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Archdiocese of Washington Celebrates the Feast of St. Francis

On Sunday, October 30, the Archdiocese of Washington’s Creation Care Team invited Dan Misleh, our Executive Director, to facilitate Catholic Climate Covenant’s annual Feast of St. Francis program. This year’s theme is “Dial Down the Heat: Cultivate the Common Good for our Common Home.” Parishioners from all over the archdiocese attended the program eager to engage in discussion and activities focusing on what it means to engage in respectful dialogue to care for our common home. 

Sharing a home in God’s creation means sharing a part in the story of creation. And stories themselves are meant to be shared and call us to action. One participant opened up about how her parents' Texas home is suffering from heavier and more frequent rainfall due to climate change. Their desert town, however, doesn't have the draining infrastructure to handle so much rain, and therefore gets flooded frequently.   

Another participant spoke about his home state of California, which is suffering from drought. Drier climates lead to forest fires and forest fires destroy the natural vegetation that holds soil in place, leading to more frequent mudslides that have a devastating impact on local homes and businesses.   

When we share our stories and recognize the effects of climate change in our personal lives, we realize that this is not just an abstract phenomenon. We come to understand that, as individual members of one created family, we’re crying out also as Pope Francis states: “This sister [earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”   

At the Feast of St. Francis program, we saw this especially when another participant opened up about how climate change is affecting her loved one’s health. She’s observed that heavier rainfall caused by climate change encourages mold growth. And her uncle, who is currently battling cancer, is now also dealing with mold poisoning. Climate change shapes our health and wellness on a personal level. For instance, according to the American Lung Association, climate change aggravates respiratory illnesses like asthma, especially for the most vulnerable of society. Low income families are “more susceptible to health threats because of where they live or work, including near places that have higher levels of pollution, or because they have a harder time getting medical care [...] They also face greater challenges responding to extreme weather events” (American Lung Association).   

As all participants’ stories illustrate, climate change is not only a threat to the beauty of God’s creation, but also to the life and dignity of the human person—especially the most vulnerable in our society. After  hearing the personal stories shared at our Feast of Saint Francis Program, many participants now see the concern for climate change as a pro-life issue. Being pro-life means being pro-life on earth in God’s creation. 

 “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. […]” So states Pope Francis in Laudato Si’. We respond to this call of action to protect our shared home when we take time to listen to those around us—from our family to our neighbors to our congressmen and women and beyond. When we share our stories and listen to the stories of others, we realize that ours is part of an even bigger story – the story of creation. 

For more information on how to host a Feast of Saint Francis program in your school or parish, click here.

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