This September, the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life & Evangelization is sponsoring an eight-part series of educational and theological presentations that demonstrate how caring for God’s Creation is an integral part of Catholic teaching on the sacredness of human life and dignity.
“Every aspect of our faith belongs to the one ‘deposit of faith.’ Care for God’s creation isn’t a standalone concern,” said Marianne Weltmer, Director of the Diocesan Office for Life & Dignity. As the USCCB states, “Care for the earth…is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation.” (Pub. No. 5-315) “All of life is interconnected,” she added, “and caring for one another means showing respect for the spaces that we share.”
Each presentation in the eight-part series will be offered in-person and virtually at a different parish in the Diocese. Bishop Timothy Senior will celebrate the Diocese’s first Care for Creation Mass at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 9 at St. Katharine Drexel Church in Mechanicsburg. The first talk of the series will follow. Mr. José Aguto, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, will share his experience helping Dioceses focus on sustainability.
Subsequent presentations will focus on the Creation stories in Genesis, the Eucharist as the source of Creation, the Church’s history in caring for Creation, Catholic Social Teaching, Laudato Si, and St. Francis and his Canticle of Creation.
“There are people that are very susceptible to changes in the environment. We don’t often consider that taking care of the environment is one way of helping the poor and the vulnerable. What we do here and now has an impact on both our immediate and remote environments – places and people we don’t know, and that includes future generations!”
The Creation Series takes place during what is known as the “Season of Creation,” expanding from the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1 through the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4. It’s a time for Catholics to renew their faith in the God of Creation and join in prayer and efforts for the care of our common home. Pope Francis established this special day of prayer in 2015, the same year of his encyclical Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.
Still, the Church’s care for Creation is nothing new. As Weltmer points out, “The book of Genesis reveals how God created the earth and charged man and woman ‘to cultivate and care for it’ (Genesis 2:15); hence it features prominently in Catholic Social Teaching. As Catholics, we see greater meaning in our natural environment and our place in it. We remind ourselves that our resources are limited, requiring the virtue of moderation to avoid further threat to, or debasement of, human life.”
The Creation Series is “an invitation to enrich the whole of our faith by giving special attention to this one foundational aspect of it,” Weltmer said.
The Creation Series kicks off Saturday, September 9 and concludes Monday, October 2. Sessions are open to all; participants can attend individual or all sessions.
The dates, locations, speakers, and topics are as follows:
Saturday, September 9 at 10 a.m.
St. Katharine Drexel Church
1 Peter Drive, Mechanicsburg
Care for Creation Mass with Bishop Timothy Senior
Lunch with presentation by Jose Aguto, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant
$15 for lunch (registration required for lunch)
Monday, September 11 at 7 p.m.
Holy Spirit Church
300 W. Pine Street, Palmyra
“The Creation Stories in Genesis” presented by Father Anthony Dill with special guest Father Alex Roche
Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m.
St. Pius X Church
112 Fairview Drive, Selinsgrove
“It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This! Genesis 3” presented by Father Joshua Cavender
Monday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
St. Joseph Church
2935 Kingston Road, York
“The Eucharist as the Source and Summit of Creation” presented by Father Peter Rettig
Wednesday, September 20 at 7 p.m.
St. Joseph Church
5125 Grandview Road, Hanover
“The Church’s History of Care for Creation” presented by Father Michael Rothan (bilingual/Spanish)
Monday, September 25 at 7 p.m.
St. Theresa Church
1300 Bridge Street, New Cumberland
“Catholic Social Teaching and How We Show Care for Creation” presented by Father Matthew Cannon
Wednesday, September 27 at 7 p.m.
St. John the Baptist Church
315 N. Constitution Avenue, New Freedom
“Care for Our Common Home” presented by Michael Wright, LSW
Monday, October 2 at 7 p.m.
St. Francis of Assisi Church
1439 Market Street, Harrisburg
“St. Francis and the Canticle of Creation” presented by Father Manuel Aviles, OFM Cap. (bilingual/Spanish)
Registration is required to attend lunch on September 9. The Mass is an open event. (If cost is an issue for anyone, please contact Marianne Weltmer at email@example.com or call 717-657-4804, ext. 322.) Remaining sessions are free of charge and will include a virtual option. Each presentation will be approximately one hour.
For more information on the Series, and to register for any or all parts of the series, visit www.hbgdiocese.org/creation.
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness