Ecology on Sundays: A resource guide for teaching and preaching (en Español)


To build a better world (Photo: R. Dueweke, Guatemala, 2018)

Pastoral Insights from Laudato Si , Querida Amazonia , Fratelli Tutti ,

And Resources from the United Nations


November 29, 2020 to November 21, 2021 –

Year B – Sunday Lectionary


Compiled by Robert Dueweke, O.S.A.

In fulfillment of project requirement for the Laudato Si  Animators Program

Sponsored by the Global Catholic Climate Movement




The year 2020 is a year most of us would like to forget. The global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) is the worse disease outbreak since the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago. Our lives have been turned upside down and we wonder if things will go back to the so-called “normal” times. The dreary statistics are well known: 1.4 million deaths with 260,000 deaths in the United States alone. As Advent 2020 begins, nearly 60 million global cases have been recorded, and the United States leads with 12.5 million, the highest of all the nations.

We live with new medical strategies that carry new anxieties and unknowns. Families are anxious about their children receiving an adequate education with the unfamiliar online learning environment. Those who are unemployed now find themselves in cars waiting   in the new “bread lines.” Our economic system and its baked- in inequalities are exposed for what they are. The political environment is more divided now than ever with populist and authoritarian movements spawning in many countries. Places of worship have not escaped the fallout of a runaway virus and the necessary shutdowns to protect public health. The face mask is now an addition to  our safety wardrobe, yet its proven efficacy is ignored by many.

Through the human exploitation of the planet’s resources a microscopic virus was unleashed into the natural environment and brought many-layered devastation. The pandemic is a stark reminder that everything is interconnected. What is our future? How will climate change affect the lives of our children and grandchildren and the Earth’s biome?

The answer to these questions depends on the choices we make today. One way to navigate these troubling waters is to turn to our tradition, especially to the scriptures and documents that are meant to be lights for our darkened path. A worthwhile approach to become acquainted with these teachings from tradition is to read them in the context of the lectionary, the yearlong cycle of scriptural readings through which we enter into the mystery of God, through the teachings and life of Christ.

This collection is a practical way to open the treasures of the Church’s pastoral thinking about questions that concern us: the natural environment and climate change, the extinction of species, the poor and the vulnerable, radical capitalism and consumerist lifestyles, technocratic societies, the fragility of democratic institutions, terrorism and nuclear war. In particular, we focus on Pope Francis’s writings on the environment: Laudato Si , Querida Amazonia , and Fratelli Tutti  because they address the issues confronting humanity and offer suggestions for building a better world beyond the time of the pandemic.

Accompanying the ecclesial writings are the diplomatic and academic resources at multilateral institutions like the United Nations.  In section 257 of Fratelli Tutti : On Fraternity and Social Friendship, Pope Francis draws the reader’s attention to the role of the United Nations and its Charter. He states that the United Nations is an “obligatory reference point of justice and a channel of peace.” For that reason, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, “Transforming our world”) and its anniversaries are highlighted at appropriate sections of this collection. We gratefully remember that in 2015 Pope Francis, through the publication of Laudato Si , influenced and promoted the UN’s SDGs as well as the Paris Climate Agreement. The Global Catholic Climate (GCCM) also contributed its influence at these critical junctures and continues to do so.

Homilists, educators and all parishioners can study these words, individually or in small groups (Zoom during the pandemic?), and derive inspiration and guidance from them. Then, in the context of the Sunday scriptures, the homily, the seasons and feasts, our prayer, current events, and global challenges come together in the liturgy. An average of three passages from Pope Francis’s writings are given for each Sunday. An SDG goal, with a hyperlink to its targets, is identified for each month. UN anniversaries are chosen to highlight global concerns and serve as points for reflection. These passages from Pope Francis’s writings and the resources from the UN can be used within homilies, as catalysts for the general intercessions, topics for religious education, and as reading for private reflection or for public discussion in post-Covid-19 faith-sharing groups. Immediately after this English introduction is a summary of the citations provided for Spanish readers. The English citation follows.

This collection is the result of fulfilling a requirement for the Laudato Si  Animators program of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. A second part of the collection, from June to November, is forthcoming. I would like to express my gratitude to those who have helped me put together this project, in particular, my friends in El Paso, Texas, Dr. Jean Ponder Soto, Marco Raposo, Odile Coirier, and from Seoul, South Korea, Young Mi Cho. Without them I would not have been able to have this collection completed in time for the First Sunday of Advent.

This year has had its challenges, but it also offers new possibilities. We have many reference points. We can take, read, pray and be guided by these documents and collections. Our choices make a difference. In fact, our future depends on them.

Robert F. Dueweke, O.S.A.

Permanent Representative of Augustinians International at the United Nations

DOWNLOAD THE 50-page text


Model UN — Hancock High School, Chicago

The Model UN is an excellent program to introduce high school students to the dynamics and issues of the United Nations. Students represent various countries and present issues of those nations in the form of debate. Chicago Hancock High School professor Andrew Martinek brought ten students to New York for a UN program last week. I had the fortunate opportunity to meet the students and answer questions as a NGO representative of Augustinians International. The Model UN can help students broaden their horizons on international concerns in a more globalized world.




Conversion as Transformation: a new book

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and the call to conversion. Conversion is also about transformation. The United Nations is about the business of transformation toward a better and more beautiful world. Written by Dominic Arcamone, Conversion as Transformation: Lonergan, Mentors, and Cinema is an engaging book on self-development and the search for authenticity. The book can provide much inspiration during this season of Lent.

About the book:

The process of human transformation is complex and ongoing. This book presents a framework for understanding human transformation through the insights of Bernard Lonergan. The reader will be introduced to terms such as the turn to the subject, consciousness, subjectivity, and intersubjectivity. It will explore terms such as horizon, feelings, values, self-esteem, sublation, conversion, dialectic, and religious experience. The book explores transformation through the way mentors have authored their own lives, told their own stories, and taken possession of their interiority. Transformation is illuminated through the lives of saints and ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things, such as St. Augustine, Dag Hammarskjold, Vaclav Havel, Franz Jaggerstatter, St. Therese of Lisieux, Fredrich Nietzsche, Katherine Ann Power, and Marie Cardinal. Transformation is also illustrated through the medium of cinema: Babette’s Feast, The Mission, As It is in Heaven, Romero, Dead Poets Society, Ordinary People, The Godfather trilogy, Three Color trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dial M for Murder, and Twelve Angry Men. While the book treats religious, moral, affective, intellectual, and psychic conversion as moments of transformation, it argues that ecological conversion requires all of these so as to meet the most serious challenge of our time.

“Today the international order vibrates in dangerous uncertainty. Multilateralism is under attack. Toxic feelings and nationalistic ideologies contaminate digital space. Opinions and bias become ‘reality,’ truth is suspect and mendacity finds a home. Written in a clear style, Arcamone challenges the reader to explore the dynamics of desire and the critical link between the inner self growing in authenticity and its creation of beneficial exterior structures. If we want to change the world, we need to understand our attitudes, ways of thinking, valuing, and deciding. Coming to know ourselves this way reveals to ourselves what we need to change. New students as well as those more familiar with Lonergan’s insights will benefit from this important work. I highly recommend this book for anyone, especially diplomats and NGO representatives, who are in the business of changing structures and creating a better world.”—Robert Dueweke, OSA, NGO Representative to the United Nations

“Arcamone demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the multifaceted dynamics of conversion as he links highly developed insights to accessible themes, images, and symbols. Take up and read, you will enjoy the journey.”—John Francis Collins, Lecturer & Christian Life and Ministry Discipline Coordinator, Catholic Institute of Sydney

“Dominic Arcamone has written a profoundly pastoral, practical, and intriguing book of theology. In the quest for authenticity Dominic shows his creativity as a communicator by taking us on a cinematic tour of his favourite movies, drawing us into the conversion and transformation of characters and personalities which remind us of our own quest for authenticity.” —Dennis Carroll, Senior Pastoral Care Coordinator, Catholic Healthcare

Dominic Arcamone is a retired mission manager in healthcare. He has also been a sessional lecturer for the Australian Catholic University from 2007 to 2015, writing and teaching graduate and postgraduate courses in theological subjects. He has a B.Th., MTh, MA (Counseling and Pastoral Care), D. Min, Dip. Adult Training and Assessment, and PhD. Since the events of 9/11, he has also focused on the problem of religion and violence and published his first book with Wifp and Stock, Religion and Violence (2015).




Wipf and Stock Publishers
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Tel: (541) 344-1528; Fax: (541) 344-1506
General Inquiries: Ordering Inquiry:

Conversion as Transformation is ACTIVE (Feb 1 2020) and it will be available for order via: W & S Customer Service: Immediately; in 2 weeks; Amazon: in 2-4 weeks; Ingram: in 4 weeks; Kindle: in 2-4 weeks




United Nations — 75th Anniversary

The United Nations is celebrating its 75th anniversary with the theme: Shaping our future together — 2020 and beyond. This is a time to pause and to ask ourselves what is the purpose of this global institution? Does the world need a UN? Do we embrace multilateralism and the democratic process? The Preamble to the UN Charter states that the purpose of the UN was to prevent war in the present and future generations.

For more information:


Testimony by Michael Stevanovich, Augustinians International youth representative from Lehigh University:

This Wednesday, six youth leaders from around the world sat on a panel with the Secretary-General at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday to share their visions for a future that includes the voices of everyone including youth from around the world. This event which placed students alongside ambassadors and prominent UN officials. Amongst the issues discussed were multilateralism, youth empowerment, and climate change. When addressing multilateralism, the panelists highlighted the key role that civil society must play in ensuring a United Nations that represents all voices. Furthermore, we must engage and educate those left behind by multilateralism to heal the divides in our global community. While this event was centered on Youth engagement, the panelist recognized we have much further to go, to address the most pressing issues facing our plant we must embrace Youth as decision-makers and not simply just consultant.

While this forum highlighted some of the key issues facing the next generation, it failed to outline a clear vision to address these issues. This is where Augustinians can play a key role in the UN. As a part of civil society, we must hold the leaders of the UN accountable to more than discuss these issues but rather demand a clear vision forward. To take the critical actions needed to address these key issues we must not only hear the voices of the powerful nations and the corporations but the margins in society that are most affected by these problems and have the greatest insight into the change we need. As Augustinians, we must bear witness and be a voice for those on the margins to ensure that the next 75 years of the UN will truly include all voices.


Welcome Augustinian Sister Jana Anne Akan

We welcome Sr. Jana Anne Akan to our team.

Here biography:

Jana Anne Akan, OSA (Sisters of St. Rita)

Sr. Jana Anne is an Augustinian Sister with Sisters of St. Rita in Racine, WI. She has been involved with social justice work and lay ministries mostly in Los Angeles and Racine. Started her ministries through St. Vincent de Paul Society as an active member by serving the homeless. Later, got involved with prison ministry and ministered the youth at Central Juvenile Detention Center in Los Angeles. She has taught Religious Education in Los Angeles and Racine. Currently volunteers as communion/pastoral care minister and works as a Hospice Chaplain.

Any Augustinian sister who wants to know more about our work at the United Nations should contact me, Fr. Bob, at


Pilgrimage Retreat to Central America 2019

Link to article on pilgrimage AND gallery of photos

Trail of Blood and Tears: A Spiritual Journey to Central America

By Robert Dueweke, OSA

January 2019

The shocks shook me out of a deep sleep. The blasts sounded like bombs or explosives, but I wasn’t sure. Again the sounds cracked the cold night air like thunder claps. Bam-bam-bam. Then I heard the rumbling of heavy trucks down the cobblestone road outside the walls of my adobe bedroom. The frightening sounds played tricks on my waking mind. I imagined trucks transporting soldiers with machine-guns. My blood turned ice cold, chilling my whole body with fear. Are we under attack? Is the army going to kill more civilians? I made an act of contrition and, for a second, wondered why I had so little faith.

In the morning, I asked about the bomb-sounding blasts. A group leader said the sounds were harmless, only the customary fireworks for a birthday celebration. Thus began my ten-day spiritual journey in January 2019 to Central America.

A spiritual journey to Central America

The Maryknoll Society of Priests and Brothers organize an annual pilgrimage retreat for clergy and religious brothers that trace the footsteps of modern-day martyrs in El Salvador and in Guatemala. Our pilgrimage group consisted of seventeen participants from different parts of the U.S. and Canada and five Maryknoll missioners who personally knew and worked with the martyrs.

Who thinks of martyrs these days, those men and women from the past who courageously lived and died in service to the people and to their faith? Like the statues and stained glass windows of a church, I discovered that martyrs are found in the memory of the community.

Through the eyes and experiences of the suffering poor and the martyrs, this retreat offers an opportunity to reflect on our faith, mission, and relationship with God. The shedding of blood is the context; listening and observing are attitudes the participants need on this retreat.

Trail of Blood and Tears: The Hidden Story

Archbishop (saint) Oscar Romero — El Salvador

On the first morning, we departed the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala, and traveled six hours to the San Salvador Cathedral of the Holy Savior in El Salvador. Our first stop was the gravesite of Archbishop Oscar Romero, now saint. A bronze sculpture of the bishop in the state of rest was placed over the tomb. A red marble glass, the size of a golf ball, was inserted over his heart. It indicates his death by an assassin’s bullet in 1980. We then drove to an isolated area in the countryside where the four American female missionaries were tortured, raped and executed that same year. The retreat team then led us to the University of Central America. In 1989, in the middle of the night, at their residence on campus, a death squad killed six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. By the end of the day, our group was emotionally exhausted. I felt numb and did not know how to think. Each stop was a place visited by evil but also a “holy ground” to be venerated.

Room where Fr. (Blessed) Stan Rother was killed by a death squad

After several days of reflection on these terrible events, we returned to Guatemala. Our van crossed over a mountain pass that opened to the view of a large, deep blue, lake surrounded by volcanoes. On the shore of the lake lies the town of Santiago Atitlán. Oklahoma City priest, Fr. Stanley Rother, now blessed and the first American martyr, gave his life here in 1981 for his Tz’utujil Maya parishioners.

In Santiago Atitlán, we also heard testimonies from survivors of massacres that happened around the country. We heard from the bereaved who lost family members to kidnappers or death squads. Their loved ones were never seen again — their remains thought to be in an unmarked mass grave.

In Guatemala, the army launched a murderous campaign of fear and a reign of terror against defenseless natives of the Mayan communities. Throughout the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), an estimated 700 massacres were carried out ending the lives of 250,000 innocent people, mostly Mayas.

Always working in the middle of the night and in an inhuman frenzy, the soldiers barged into the thatched roof huts, broke down doors, and killed everything that moved – the elderly, pregnant women, and infants. The slaughter was done in the name of anti-communism, an unfounded accusation by wealthy landowners, military, and business leaders. Church leadership, since colonial times, often sided with the wealthy elite to protect its own interests.

Catholic leaders and ministers who helped the poor with their basic needs and preached social justice were targeted. We learned about a bishop, 17 priests, and 2000 catechists were slaughtered because their work with the poor was considered to be subversive activity. To ask questions about the economic and political structures that kept people in poverty was an aggression against the state and labeled as communist activity. Sadly, such accusations of aggression also occurred in El Salvador, in other countries in Central, and in Latin America.

Many courageous people committed to social justice risk their lives – still, to this day — collecting evidence and stories from rural Mayas through the Church’s Office for Human Rights.

Why did the army massacre its people? What forces lie behind the hidden story of so much racism and hatred? The Guatemalan government’s systematic violence began in 1954 as a reaction against the “Ten Years of Spring” – a period that included agrarian land reform supported by the previous, democratically elected, administrations. New laws gave poor farmers access to uncultivated land to grow their crops of corn and beans. It was the first legislative attempt to bring Guatemala into the modern era. Signs of progress took root. And yet, the wealthy, powerful few, objected to the direction the country was taking. So, too, did that country in the north.

The U.S. government wanted to have nothing to do with such progress; land reform was trumpeted as communist. This was a lie for the sake of economic and political dominance. The truth was that land and agricultural reform were bad for American investments, especially for the interests of the United Fruit Company. Bananas continue to be cultivated with the imposed servitude and blood of indigenous workers.

Determined to halt such reforms by democratically elected governments, U.S. political and military involvement in Guatemala had a direct impact on creating conditions for the deaths of thousands of poor people. The present-day poverty, assassinations, and corruption are a result of American foreign policy meddling in the political and economic affairs of just Guatemala, but throughout Central America. This is the hidden story of what the U.S. government continues to do in the name of its citizens. These appalling political and economic strategies have been widely documented.

Their Story, Our History

“This is an unusual form of retreat/pilgrimage: you will be implicated in their martyrdom, the massacres with those who died, with those who survived and live with the everyday martyrdom of the poor. You dared to walk with them; you are implicated. Now you can tell their story; now you can tell your story.” Maryknoll brother Mary Shea.

The martyrs “spoke truth to power” and shed their blood as witnesses to the Gospel in their solidarity with the people they served. The ancient Latin theologian Tertullian wrote that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.

I witnessed a church alive with a Vatican II spirit of communion and participation at a Sunday Eucharist in the parish in Santiago Atitlán. Blessed Stanley Rother had left the country because his life was in danger, yet he returned to be with his parishioners: “This is one of the reasons I have for staying in the face of physical harm. The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.” He was ultimately murdered by a C.I.A. -trained death squad. His heart and blood are buried in a parish shrine; they are also sources of life and presence in traditional Mayan beliefs. These symbols speak of the triumph of goodness over evil. The same is true for the blood of martyrs in El Salvador. Philosopher and theologian Ignacio Ellacuría, slain with the six Jesuits at the university, wrote of his friend and archbishop: “With Monseñor Romero God passed through El Salvador.”

What have I learned from this pilgrimage experience? As a representative for the Augustinian Order at the United Nations, my understanding of dictators and autocratic regimes has become more personalized. I see more clearly the link between the bloody history of Central America and the migration of people to the U.S./Mexico border. I learned what you, dear reader, find objectionable: the scandalous involvement of U.S. administrations, in the name of its American citizens, and in the so-called fight against communism, in sacrificing human lives on the altars of business corporations throughout Central America.

We, as Americans, must know this hidden story, the history of U.S. foreign policy. The frenzy over building the wall on the southern border is an attempt to block out and erase forever that history. As the American philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Bishop Gerardi – murdered
Archdiocesan Human Rights Office

When I reflect back on those imagined bombings that first morning in Antigua, I realized it was a moment of grace. For a brief moment, I experienced what the martyrs might have experienced: the shock and fear, as well as the struggle to pray for the strength to stare into the darkness and to commit oneself into the hands of God.

Through the eyes and experiences of the suffering poor and the martyrs, this retreat offers an opportunity to reflect on our faith, mission, and relationship with God. Personally, I learned more about my emptiness and poverty. I also recognize that mission embraces a radical dependence on the power of love. This is how I am “implicated” and this is what I must preach: expose the evil of the lie and welcome the poor, the stranger, and the refugee as the Crucified Christ seeking compassion and hospitality at our nation’s borders. The real border wall is the one erected in our mind and heart that shuts out questioning and forgets our history.

Suggested reading

Thomas Melville, Through a Glass Darkly. The U.S. Holocaust in Central America, 2005.

Optional resource: –


Youth Representative Emma Dillon reflects on UN experience

Emma Dillon

It is hard to believe a year has gone by since we all started working together. It has been a
pleasure and a blessing to work with everyone in Augustinians International. Each person’s
insight, knowledge, and expertise has been an asset in guiding me throughout this journey. I’ll
never forget the first time I entered the United Nations. I was thrilled and uncomfortable all the
same time. I was surrounded by leading change makers in, arguably, the most powerful place in
the world, and I’m only nineteen. “How did I get here?” I asked myself. Now, I walk around the
United Nations like its my local grocery store. I feel apart it just just like everyone else there.
I’ve learned so much in my time at Augustinians International and through my role as a youth
representative. I fully understand the complexity and functions of United Nations and its organs,
and, at times, I’ve been frustrated by it. I had hoped for their to be a bigger voice for civil society
and for there to be more concrete, positive change. However, it has been important for me to
recognize and remember the value of the United Nations and appreciate the small wins. When
faced with the wicked problems of today, it is easy to be discouraged or wishing there was more
that could be done. Because if it can’t be done at the United Nations, then where? However, it’s
okay if after a two hour briefing the AIDS epidemic has not been solved. It’s okay if after a two
day conference the relationship between United Nations agencies and religious affiliated NGOs
has not been perfected. At some point during these meetings, someone was inspired. That
inspiration will transform into action, but it may not be immediate. You have to ask yourself,
would the world be a better place without the United Nations, and the answer is no. If the United
Nations is not providing fast change, it will produce change eventually. After all, AIDS patients
access to treatment has increased, and there was a forum for dialogue between United Nations
agencies and religious affiliated NGOs to discuss how to progress. These are the small wins. The
one’s that take time, but it’s all worth it. I may not have changed the world this year, but I
learned so much. To me, that’s invaluable. I was able to meet new people, explore world issues,
discover new information, network with other organizations, and expand my horizons. I am very
thankful for Augustinians International, the United Nations, and Lehigh University for bringing
me this experience. I cannot wait to see for what next year has in store.
What We Accomplished This Year…
● Attended a two day conference on “UN Strategic Learning Exchange on Religion, Development,
Peace and Security” in June
● Met Fr. Dueweke for the first time in New York in June
● Learned what being a Youth Representative entails and practiced my elevator pitch at the
orientation in September
● Updated our Youth Representative profiles on the Augustinians International website
● Fr. Dueweke and Jack Tierney visited Lehigh on September 28th where we discussed our goals
for the year and toured North Bethlehem
● Attended a high-level event on Peace, Security, and Climate Change Nexus in Africa during
Africa Week in October
● Dined and debriefed with Fr. Dueweke after the Africa Week briefing
● Created a report based on Bernard Lonergan’s philosophy to critically reflect on our time at the
Africa Week briefing
● Met the Augustinian OSA Peace and Justice Secretariat in New York on October 24
● Attended a workshop with Mary Frances Schurtz-Leon on “Networking in a Cross-Cultural
● Co-authored a blog post on the crisis in Congo
● Attended the “Right to Birth” briefing on World Aids Day in December
● Researched organizations to help Fr. Dueweke’s friend’s daughter for her water project in South
● Facetimed Fr. Dueweke and Jean Soto to discuss Augustinians International’s plans
● Attended a “Amplifying the Voices of Rural Women”
● Met with Fr. Dueweke for lunch to catch up after the “Amplifying the Voices of Rural Women”
● Attended a briefing on “The Value of Peacekeeping: Stories from the Field”
● Sat in on a leadership workshop with George White
● Attended the conference “Students Seeking Solutions” organized by our very own Veronica
● Fr. Dueweke and Jack came back to Bethlehem to reflect on the year and our journey ahead