A New Attitude: One Parish’s Response to “Laudato Si’”
by Linda Gorrell, OSF, St. Benedict’s Parishioner and Volunteer in Terre Haute, IN
As a secular Franciscan called to follow in the footsteps of Christ in the example of St. Francis of Assisi and as a member of the Franciscan Parish of St. Benedict in Terre Haute, Indiana, this “season of creation” is essential.
St. Benedict Parish has signed a commitment with the Catholic Climate Covenant to participate in caring for Mother Earth actively. Recently in our parish, we formed an umbrella we call JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity for Creation) and have four groups under this umbrella; Creation Care Team, Global Solidarity, Refugee and Immigration, and Racial Justice.
We also have many volunteers who feed our hungry Monday through Friday. On the fourth Saturday of the month, our Secular Franciscans and friends serve a hot breakfast and offer a sack of groceries to provide weekend assistance to those in need. Our soup kitchen recycles.
We have a community garden that helps supply food to our soup kitchen. We are currently working with all committees to transition from a plastic mentality to thinking about more “earth-friendly” products. We have made great strides in this area. Our Creation Care Team investigates the possibility of solar energy for our parish.
Becoming a Secular Franciscan has changed me and my attitude towards life. There are a few people in my family who think I’ve “lost it.” If they only understood that I’ve “found it.” And then, others in my family truly love who I’ve become, and as the matriarch of my family, I am responsible for being an example of a person doing my best to follow and live out the Gospel. I am especially reminded of my grandson, who took the name “Francis” as his confirmation name.
Looking at what is happening to Mother Earth and the devastation in so many places worldwide, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed. I hear the cry of the people! Life offers us so many opportunities to participate in caring for creation. I take a deep breath and pray for direction, asking God to help me follow the path he has planned for me. I pray. I rinse out cans to be recycled. Every small thing or large thing makes for a better Mother Earth. Everything we choose to do to help Mother Earth comes at a price. The price we pay might be “time” or “monetary,” but so be it! What a small price to pay as we reflect at the foot of the cross of Jesus.