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Keep on Doin' What We're Doin'

Our parish Green Committee started in 2009. When Laudato Si was published in 2015 we gave it the best exposure we could. Our bishop gave it a good send-off; Santa Clara University got behind it; a few parishes formed discussion groups; some started Green Committees. Laudato Si was inspiring because, unlike many encyclicals, it displayed force and bluntness: a spade was clearly a spade.

How did we use Laudato Si?  We name-dropped it whenever possible, making reference to it, quoting juicy passages, serializing it (for almost a year) in our parish e-bulletin. It's fingerprints were all over the place.

How did our parish react? Even though our pastor and parish administration were on-board with our ideas, we started small. Over a period of time, while we were educating our own team, we began talking with our parishioners about the little things they could do: "Close the door, close the window; Ride your bike." Eventually we moved on to larger-scale projects: to more extensive fixture and equipment replacements and to our most recent capital expenditures for two-site solar arrays. (The "Return-on-Investment" and Pope Francis both played a part - though saving money on our utility, perhaps, had the edge.)

Our most recent semi-annual report to the parish gives some details of our activities.

What was the parishioners reaction? Though we have no hard data, anecdotally we know some parishioners have heartily gone the green mile in their households and lifestyles. There's been no expressed opposition to our suggestions. We've even received an occasional pat on the back. But there isn't much (that we know of) of a widespread crusading, mind-changing, political campaigning, change-hearts-and-minds, letters-to-the-editor. This, however, is done well and regularly by the many non-profit creation care groups with which we are associated, like Catholic Climate Covenant.

The future may be iffy and we don't yet sense a common strategy we can all get behind. We have a newsletters that helps keep the environmental struggle front and center. It may be more educational than inspirational, but the readers are ultimately the doers. And we'll keep on doin' what we're doin'.


Walt Lundin is the founder of the St Thomas Aquinas Parish Green Committee in Palo Alto, CA.

Learn more about the Covenant's Creation Care Team program which St Thomas Aquinas parish is a part or and which provides monthly resources and individualized staff support for free.

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