Caring for our common home
Near Fourth and Iowa streets in Davenport, at the lunch hour on Wednesday, 50 people stood bundled up in the chill of the January sun and prayed.
Many of them Catholic sisters from area orders, they gathered at the site of one of two dozen billboards placed throughout the region – including the Quad Cities – to raise awareness of caring for the environment. The billboards also are in support of Pope Francis’s recent encyclical letter, Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home.
Locally, sisters who collaborated on the billboards include the Benedictine Sisters of Rock Island, Sisters of the Humility of Mary from Davenport, and Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton. Additional orders from Iowa and Wisconsin are involved, too. The sisters’ “Care for our Common Home” message was first shared through ads placed in USA Today and local diocesan newspapers during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September.
“If religion doesn’t have the right to speak to this, who does?” said Kathleen Storms of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary. She is the director of the Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat near Wheatland, Iowa.
It is not the first issue the sisters have brought to the public to consider in the form of a campaign, she added. Four years ago, they created an effort that encouraged the welcome of immigrants and refugees. With the caucus coming, and the pope’s letter,
St. Paul is connected with the orders represented on Wednesday: St. Paul supports the housing initiatives of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Each fall, staff, council members, and mission board retreat with the Benedictine Sisters and supports the St. Joseph the Worker House. St. Paul also has an active environmental team that works to improve Earth-consciousness in this corner of the world.
On Wednesday, the sisters read excerpts from Laudato Si:
- The world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.
- The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.
- We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.
- We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair.
- Everything is related and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river, and mother earth.
- What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up.
- Today we cannot help but recognize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice in the discussions of the environment, to hear the cry of the earth with the cry of the poor…We forget that we ourselves are Earth (Geneisis 2:7). Our own body is made of the elements of the plant its air is what gives us breath and its water gives us life and restores.
Those gathered prayed for creation, the implementation of the agreement from the Paris Climate Conference, for people who work in government, and for each of us – that we can work together for the good of all creation.
“God of love, show us our place in this world. As channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we love.”