Taking steps to live out Laudato Si' fully in the parish and in the community

William Patenaude

It’s been a year since the release of Pope Francis’ blockbuster eco-encyclical Laudato Si’. Since then there’s been lots of talk about it. Now thanks to a group of international Catholic ecologists, parishes everywhere can take concrete steps to live Laudato Si’— and in the process save money, foster healthier communities, and help protect all life in this garden of God that is creation.

The recently released “Eco-Parish Guide” is a simple-to-use booklet that’s packed with helpful tips, loaded with real examples from parishes around the world, and is free for anyone to download anytime.

It’s a perfect “how to” for parish organizations and parish leaders to learn how to run a parish with creation and human health in mind.

The organization that made this free guide a reality is the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which I helped found last year. The group’s global coordinator, Tomás Insua, opens the guide with helpful context about why Catholic communities may wish to use the guide.

Insua notes that parishes have an important role in caring for creation because “as a Church we operate more than 220,000 parishes globally, which accounts for many times more churches, rectories, offices, other parish buildings, and vehicles.”

That’s quite a bit.

In its announcement last month, the GCCM said that the guide is being offered as a resource for parishes to take a first step during “Laudato Si’ Week,” which is being orchestrated to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Holy Father’s encyclical.

Developed in cooperation with the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s international partners, the guide is directed at Catholic parishes globally to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by addressing actions in relation to parish operations, as well as to help the congregation and the wider community do the same thing.

Another solid source for parishes is the Catholic Climate Covenant, which works with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to help bring Catholic teachings to eco-efforts here in the USA. The Catholic Climate Covenant provides online resources for parishes wishing to form “Creation Care Teams.”

Of course, those who aren’t sure if they need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or make eco-friendly operational changes may nevertheless want to implement some of the tips offered by the Catholic Climate Covenant and that are in the GCCM guide simply because being more efficient can save your parish money.

Both of these free resources can help dedicated parish teams make a difference by taking actions such as reducing parish pollutant emissions, saving electricity, using renewable energy, and incorporating all this into the life of the parish—most especially our liturgies and devotions.

In all, these resources will help lots of parishes stay busy this year as they make wonderful, healthy, cost-effective improvements.

The question is, will yours be one of them?

To get started, you can download the Eco-Parish Guide at catholicclimatemovement.global/eco-parish/. For more on “Laudato Si’ Week,” visit laudatosiweek.org/ And for more on the Catholic Climate Covenant’s Creation Care Teams, visit www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/cct

William Patenaude, M.A., KHS, is an engineer with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. He is a parishioner of Saints Rose and Clement Parish, Warwick, and writes at CatholicEcology.net.