Activity Ideas

Form or strengthen your community’s creation care group or ministry

Working in community with one another helps us stay engaged and committed over the long term.

Laudato Si’ says that “all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.” (89) Building on this, the statement of the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazon Region proposed that we “design and develop training programs on the care of our common home, for pastoral agents and other faithful, open to the whole community.” (Final document, 70)

Form or strengthen your community group to nurture your spirits and spark action for years to come. Announce the changes you’ve made during Laudato Si’ Week and invite the community to join you.

To strengthen your community group:

  • Ask your group to dedicate an upcoming meeting to an honest assessment of its efforts to date. During the meeting, celebrate the progress you’ve made together and identify a few areas that still challenge you. You may want to consider whether your group is engaging the community as a whole in three areas of creation care: eco-spirituality, sustainability, and the encouragement of moral environmental policies.
  • As an outcome of the meeting, plan times on your community’s calendar when your group will take action in new ways. You may want to include the Season of Creation (1 September to 4 October), Lent, and Advent.
  • Consider enrolling your community in the Laudato Si’ Circles program to access a wealth of free resources and connect with like-minded communities around the world.
  • During Laudato Si’ Week, announce your commitments to the community.

To form a community group:

  • Identify one or two people who can lead this effort with you. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here to recruit volunteers.
  • Organize a conversation with this group to pray and share your goals. Consider the Laudato Si’ Circles program, which offers a wealth of free resources and connections with like-minded communities from around the world.
  • Following the initial conversation, meet with your pastor, pastoral counselor, or social ministry. Request that the community sponsor your group.
  • During Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May, announce the creation of your group to the community. Invite others to attend by providing contact information for the person who will help enroll them in the group. Use the promotional resources here to share the word ahead of the announcement date.
  • After Laudato Si’ Week, plan times when your group will take action in new ways. You may want to include the Season of Creation (1 September to 4 October), Lent, and Advent. Share plans with leadership and with the community as a whole.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Engage elected representatives

Encouraging the development of moral policies has long been an interest of Catholic leaders. Now, many leaders are realizing that addressing the ecological crisis is essential to supporting the culture of life that Catholic communities value.

As Laudato Si’ says, “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced.” (26)

Work with your community to encourage elected representatives to include climate and ecology in their policies. You may want to consider these steps:

  • Find another person or a small group who will commit to leading this work with you. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here to recruit volunteers.
  • Research which environmental groups are active in your area. You may want to consider groups that serve “front-line” communities, which are disproportionately affected by environmental challenges such as climate change and pollution.
  • Schedule three important meetings: the first with your pastor or other leader, the second with an environmental group in your area, and finally a follow-up meeting with your pastor or other leader.
  • When you meet with your pastor or other leader, thank him/her for his/her action on social issues. Explain that caring for creation is an important way to reinforce and live out the Church’s social mission. You may want to print How does protecting creation express Catholic values?
  • Tell your leader that your small group will write a plan for engaging elected officials in the development of policies on climate and ecology. Ask him/her for guidance. Be sure to ask how your group should engage with parochial or diocesan policy committees.
  • When you meet with members of the environmental group, ask for their advice on which policies are most in need of action. It is often more effective to focus on local and regional policies rather than national policies. Ask about their specific plans to engage officials on these policies, and discuss which of their plans would be a good fit for your small group.
  • As you speak the environmental group, you may want to keep in mind some examples of actions other Catholic communities have taken. These include meeting with officials, writing letters and making phone calls to them, and writing opinion articles for local newspapers. These actions are always stronger when they’re done with a group. No matter what action you take, be sure that it is prayerful and sincere.
  • After meeting with the environmental group, write your plan for engaging elected officials. Be sure to include which policies you’d like to work on, what actions you’ll take, when you will take action, and how you will interact with parochial or diocesan committees. Make sure that your first action falls within Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May.
  • Finally, return to your leader with your written plan. Ask whether he/she has any input and update if needed.
  • During Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May, take the first step in your plan. Announce that your group has begun engaging elected officials throughout the year. Invite others to join by providing contact information for the person who will help enroll them in the group. Use the promotional resources here to share the word.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Complete an energy audit and plan to reduce emissions

Taking steps to understand and reduce your community’s greenhouse gas emissions is a concrete way to respond to the urgent need to solve the climate crisis.

As Laudato Si’ says, the “present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.” (161) Decisive action begins with understanding where we are. Only then can we move in a different direction.

To lead your community in an energy audit, you might want to consider these steps:

  • Find another person or a small group who will commit to leading this work with you. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here to recruit volunteers.
  • Ask to speak with your pastor or other community leader. During the meeting, thank your leader for his/her action on social issues. Explain that caring for creation is an important way to reinforce and live out the Church’s social mission.
  • Describe what an energy audit is. An energy audit is a way to understand your community’s current energy use. It entails assessing your normal energy use (for example, by looking at past utility bills) and your habits (for example, by walking around your grounds to look at light bulbs). Many organizations provide free tools to complete energy audits. A tool that is available in your area can be found through an online search. In the US, the EPA provides an Energy Star for Congregations program that helps you understand and manage your energy use.
  • Request that the congregation complete an energy audit. Offer the help of your small group to conduct the audit.
  • Assist your community’s building manager, facilities committee, parish council, or others to complete the audit.
  • After the audit is completed, request a meeting with your pastor or other leader to discuss the results. Come to the meeting prepared with suggestions for ways to reduce energy use.
  • Some of the most impactful ways to reduce energy use are reducing heating and cooling (often by installing a programmable thermostat and by changing current temperatures by one degree), lowering the setting on any refrigerators or water heaters, and switching to LED light bulbs. If your community has a generator, it may also want to consider limiting its use. If your community is located in an area with several hours of sun every day, it may want to consider installing solar panels. In the U.S., the Catholic Energies program can provide resources and financing for clean energy installations. Additional options are available in the Global Catholic Climate Movement Eco-Parish Guide.
  • Request that the community implement at least one way to reduce energy use. Announce the change to your community during Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May. Use the promotional resources here to share the word.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Hold a prayer service for a just transition to clean energy

It’s imperative to stop the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. It’s also imperative that this transition be done justly, with respectful regard for the men and women who now work in the fossil fuel industry.

As Laudato Si’ says, “Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment.” (128)

Organize a prayer service for a just transition to clean energy. The prayer service may take place in your community or, if possible, near a site associated with fossil fuels, such as the office of an electricity provider, mining company, or oil producer. Invite leaders from the fossil fuel installation to participate in the prayer service with you. Be sure that you collect any permits necessary for a prayer service outside of your location and that you pray peacefully and sincerely for justice. If you are asked to leave, we encourage you to do so.

The prayer service should take place during Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May. You may want to consider including the following steps:

  • Find another person or a small group who will commit to leading this work with you. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here to recruit volunteers.
  • Use the promotional resources here to invite your community to attend the prayer service.
  • Open with readings from Scripture, such as Job 12:7-10, Psalm 95:4-5, and Luke 12:24.
  • Invite a speaker to give an interpretation of the readings. The speaker could ask the group to consider that creation is the Lord’s and that we are its stewards. Caring for all creation means both protecting the Earth and protecting our brothers and sisters who share it. A transition to fossil fuels must be done quickly and without delay, but it is important that this transition be done justly, with ample care and respect for those who now work in the fossil fuel industry.
  • Sing a song related to creation or a song related to care for our brothers and sisters.
  • End with a prayer, such as the prayer that closes Laudato Si’ or the prayer included in this toolkit.
  • In the days following the prayer service, follow up with attendees to let them know their prayers are appreciated. Send them any response from the fossil fuel installation, if your service took place there, or updates on actions that were taken by other communities during Laudato Si’ Week.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Align your investments with Catholic values

Our investment decisions affect people around the world. It’s important that we apply our Catholic values to the decisions we make about investments.

After all, our financial investments are nothing more than one way we can implement the vision of Laudato Si’. They are not ends in themselves. As Laudato Si’ says, “we need to reject a magical conception of the market.” (190)

Updating your institution’s financial portfolio to conform to Catholic values, especially if your institution has investments in fossil fuels, is an important way to hasten the transition to a clean energy economy. A clean energy economy is essential to protect our brothers and sisters around the world.

Moral management of financial investments can take many forms, as described below. Commitments must be implemented within five years.

  • Divest from fossil fuels, inspired by the synod on the Amazon. The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region wrote that “we embrace and support campaigns of divestment from extractive companies . . . we call for a radical energy transition.”
  • Combine strategies of engagement and divestment. Engaging as a shareholder in fossil fuel companies is one way to encourage them to make a quick transition to clean energy. Maintain the minimum amount of investment that is needed to engage as a shareholder. Make sure the fossil fuel company you’re invested in knows that you have a clear deadline of two years to see your requests implemented. If your requests are not met within two years, you will fully divest.
  • Pursue impact investing. Make sure that your investments make a difference. On the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative website, you can learn more about how the investments of your institution can create a positive impact for people and the planet.

The decision to divest is often made in this way:

  • Find another person or a small group who will commit to leading this work with you. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here.
  • Ask to speak with your pastor, bishop, or other leader about updating your institution’s investments to be in line with Catholic values. If your goal is divestment, prepare for the meeting by printing this sheet of frequently asked questions.
  • Thank your leader for his/her action on social issues. Explain that caring for creation is an important way to reinforce and live out the Church’s social mission. Describe how updating your institution’s investment portfolio is part of caring for creation, as we must urgently transition to a clean energy economy to protect creation and all who share it. Ask for your institution to make the commitment during Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May.
  • Follow up on this meeting by speaking with your institution’s parish council, finance committee, or other decision-making body.
  • Work with your institution’s leaders as they decide to sign the commitment form.
  • Announce your new investment decision to your community during Laudato Si’ Week. Consider hosting a small event during Laudato Si Week to celebrate this commitment. Use the promotional resources here to share the word.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Represent your commitment with a symbolic gesture

Cement your community’s commitment and inspire more people to take action through a symbolic gesture.

A symbolic gesture represents your community’s pledge to bring care for creation into its ministries. As Laudato Si’ says, “There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions,” and your community’s ongoing acts of ministry can add up to great protection for our common home. (211)

Symbolic gestures could include the following:

  • planting a tree to represent your long-term commitment to creation,
  • attending a climate strike to represent your solidarity with young people, or
  • installing a native plant garden to represent your belonging in the web of life.

To prepare for your symbolic gesture, consider taking the following steps:

  • Find another person or a small group who will commit to leading this work with you. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here to recruit volunteers.
  • Ask to speak with your pastor or other community leader. During the meeting, thank your leader for his/her action on social issues. Explain that caring for creation is an important way to reinforce and live out the Church’s social mission.
  • Offer the help of your small group to implement creation care. For instance, your group might provide lesson ideas for religious education, organize prayer services, or lead an event for the Season of Creation. Resources for these actions are available free of charge online.
  • Request that the community’s commitment to caring for creation be celebrated during Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May. Suggest one of the symbolic gestures above, or develop your own.
  • Use the promotional resources here to share the word about the symbolic gesture and invite your community to attend.
  • During the symbolic gesture, you may want to hold a brief prayer service into your symbolic gesture.
  • In the days following the symbolic gesture, follow up with attendees to let them know about the next steps your community will take.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Develop your own activity

Suggested actions for Laudato Si’ Week are below, but you’re welcome to organize any action that is a good fit for your community. To plan something impactful, you are encouraged to consider an action that meets these criteria:

  • is inspired by Laudato Si’,
  • accelerates solutions to our ecological crisis, and
  • builds community for the long term.

As examples, perhaps you’d like to act as a mentor to a community in your diocese that is interested in acting on Laudato Si’, plant a pollinator garden, reduce the use of cars in your parish, or weave lesson plans about Laudato Si’ into the religious education calendar for the year.

Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Tips for organizing a successful activity

Planning well is key to organizing a successful activity. In addition to the tips within the activities above, consider the following steps:

  • Recruit people to join you. A small team will distribute the work, attract support, and organize an activity more easily. Invite team members with these resources. Either reach out directly to people you know or use the recruitment resources here to recruit volunteers.
  • Engage your community’s leaders. Their expertise and authority are crucial to your activity’s success.
  • Create a plan and put each step in a calendar. This is the best way to ensure your activity is feasible.
  • Be sure that team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Appoint one person to hold team members accountable and answer questions.
  • Use the promotional resources here to share the word about your activity.
  • Be sure to register your action on the Laudato Si’ Week global action map and to share stories and photos from your community on social media with the hashtag #LaudatoSi5.

Prayer for use at your activity

Creator, Redeemer, Holy Spirit,
thank you for the gift of Laudato Si’, which teaches us
that “The Creator does not abandon us;
he never forsakes his loving plan
or repents of having created us.
Humanity still has the ability to work together
in building our common home.”

Creator, you give us life.
Help us to honor you
as we care for your precious creation.

Redeemer, you give us hope.
Help us see new ways of living
as we turn from the path of destruction.

Holy Spirit, you give us unity.
Help us find strength in the love between us
as we seek healing for the Earth.

Amen.

Register or find an activity

Register your Laudato Si’ Week activity here.

Find a Laudato Si’ Week activity to attend here.

Register your Laudato Si’ Week activity here.

Find a Laudato Si’ Week activity to attend here.

About Laudato Si’ Week

Laudato Si’ Week is a week-long celebration of ambitious, prayerful actions to protect creation. It commemorates the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology and climate change.

In the five years since Laudato Si’ was published, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, species have continued to disappear at an astonishing pace, and our brothers and sisters around the world have continued to suffer the effects of a planet in crisis.

At the same time, Catholic communities everywhere have taken concrete steps to reduce their environmental impact, connected to the Creator in prayer, and encouraged the development of moral environmental policies.

During Laudato Si’ Week, we look back to celebrate the incredible actions Catholic communities have taken to date, and we look ahead with a commitment to accelerate action to protect our common home.

Laudato Si’ Week is sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development and facilitated by Global Catholic Climate Movement and Renova+ in collaboration with partners. See more about Laudato Si’ Week here.

About Laudato Si’

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, is Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and ecology. It was signed in 2015 on 24 May, the Solemnity of Pentecost. Its title means “Praised Be” in the Umbrian dialect spoken by St. Francis.

The encyclical is a reflection on how to practice the essential Catholic principle of valuing life in the midst of the unimaginable devastation of our planet. Laudato Si’ responds to a world that is daily growing hotter, more polluted, and more devoid of life. It frames the urgent need to solve these challenges within the long history of Catholic teaching about ecology, and draws from statements made by St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and bishops and scholars from around the world.

Building on these foundations, Laudato Si’ asks us to consider the deep connections between how we treat God, each other, and all creation. The encyclical proposes a lens of “integral ecology,” through which we see that the environmental catastrophe–in all its dimensions–is one symptom of a greater social catastrophe. (137)

As Laudato Si’ says, we don’t face “two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” (139) In the economy, policy, and technology, in biodiversity, resource management, and global warming, and even in our theology, we see that broken relationships have dire consequences for our world.

Hope is possible. We are called to sincerely assess our mode of living and to renew the bonds that tie us to each other and our Creator. As Laudato Si’ says, “If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships.” (119)

Laudato Si’ is a rich and moving document that offers new perspectives and opens new areas of inquiry in the body of Catholic teaching. It has been embraced by Catholic communities around the world. Bishops’ conferences, dioceses, parishes, religious communities, and Catholic schools and universities.

Around the world, communities taken up its clear and coherent guidance on the roots of and solutions to a planet in crisis.

Frequently asked questions

1. What do you mean by bold action that goes a step beyond what we’ve already accomplished?

In the five years since Laudato Si’ was published, Catholic communities have organized prayer services, hosted educational events, planted trees, installed solar panels, encouraged elected officials to develop moral environmental policies, and taken thousands more actions in the spirit of Laudato Si’.

Each of these actions is a blessing that honors the Creator and protects creation. But the environmental crisis isn’t slowing down. We need to accelerate our response. It’s important that we respond with the urgency and clarity that the crisis demands.

That’s why you’re invited to evaluate the actions you’ve done to date and take the next step. What “the next step” means is up to your community.

2. None of the suggested ideas seem like a match for my community. May we develop our own action?

Yes, absolutely! You’re welcome to organize any action. To plan something impactful, you are encouraged to consider an action that meets these criteria:

  • is inspired by Laudato Si’,
  • accelerates solutions to our ecological crisis, and
  • builds community for the long term.

Be sure to register your action on the global action map to inspire others.

3. How does protecting creation express Catholic values?

Protecting creation expresses essential Catholic values: honoring our Creator and loving each other.

As Catholics and as Christians, we believe that all life is the gift of a loving God, and that the Earth was given us to keep and to till. We have certainly tilled the Earth, but we haven’t kept it very well. We haven’t protected creation as a gift; we have not stewarded it for the good of all. Righting this wrong honors our Creator.

Caring for creation is also a way to care for our brothers and sisters. A changing climate means unpredictable rain, stronger storms, and spreading mosquitoes. This in turn means more hunger, more sickness, more migration, and more conflict. The end result is needless suffering.

Climate change affects everyone, but the poor have fewer resources to avoid and recover from its devastating consequences. Addressing the crisis of climate change is a fundamental way to care for all people, and especially for “the least of these.”

4. How should I begin a conversation with my pastor or other leader?

A conversation with your pastor or other leader is an excellent way to begin working on Laudato Si’ Week and on creation care more generally. Here are some suggested guidelines for a respectful, productive meeting:

  • Identify a friend or small group who will commit to leading this effort with you.
  • Set an appointment to speak with your leader. Let him/her know that you’d like to talk about your community’s response to Laudato Si’. Be sure to mention who is attending and when you’d like to meet.
  • Prepare an agenda for the meeting. A draft agenda might be the following: 1.) Thank your leader for his or her work on social issues. 2.) Explain that caring for creation is an important way to reinforce and live out the Church’s social mission. 3.) Propose organizing an activity for Laudato Si’ Week. 4.) Explain how your team will coordinate the event and when it would take place. 5.) Ask the leader to add the activity to the community calendar.
  • To prepare for questions your leader might have, print any of the sections from this toolkit or from the promotional materials.

5. What is Laudato Si’ Week?

Laudato Si’ Week commemorates the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, a milestone teaching in the history of the Church.

In the five years since Laudato Si’ was published, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, species have continued to disappear at an astonishing pace, and our brothers and sisters around the world have continued to suffer the effects of a planet in crisis. At the same time, Catholic communities everywhere have taken concrete steps to reduce their environmental impact, connect to the Creator in prayer, and encourage the development of moral environmental policies.

During Laudato Si’ Week, we look back to celebrate the incredible actions Catholic communities have taken to date, and we look ahead with a commitment to accelerate action to protect our common home.

6. When was Laudato Si’ published?

Laudato Si’ was published on 18 June 2015 and signed on 24 May 2015. Laudato Si’ Week commemorates the signature date.

1. What do you mean by bold action that goes a step beyond what we’ve already accomplished?

In the five years since Laudato Si’ was published, Catholic communities have organized prayer services, hosted educational events, planted trees, installed solar panels, encouraged elected officials to develop moral environmental policies, and taken thousands more actions in the spirit of Laudato Si’.

Each of these actions is a blessing that honors the Creator and protects creation. But the environmental crisis isn’t slowing down. We need to accelerate our response. It’s important that we respond with the urgency and clarity that the crisis demands.

That’s why you’re invited to evaluate the actions you’ve done to date and take the next step. What “the next step” means is up to your community.

2. None of the suggested ideas seem like a match for my community. May we develop our own action?

Yes, absolutely! You’re welcome to organize any action. To plan something impactful, you are encouraged to consider an action that meets these criteria:

  • is inspired by Laudato Si’,
  • accelerates solutions to our ecological crisis, and
  • builds community for the long term.

Be sure to register your action on the global action map to inspire others.

3. How does protecting creation express Catholic values?

Protecting creation expresses essential Catholic values: honoring our Creator and loving each other.

As Catholics and as Christians, we believe that all life is the gift of a loving God, and that the Earth was given us to keep and to till. We have certainly tilled the Earth, but we haven’t kept it very well. We haven’t protected creation as a gift; we have not stewarded it for the good of all. Righting this wrong honors our Creator.

Caring for creation is also a way to care for our brothers and sisters. A changing climate means unpredictable rain, stronger storms, and spreading mosquitoes. This in turn means more hunger, more sickness, more migration, and more conflict. The end result is needless suffering.

Climate change affects everyone, but the poor have fewer resources to avoid and recover from its devastating consequences. Addressing the crisis of climate change is a fundamental way to care for all people, and especially for “the least of these.”

4. How should I begin a conversation with my pastor or other leader?

A conversation with your pastor or other leader is an excellent way to begin working on Laudato Si’ Week and on creation care more generally. Here are some suggested guidelines for a respectful, productive meeting:

  • Identify a friend or small group who will commit to leading this effort with you.
  • Set an appointment to speak with your leader. Let him/her know that you’d like to talk about your community’s response to Laudato Si’. Be sure to mention who is attending and when you’d like to meet.
  • Prepare an agenda for the meeting. A draft agenda might be the following: 1.) Thank your leader for his or her work on social issues. 2.) Explain that caring for creation is an important way to reinforce and live out the Church’s social mission. 3.) Propose organizing an activity for Laudato Si’ Week. 4.) Explain how your team will coordinate the event and when it would take place. 5.) Ask the leader to add the activity to the community calendar.
  • To prepare for questions your leader might have, print any of the sections from this toolkit or from the promotional materials.

5. What is Laudato Si’ Week?

Laudato Si’ Week commemorates the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, a milestone teaching in the history of the Church.

In the five years since Laudato Si’ was published, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, species have continued to disappear at an astonishing pace, and our brothers and sisters around the world have continued to suffer the effects of a planet in crisis. At the same time, Catholic communities everywhere have taken concrete steps to reduce their environmental impact, connect to the Creator in prayer, and encourage the development of moral environmental policies.

During Laudato Si’ Week, we look back to celebrate the incredible actions Catholic communities have taken to date, and we look ahead with a commitment to accelerate action to protect our common home.

6. When was Laudato Si’ published?

Laudato Si’ was published on 18 June 2015 and signed on 24 May 2015. Laudato Si’ Week commemorates the signature date.