Following the Cosmic Walk, Dr. John Dorner, Liaison for Environmental Stewardship with the Archdiocese of Ottawa, focused on the Church’s position on environmental stewardship and practical actions that support that position. As expressed by Canadian Bishops in their pastoral letter of 2008, the key to moving forward in our relationship with the environment is the need for conversion- freeing ourselves of the obsession to possess and consume. We are called instead to live in ways that allow us to be open to the grandeur of God as experienced in nature – the basis of faith. John made reference to Old and New Testament scriptures as well as Catholic social teachings that speak to the moral imperative to deal effectively with environmental degradation and its harmful consequences, especially on the poor and future generations.
John then spoke about actions that support a culture of life in all its expressions. First we pray, taking time to appreciate the beauty in nature and expressing gratitude to God for the gift of creation. Secondly, he pointed out numerous ways that a parish may undertake responsible stewardship of creation. Ideas included setting up a parish Green Team to determine priorities for action. Possibilities described included ways to conserve energy and water at significant cost-savings to the parish, effective waste management strategies that limit waste going to landfill, establishing a parish garden, purchasing fair-trade products for social functions, and supporting the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace which at this time is focussing on ecological justice. The Greening Sacred Spaces Program of the interfaith network Faith and the Common Good was identified as an excellent source of helpful information for positive actions.
Where do we go from here? Parishioners are encouraged to ask the following questions: How are we doing as stewards of creation in our parishes? What must we do to improve in our responsibilities as stewards of creation? What is the next step that will help us move forward?