The Beacon — The Beacon June 25 2015
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‘Laudato Si’
Cecile San Agustin

Parishes praise Pope Francis’ latest encyclical

CLIFTON In his encyclical, “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis presented every person in the world with a spiritual perspective on caring for God’s creation by giving all a wake-up call on addressing the state of the planet.

The Pope, whose chose his name in tribute to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment, titled his encyclical after a quotation from his namesake’s “Canticle of the Sun” — “Laudato Si” translates to “Praise Be.”

In “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis writes, “We have to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” — much like the message St. Francis preached to his followers in the 13th century.

Throughout the Dio - cese, Catholics have been reflecting on the pope’s encyclical since its release June 18. Many parishes with ministries dedicated to the care of creation were grateful the pope released this timely and important message.

Father Peter Filipkowski, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Mountain Lakes, addressed the encyclical in the parish bulletin last week. “This is a good time to address this moral issue. Pope Francis has frequently linked care for the environment to care for the poor, since it is the poor who suffer most from rising sea levels, from air pollution, from water pollution and from destruction of the rain forests,” the pastor wrote.

“On a more basic level, we need to relearn respect for creation as the gift of God entrusted to our stewardship but not ours to destroy,” he wrote. “Fostering a sense of wonder and awe at God’s handiwork provides a base for caring for creation, not out of guilt but out of joy and gratitude.”

At St. Mary Parish in Pompton Lakes, Jackie Schramm, director of social justice ministry, said, “I feel ecstatic about the pope’s encyclical. I believe this is the issue of the moment and I have tremendous gratitude for the pope for taking on this issue. He’s approaching it in a way that everyone needs to hear — the reality is what is happening to our planet and the poor.”

The ministry at St. Mary’s tackles many environmental issues. For the past few years, members have been focusing on climate change, genetically modified organisms or GMOs in food production and fracking or hydraulic fracturing. The parish group has been educating members of the parish and other people in the community through a Care for Creation Fair, a Lenten program, and many community advocacy gatherings such as the Climate Change March that took place last September in New York City.

Schramm felt the the Pope released his message now to prepare for his visit to the United Nations this September and in preparation for world leaders who will meet in Paris in December for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“There’s a sign on my desk that states, ‘This Pope gives me hope.’ I look forward to everything he says,” she said.

As Catholics start to focus on ways they can act on the pope’s encyclical, Schramm said a simple way is by signing an online petition found on The petition urges global leaders to act on climate change. Also at St. Mary’s the parish will participate in the website’s Global Climate Chorus at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. During this time, prayers will be said around the world by all faith communities regarding climate change.

To get the message across about Pope Francis’ encyclical, Phyllis Philips, youth minister at St. Kateri Tekawitha Parish in Sparta, posted online a video by Jesuit Father James Martin sharing 10 points about the Pope’s encyclical. Next September, she plans to get Confirmation candidates at St. Kateri involved with the Pope’s message. “One of the things I love about my Catholic faith is our rich social teaching. ‘Laudato Si’ adds to that teaching by reminding us of our responsibility to care for ‘our common home.’ This encyclical is hugely readable. Pope Francis urges a conversion of heart that includes learning to live with less,” she said.

“He calls us to a mindfulness in the way we consume and use resources that considers the dignity of the poor who often suffer from our choices,” Phillips said.