Religious communities are at the forefront of the ecological conversion that Pope Francis calls us to undergo in Laudato Si’.
For decades, religious communities have led the way in helping their members and Catholics around the world undergo ecological conversions, “whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (LS 217).
During “Sowing Hope for the Planet/Creation Care Prayer Network,” Thursday’s Laudato Si’ Week dialogue, religious women and men explained how all of us can experience an ecological conversion and deepen our prayer life.
Sister Jyotisha Kannamkal, a Laudato Si’ Animator with the Sisters of Notre Dame from India, offered a moving prayer to start the event. She invited the audience to pray for creation and especially for the delicate situation her country is enduring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sr, Leetta Hammack, of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Paraguay, explained how all of us can begin our ecological conversion.
The Global Catholic Climate Movement defines the term as “a change of heart, or a spiritual and practical transformation rooted in faith towards caring for God’s creation. It is a process of becoming aware of our contribution to the social and ecological crisis and acting in ways that nurture communion with God, creation, and each other.”
The ecological conversion begins at the personal level and then takes place at the community level, she said. “The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion” (LS 219).
“Like Mother Teresa, we educate with the conviction that the world can be changed through the transformation of persons,” Sr. Hammack said.
“We are called to live in a way that recognizes and values our interconnectedness, the dignity of life, and of all creation.”
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Sr. Beatrice Hernandez, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary (USA), explained how institutions can undergo an ecological conversion.
She offered an overview of the community’s ecological actions during recent decades, including how they’ve returned land to its prairie state, celebrated Earth Day since 1980, and created green space to support monarch butterflies and other butterfly species.
“We know that we must root our efforts in prayer, consciousness-raising, and relationship-building. We remember that we are people of hope; let us also be people of action,” she said.
Father Edwin Borlasa, of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of the Philippines, and a member of the Justice, Peace and Integrity office, explained the socio-cultural level of an ecological conversion.
He shared the complete plan for a carbon-free system, starting from small communities and eventually covering the entire country.
Christina Leaño, associate director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, ended the dialogue by launching the new Creation Care Prayer Network, a network of communities around the world committed to the healing of our common home.
The network is connected through prayer and Eucharistic adoration and warmly welcomes religious and lay contemplative communities.
Already more than 200 communities from 34 countries on five continents have joined the network that will accompany all people and species most affected by climate and ecological injustice.
“The goal of this Creation Care Prayer Network is to join Catholic institutions, congregations, and communities around the world in helping more people care for creation and undergo the needed ecological conversion through prayer,” she said. “You can imagine the power if we bring these prayers together.”
The event was moderated by Sister Sheila Kinsey, FCJM and Brother Alberto Parise, MCCJ, who reminded everyone of the benefits of a life dedicated to prayer with God.
Brother Parise said: “Prayer unites our will to the will of God and in prayer, our life is dipped into the love that God gives and that we receive.”