“I sell chicken rice for a living. How does my profession affect the environment?”
“My electricity bill is around RM400 per month and it is just me, my husband and my grandson living in the house. Why is my bill is so high?” “My electric bill is always less than RM20 each month.” These were some issues raised the 62 participants who attended the Laudatu Si formation given at the Church of Divine Mercy, Penang (CDM). This one-day formation was conducted by Magdalene Chiang, a volunteer at the Penang Green Council on the 23rd February.
The session began with an opening prayer by Fr Martin Arlando, parish priest at CDM. In his welcoming address he mentioned that Pope Francis was earnestly aware of the increasing destruction of the world’s environment through man’s careless actions. He said that even at CDM we can all be more caring of our surroundings. As the Pope’s Encyclical Letter on the Care for Our Common Home, Laudato Si’mi Signore (2018 publication) is quite a lengthy document, this formation was organized to give the parishioners a brief summary, in practical terms, of what we could do within the parish to save the destruction of our home here on earth. However, each participant had already been sent a PDF version of the Encyclical Letter over their WhatsApp for them to read the message of the Holy Father in greater detail .
The session then continued with a short video to show the impact of pollution on the environment. The sentence Laudato Si’ mi Signore was then explained to be “Be Praise to you, my Lord” taken from the words of the poem and later the song Canticle of the Creatures by St Francis of Assisi. This Encyclical Letter written in 2015 in which Pope Francis issued a powerful message on our moral responsibility to care for creation. Magdalene then gave a brief history of this movement going back as far as Pope Paul VI in 1971. The Catholic Church with its 220,000 parishes and 1.2 billion people representing 17% of the World’s population can provide hope to this global crisis.
She then went on to explain the effects of Climatic Change that is caused by human activity bringing about self-destruction through human sin of greed and lack of concern to global warming. She continued to give examples and statistics of deforestation, use of fossil fuels, intensity of animal farming, the ‘Consume and Waste’ culture with the increasing use of plastic products and mounting landfills of waste added with the effects of our wasteful use of water in our daily lives.
Magdalene then introduced an activity matching statements of God’s creation from the bible with that from the CCC and Laudato Si document. This was to create an awareness and a reminder that God has explicitly asked that we care for the environment we live in.
In the second activity, the participants were each given the role to be a designated endangered animal. They were the asked to stand on an island of newspapers. A group of others were then asked to carve up the island by building roads, housing estates and other land destructive projects. This made the animals separate and those who could not retaliate were pushed into the sea or just died. The activity served to show the perspective of animals as they faced extinction as a result of human activities on their environment.
At lunch, the participants were remindered to take only the food they could eat and cultivate a zero waste mentality of food wastage. To show evidence of this practise, a photos were taken of the rubbish bins after the lunch and participants were shown what they had left behind or the food they had wasted.
This followed an explanation of Ecological Conversion and Eco-Spirituality for personal and community conversion. The 6Rs of Refuse, Reduce (18 examples), Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle (examples of what and what could not be recycled and where to send it) and Regenerate, aroused much interest among the participants.
The most enthusiasm generated was the session that allowed each person to audit their home electrical usage from a Home Energy Audit Kit. Participants were able to share how each one managed to save electricity usage as well as identify wastage due to use of certain high consuming home appliances.
The Care for Creation Ministry was then launched and members were invited to become Ecological Citizens at CDM. A list of 10 projects were identified and Magdalene explained how to obtain the local
certification of “Green Office” and “Aqua Save” by
the Penang Green Council & PBA, in which that agency may give a monetary incentive on the re- certification after two years.
A bookmark on A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation and a statement on My Ecological Conversion (LS 217) was handed out and recited by participants. The formation ended with a 20-minute meditation session.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
2nd March, 2019