Caring for the Planet
My message to young people who want to have an impact is to be creative. There's so incredibly much you can do and to not underestimate yourself.
Greta Thunberg, student environmental activist from Sweden
Environmental Justice at Mount Saint Mary’s University
With the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, we believe that Creation is a sacred trust given to the whole Earth community. Individually and collectively, we are committed to asking in every deliberation, “How does this decision/action impact the Earth community?” We raise our awareness, change our behaviors, and recognize our harmful impact. We can simplify our lifestyles through specific, measurable actions regarding water, climate change, food, consumption, and waste, taking into consideration local realities and concerns.
Why does the Mount focus on caring for the planet?
MSMU, in its mission, heeds the call of the Gospel, the mandate of the body of scholarship called Catholic Social Teaching, and the lived charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph, to care for the planet and all who inhabit it. We are inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 document, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home,” to learn, pray and take action for the environment.
- What is MSMU doing to care for creation? Read here about the exciting things that MSMU departments did for Earth Day 2021 and as ongoing initiatives.
“Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Laudato Si’, #50
What is Laudato Si’?
Join us as a Mount community as we learn and take action to care for the environment, inspired by Pope Francis. His 2015 document, Laudato Si’, helps us focus on care for the environment. Learn about Pope Francis’ call to care for creation.
Understanding this important document
- You can read the document in its entirety here on the Vatican site.
- Enjoy this video about Laudato Si’ from Catholic Relief Services, USA.
- Check out Br. Mickey O’Neill McGrath’s book called, “Our Common Home - Visual Meditations of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’”
- Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Pope Francis' Laudato Si.'In this America Magazine video, Fr. James Martin, S.J., presents the ten things you need to know about this important encyclical – from 2015.
- Another good video explanation of Laudato Si’ from CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) in England and Wales.
- Want to go in-depth? Check out the video“Understanding Laudato Si’ Series” by Dan Horan, OFM.
Laudato Si’ Action Platform
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a unique collaboration between the Vatican, an international coalition of Catholic organizations, and “all men and women of good will.” (LS 3) Taking a truly ground-up approach, it is rooted in the strengths and realities of communities around the world, empowering all to take “decisive action, here and now” as we journey towards a better future together. (LS 161)
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform will be launched in stages throughout 2021 and 2022, and MSMU, as part of the Education Sector, will be participating. More information about the timeline is available here. At its completion, the platform will comprise three elements: Laudato Si’ Plans to map our journey, practical guidance on ways to take action, and resources to develop trusted communities of practice.
On October 4, 2021, the Feast of St. Francis, the Laudato Si’ Plans process begins.
Become a Laudato Si’ Animator
Want to be a Mount leader in caring for the planet?
Receive in-depth online training and inspire the community to care for creation. Register here for this free 6-week summer course from Global Catholic Climate Covenant.
- Visit the Catholic Climate Covenant website and learn about their important work for caring for the planet.
Laudato Si’ Week
This week highlights the document that has helped the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics better understand that “everything is connected” and put millennia of Catholic teaching in the context of today’s ecological crisis and climate emergency.
- Download and pray the Laudato Si’ Week prayer card here and offer the prayer throughout the year.
Looking at the geography of urban environments, we often find people of color in close proximity to places that contribute to pollution, making them more susceptible to health and economic struggles not found in other communities. Learn about these dimensions of society and how the work to care for creation can make a difference in racial equity.
- Documentary – “Mossville: When Great Trees Fall” - As a centuries-old black community in Louisiana, contaminated and uprooted by petrochemical plants, comes to terms with the loss of its ancestral home, one man standing in the way of a plant’s expansion refuses to give up. Directed by Alexander Glustrom.
- “Life at the Fenceline” – This short video explains the disproportionate placement of toxic chemical industries in Black and Brown communities.
- The Sisters of St. Joseph statement on Creating Communion at the Intersection of Racism, Migration & Climate Crisis
- As part of their 2021 Earth Day celebration, the Sisters offered a recorded virtual gathering to hear Sharon Lavigne, the dynamic founder of RISE St. James, talk about her work to protect the health of her parish and those in "Cancer Alley" in Louisiana.
Other Environmental Issues and Activities
- How does buying Fair Trade help the planet? Watch this 7-minute video on the impact of climate change on farmers around the world and the positive effect that fair trade can have.
- What’s your knowledge of climate change?Take these quizzes and see what’s happening on our planet.
- Have you heard the term Integral Ecology? Check out this short articleon it related to Laudato Si'.
- How much do you know about animals? Take this quizand see!
- Ever wonder what goes into the t-shirt that you are wearing?Check out this 6-minute video, “The Life of a T-Shirt." We are connected to nature in everything we do, right down to the shirts on our backs!
- Movie nights can be fun and educational! Check out these documentaries about caring for the planet: Ice on Fire, Oceans, Our Planet, Chasing Coral, Flight of the Butterflies, The Biggest Little Farm.
Prayer and Reflection on Creation
- Celebrating Creation Playlist: Enjoy spiritual songs in different musical styles that celebrate our planet and the call to care for God's creation.
- Pray with The Beatitudes inspired by Laudato Si’
- If you attend a prayer service or Mass online or in person today, say a special prayer for the earth.
- Organize a prayer opportunity with your family and friends via video call. You can use this simple guide the USCCB & Catholic Charities USA put together to pray for creation.
- The Sisters of St. Joseph continue their ministry of communion within the Earth community – check out their work here.
- Enjoy these photos of the Earth Day Photo Contest winners and runner-ups!
Season of Creation – September 1 was proclaimed as a day of prayer for creation for the Eastern Orthodox Church by Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. It was embraced by other major Christian European churches in 2001, and by Pope Francis for the Roman Catholic Church in 2015. Each year from September 1 to October 4, Pope Francis has invited all Catholics to celebrate as an annual season of prayer and action for our common home. Join the Mount community as we learn about caring for the earth together with activities all month long!
- 2021 Season of Creation Theme: “A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God”
- Learn more about this international celebration here: https://seasonofcreation.org/
Earth Day – Each year on or near April 22, the Mount celebrates Earth Day with activities throughout the day centering our care for the earth. Movie screenings, fairs, discussions, activities and more invite the whole Mount community to join together to care for creation.