22 of 30 Green Actions Underway for Laudato’ Si Action Plan
Year 1 progress report reveals great progress and additional needs
June 2024

In just one year, progress has been made on 22 of the 30 priorities identified in the Laudato Si’ Action Plan for the Church of St. Francis Xavier, across several categories identified by the Vatican.

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.

This climate action plan is led by parishioners, including a member of the Pastoral Council and members of the Environment Ministry, along with staff representing the parish, Xavier Mission and Xavier High School.

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. Bidding is underway to upgrade to LED energy efficient lighting in the church.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The church office is making the switch from plastic cups and plates for events to paper substitutes. Bulletins, sheet music and flyers are now being printed on minimum 30 percent recycled content paper. Music sheets and bulletins are regularly reused after early Masses, reducing the total amount of paper. Printer toner cartridges are recycled. 

 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. Thanks to a handful of volunteers who water the trees twice weekly, they are thriving.

Sustainable Lifestyles, Education & Advocacy:

Celebrations of the Season of Creation, Earth Day, Laudato’ Si Week: A variety of activities were held to celebrate these events, including music, readings, educational campaigns, prayers at the end of the Masses and an art display.  

Composting food waste from Welcome Table: Curbside composting resumes in Manhattan on October 6, 2024. We hope to compost food and flower waste from Xavier High School cafeteria, Xavier Mission and church events.

The parish environmental ministry has led the charge of educating parishioners about pollution prevention and conservation at home and at work:

Museum Exhibit Visit: On Feb. 18, our more active members visited the Climate Museum to see the exhibit “The End of Fossil Fuels”. We promoted this in our bulletin column.  

For Lent, we created our annual Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar and distributed it in-parish and to other parishes. On March 15, we used Metro NY Catholic Climate Movement (MNYCCM) “Stations of the Cross in the Wake of the Climate Crisis” for the SFX Stations and had 42 people in attendance and 10 on the stream, and 162 subsequent interactions with the parish’s Facebook channel and 59 on the YouTube channel.

Three parishioners participated in the extensive training offered by Climate Reality Project in NYC. (April 14-16)

On Apr. 21, we hosted the MNYCCM event with Sr. Laura and several of us attended. Nancy arranged to have Br. Kevin Cawley’s write-up of the event posted on the Laudato Si’ Movement blog.  It was posted in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.   Sr. Imrã Laura Vicuña Pereira Manso is a member of the indigenous Kariri people of Brazil, the daughter of migrant parents and a religious of the Congregation of the Franciscan Catechist Sisters, a graduate in anthropology and specialist in social psychology.  She is vice-president of the ecclesial organization formed as an outcome of the Synod on the Amazon.

Several  members participated in the MNYCCM Prayer Service for the Earth Bill on April 25. Staff from Sen. Gillibrand and Schumer’s offices came down to greet us. Nancy participated in the follow-up zoom meeting with Sen. Schumer’s legislative staff.

On April 28,  a presentation about the mission and work of our ministry to the RCIA group.  Several of them have since joined our group.

Our Campaign on Plastic has been our biggest effort, with a column in the bulletin every week.  We encouraged people to go to Albany to lobby in person  for the bills on plastic:

* The Bigger Better Bottle Bill

* The Packaging Reduction and Infrastructure Recycling Act

Two members went with NY Renews. on Jan. 23.  and  lobbied on the HEAT bill . Seven of us went to Albany with the Beyond Plastics bus on February 27, and four of us went  with the Beyond Plastics bus on May 14. The trips were very well organized in all cases with a rally and appointments with legislators.

We also  conducted a postcard campaign on the two bills by tabling in the back of church and having a pulpit announcement to encourage people to sign the two postcards, one to the Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins, and one to Assembly Leader Heastie. People signed 470 postcards, some of which were signed by the Family Faith parents.  

We also paid for half a table at the Union Square Earth Day event sponsored by EarthDay Initiative on April 14, and collected signatures for both leaders on a petition.  We collected over 372 signatures.  

Through the bulletin column, we have also encouraged parishioners to call their legislative leaders.We also sent out a message to our mailing list asking people to call their state legislators regarding these bills.

We focused several of the weekly “Care of Creation Corner” bulletin columns on the issues of plastics and urged people to contact their legislators.

For Laudato Si’ Week

* We had a prayer service by zoom on Wednesday evening with a small group of 11. It focused on plastic and fossil fuel pollution.

Weekly environmental tips called “Care for Creation Corner” have been included in the church bulletin since summer 2023.

Summer environment film series: Two new films are planned for events in summer 2024.
Plastic Usage Impact and behavioral changes:
In 2023, 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.