15 How Green is my Parish? - Mary Saldanha

posted May 30, 2018, 10:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 30, 2018, 10:43 AM ]
The Book of Genesis narrates the Story of Creation and says, "God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good." God entrusted His handiwork to humankind, believing that we will care for it and live in harmony with it. How faithful have we been to this mandate given to us?

Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si', expresses anguish at what is happening to our common home, but he also offers hope that we can restore the relationship with Creation and use the earth's goods responsibly. He also emphasises that caring for Creation is in line with the Church's teaching, and not a fad or a contemporary movement. Pope Francis says that as Christians, we need to realise that our responsibility within Creation, and our duty towards Nature and the Creator, are an essential part of our faith.

As members of parishes, we have the unique privilege of being able to reach out to a large group of people, and every individual and community initiative, however small, can potentially have a ripple effect and make a difference. What can we do in our parishes to care for and heal our relationship with Creation?

At Holy Family Parish, Chakala, Mumbai, we have taken several steps towards this. Our church is at the centre of an industrial area, and our efforts have been towards making this an oasis of greenery and calm, amidst a concrete and glass jungle. Some of the eco-friendly initiatives we have taken up:

• Our entire parish campus has been declared a 'No Plastic Zone'. We have replaced all one-time use plates and cups with steel plates and cups which are used at the cafeteria, and at all meetings and gatherings. We have also given each family in the parish a reusable cloth bag to discourage the use of plastic bags.

• Our church is built on a slope, and to facilitate harvesting of rainwater that flows down, we have two borewells, surrounded by two wells, which arrest the water flowing down the slope. This not only captures the water flowing out onto the road, it also helps in recharging the groundwater supply.