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The Pope and the Planet by Peter McAlister

St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and ecology. The twelfth Century mystic and stigmatist died while listening to a reading of Psalm 142, one of the lines of which reads

“Listen to my groaning, For I am in deep despair.”

Pope Francis who assumed his papal name in honour of St Francis might be said to have applied the lines of the psalm to the cry of Planet Earth. In response, his second papal encyclical, Laudato Si (Praise be to you), released in 2015 implored us to “care for our common home.”

The Pope’s prophetic exhortations have now, six years later, been brought into sharp focus by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, August 2021)) which concludes that a climate crisis of an unprecedented nature has been caused by human activities. Wildfires in Greece, Turkey and California; floods in Germany and China and heatwaves in Canada and Siberia are the manifestations of this phenomenon during the summer of 2021.

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CREATION TIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER THIS YEAR by Anna Byrne DC.

season of creationSummer 2021 was a season with a difference, without doubt. We were treated and challenged by our weather. Ballywatticock (Co Down) had unprecedented temperatures of 31.2 degrees, the people living in the Mournes battled wildfires, while the residents in Belleek and Garrison (Co Fermanagh) experienced floods. What extreme weather events in one corner of our tiny island! Further afield fire caused the evacuation of hundreds of people from the Greek island of Evia. Germany and Belgium experienced unprecedented flooding – Palatinate a region  in Germany, had more than a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours. Our house- our common home- has experienced fire and floods in a very short time frame and we humans have caused it! The recent evidence, a grim report published on August 9th2021 by the UN is irrefutable and challenges us to review how we live our lives on our beautiful earth. Pope Francis an outspoken advocate for the care of the planet says, “The deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet.” (L.Si’48) The upcoming Season of Creation with its theme ‘to restore our common home’ – provides an excellent opportunity for us to start rectifying this outrage.

The season of Creation is now part of the Christian calendar. Creation Time, as it is sometimes called, starts on September 1st and concludes, most appropriately, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi on October 4th.  The timing of this season is apt as it coincides with the fruitfulness of harvest and our trees turning from green to red and brown-surely a time to celebrate the bounty and joy of creation! Becoming aware of and taking notice of the grandeur of creation during this season calls us to act to restore our common home. In his ground -breaking encyclical, Laudato Si’, with it subtitle ‘on care for our common home’ Pope Francis says, “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”  (L Si’ 84) By celebrating the Season of Creation, and using Laudato Si’ to guide we can, without doubt, travel a path towards a heightened 2021 Christian awareness and really appreciate God’s greatest gift to us. Afterall, I am unlikely to want to damage something I hold precious.

During Creation Time the global Christian family is called to awaken to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and with each other and to encourage our parish communities to do the same, “for we know that things can change!” (Laudato Si’, 13). Pope Francis is acutely aware that the fate of the poor and the earth are intertwined, for example, when a catastrophic climatic event occurs it is the needy who suffer most, yet they have done little to cause it. During this wonderful season of hope for Christians across the world however it must be remembered that, like so many other things, for change to happen, it must begin with me.  As Robert Swan says, ’The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’  The stark and troubling findings of the UN report, on August 9th, 2021, reinforce the need for us to act for the common good and restore our common home during this season of creation. Nothing major is needed to make a difference, but as the American activist Dorothy Day said, ‘No-one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something’.

Author:  Anna Byrne DC


Daughters of Charity

Where we are

We are women who have responded to the Call of Christ to live out our baptismal commitment by reaching out in His name to the people at the margins of our society. With the help and collaboration of many others we contribute to the provision of Child and Family Services, Pre-Schools, Education, Specialised Services for Young People, Services for People with Intellectual Disability, Health Care Services, Services for Older People, Services in Parishes, Family Resource Centres, Services for People who are Homeless, Vincentian Partnership Programmes, Mission Outreaches, Marian Services, Services to the wider Community and Provincial Administration.


MINISTRIES

The Daughters of Charity have provided services to persons with intellectual disability in Ireland for over a century. Today these services are based in Dublin, Limerick and Tipperary and include community-based residential services...

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MISSIONS

The Daughters of Charity are present in 21 African Countries. The Irish Sisters have worked in Nigeria and Ethiopia since the early 1960’s and now the young Nigerian Sisters have branched out to Ghana and Burkina Faso giving us contacts in all these mission areas...

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St Vincent De Paul. Today 27 September we celebrate the feast of the Apostle of Charity. The founder of the #VincentianFamily in 1617.Vincent de Paul was born in 1581 into a peasant family in Dax in the south of France� He spent many hours as a boy herding sheep on the family farm. Vincent’s ability was recognised at an early age, and when the local pastor suggested to his father that he should be sent to school, his father sold a pair of oxen in order to pay school fees� Vincent was 4 years in school in Dax before going to the Seminary in Toulouse to study for the priesthood, and was ordained in 1600. During the next 17 years Vincent spent some time as chaplain to Queen Marguerite De Valois, became acquainted with Pierre de Bérulle, was pastor of Clichy for a time and then became tutor to the family of Philippe Emmanuel de Gondi, General of the Galleys�The year 1617 marks a watershed in the life of Vincent de Paul� There were two defining moments in that year, the first of which was his experience in Folleville. Vincent heard the confession of one of the tenants on the de Gondi estates� The man was so happy after making a good confession that Mme de Gondi became aware of it and asked Vincent to preach a sermon on general confession in the church in Folleville� So many people went to confession after the sermon that he had to get help from priests from the surrounding area� This experience moved him greatly and he described it in the following words: ‘In Folleville, I felt an interior movement of grace to devote myself to teach and serve the poor country people�’Having left the de Gondi household shortly afterwards, he became pastor in Chatillon les Dombes� On Sunday 20 August he had a second experience that was life‑changing� He was preparing to say Mass when a lady came to tell him of a poor family in dire need� He tells us that the story ‘touched him to the heart’� This led to the foundation of the first Confraternity of Charity.He was persuaded to return to the de Gondi family� With the encouragement and financial support of Mme de Gondi, and in the company of Fr Antoine Portail, he set about giving missions on the de Gondi estates� This was the beginning of the Congregation of the Mission� At the end of each mission a Confraternity of Charity was established on the model of that of Chatillon les Dombes�And so the two experiences of 1617, formed the basis of his life’s work on behalf of people who were poor: taking care of their spiritual and material needs� The 1617 experiences also sowed the seed for the three communities founded by Vincent ‑ the International Association of Charity, the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity� The three communities spread to every continent bringing the charism of Vincent de Paul to the poor and marginalised all over the world�Vincent died in 1660� He was canonised in 1737� ... See MoreSee Less
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