
Summer environment film series: Three films were screened, with an average of 40 participants attending each discussion. Celebrations of Season of Creation, Earth Day, Laudato’ Si Week: A variety of activities were held to celebrate these events, including music, readings, educational campaigns, and an art display.
Cry of the Earth
Energy Audit: An energy audit of the church, mission, and school was completed in July 2023, and potential solutions and costs are currently being reviewed, like insulating the water heater room and installing LED lighting in the main church.
Tree Planting: Two large Japanese maple trees were planted for the Pentecost/LSAP launch at the church portico, and volunteers are helping to water them each week.
Plastic Usage Impact and behavioral changes: The Environment Ministry hosted an in-person screening of a film about plastics “Microplastic Madness” during the summer and again online in the fall. We conducted a baseline survey on plastic usage by parishioners and published the results in the bulletin. During the Season of Creation, the Environment Ministry wrote a series of articles for the bulletin that highlighted different aspects of plastic pollution and offered ideas on how to minimize the use of plastic, especially single-use plastic. The Ministry also organized a tour of the city’s recycling center.
In December, the Ministry organized a Christmas gift craft fair which included fair trade decorative products, products made of recycled materials, as well as products that would help individuals reduce their use of plastic.
We aim to focus on environmental economics by hosting an expert to speak about divestment from fossil fuels in personal investment portfolios and to educate parishioners about ethical banking practices related to climate impact.
The steering committee is asking individuals and families to prayerfully consider how they might join this effort to ensure its success. Ministry and outreach groups are encouraged to leverage existing programs and activities to incorporate sustainability education and actions. If you’re interested in joining the SFX Environment Ministry, please email: SFXEnvironmentMinistry@gmail.com