Interfaith service at Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates Pope’s call to ‘care for our common home’

By Patrick Sand and Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

We are here not to walk on the water, but to walk on the Earth.

That was the heart of a quotation offered by Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Father Jack Walmesley as he welcomed more than 150 people to an interfaith gathering last night, “Praised Be,” celebrating the encyclical letter on the environment, “Laudato Si,” issued earlier in the day by Pope Francis, which begins:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]

2. This sister 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. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. …

Underscoring that the Earth should be cared for on behalf of future generations as well as ours – it is described in the encyclical’s subtitle as “our common home” – a copy of the Pope’s message was carried into the church by OLG sixth-grader Emily Amesquita (top photo).

OLG parishioners Dan and Robyn Campbell, introduced as committed environmentalists, talked about losing a tree in their yard and having to answer their three-year-old’s question about where the squirrels would live.

They built a little house for the squirrels, they explained, saying it was a “teaching moment,” helping them to instill in their children a reverence for the Earth and how we must all take care of it.

Father Walmesley also spoke of understanding “the breath of God,” not just how it is experienced on Earth but how scientists have seen through the Hubble Telescope and in other ways that it is alive in the galaxies and stars whose light reaches us now from across seemingly endless space. We’re here, he said, to understand the complexity of the world that St. Francis of Assisi understood and that Pope Francis has called all people to understand now.

Those in attendance also heard from Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University.

She spoke about the theology of the encyclical and how it applies to daily life.

And a closing prayer, the Chinook Blessing, was offered by Sister Pat Eley from the Sisters of Providence, also a member of the Duwamish Tribe:

Then Emily carried the encyclical out of the church, as people followed, invited to stay and learn more about living sustainably

Before the service, visitors were invited to see and consider the sustainability-focused features of OLG’s 3-year-old Parish Life Center.

In our photo under some of the center’s solar panels are, from left, visiting Father Thomas J. Marti; LeeAnne Beres of Earth Ministry; the center’s architect Richard Glasman; OLG pastoral assistant Frank Handler; and Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry, who also had spoken during the service. (Earth Ministry’s mission is “inspiring and mobilizing the religious community to play a leadership role in building a just and sustainable future.”)

WHAT NOW? The back of the event program offered advice for “taking action on Laudato Si,” listing simple lifestyle changes such as:

Eating lower on the food chain
Walking or taking the bus more often
Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs
Insulating or installing solar on our homes and parishes
Purchasing used items
Not buying toxic cleaning or lawn products
Generally using fewer resources

P.S. The encyclical, the second by Pope Francis, was written in Italian but can be read in English here.

20 Replies to "Interfaith service at Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates Pope's call to 'care for our common home'"

  • Maggie June 19, 2015 (5:45 am)

    YES to the taking action list! Eating a plant-based diet is number one best action you can take for your health, your wallet, the animals, the environment, and humanity.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident June 19, 2015 (6:59 am)

    All of the changes are pretty reasonable, but because of the suggestion to change to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs), it exposes their lack of knowledge and more concerned about their activism, than learning just what dangers CFLs pose to people and the environment.
    CFLs contain MERCURY and MUST be disposed of in the proper and safe manner.
    If people are about this, change to LED lighting.
    A little more expensive, but in the long run will save money, energy and more importantly, is 100 times safer for the environment than CFLs.

  • miws June 19, 2015 (7:30 am)

    Absolutely love this message of respecting our Earth, and to realize that we are not the only ones that will occupy it. It needs to be returned to as healthy of a state as is possible with 6 billion people occupying it, and kept that way for many future generations.

    .

    Mike

  • formercatholic June 19, 2015 (7:33 am)

    I haven’t been to church in over a decade but went to this with a friend. Truly amazing to see so many people there united in caring for the earth. It was a moving and powerful experience – if this is what the Catholic church is up to these days, I may consider coming back. The priest was down to earth and very welcoming, and the other speakers were fantastic. Great event.

  • G June 19, 2015 (8:48 am)

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of the Pope, but the best way to bring people out of poverty is through prosperity. There are millions in the world who live in abysmal living conditions and they aren’t worried about light bulbs, they are worried about eating.

  • LeeAnne Beres June 19, 2015 (9:11 am)

    Thanks WSB for the great coverage, and thanks to all of our friends and neighbors who participated in this uplifting event celebrating Pope Francis’ strong words about protecting our shared environment.

    Faith communities wanting to get more involved can become Greening Congregations of Earth Ministry (www.earthministry.org) or take the St. Francis Pledge (www.catholicclimatecovenant.org) as steps to integrate the messages of the Pope’s encyclical into their parish life. A good option for study is the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center’s guide “Climate Change: Our Call to Conversion” (www.ipjc.org).

    In addition to putting faith into action in our daily lives, the Pope also calls on us to help shape public policy — especially on climate change. There are plenty of ways to do that here in Washington! We invite anyone interested in faith-based environmental advocacy to be in touch with Earth Ministry.

  • G June 19, 2015 (9:12 am)

    For an alternative, slightly less pessimistic assessment of the world:

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2015/06/18/pope-francis-is-unduly-pessimistic-about-the-world/

  • Enviromaven June 19, 2015 (9:34 am)

    As a fallen (but re-engaged) Protestant, I’m thinking I might have to convert to Catholicism if they keep this up. Amen!

  • KBear June 19, 2015 (9:44 am)

    Agreed! It was a fantastic event. Very uplifting, even though the message is urgent.

  • therehegoesagain June 19, 2015 (9:55 am)

    G. Conservative Catholics which compartmentalize and deny science are a dysfunctional, narcissistic lot who are overwhelmed by their own fear and loathing to learn the truth.

    The dominant paradigm is gonna’ get nudged and then booted in the butt by truth. You have disconnected yourself, as many others have, and all of those you align yourselves with are lost at sea and don’t even know they are adrift. You are tragic. But those of us who understand the connectedness of all things will guide your blind and damaged selves to Truth. Laudato si.

  • Robin Everett June 19, 2015 (9:56 am)

    thank you for covering this important event. However, Jessie Dye’s (Earth Ministry) message was skipped in this. She said here in the NW if we want to work in the spirit of the Encyclical that we must engage politically. That we must put a price on carbon, stand with indigenous leaders against fossil fuel export, invest in a green economy, and assist low-income and communities of color in adaptation to climate change. Very important message!!!!

  • Fauntleroy guy June 19, 2015 (10:08 am)

    What caught my eye was the word “Interfaith” in the heading. The story featured the Priest, a Catholic couple, the Catholic director of a Catholic agency and a closing by a Catholic nun. Where was the “Interfaith”?

  • Richard Hodgin June 19, 2015 (10:16 am)

    I was looking for sacred space yesterday evening to celebrate Pope Francis’ call for cultural revolution in regards to climate chaos. I found that sacred space at Our Lady of Guadalupe and their open-hearted congregation.

    Richard Hodgin

  • G June 19, 2015 (2:10 pm)

    therehegoesagain,

    I advocate bringing poor people up to decent standard living so that they won’t feel it necessary to strip the forests around them for fuel, so that they’re likely to put aside land for conservation, and more likely to adopt other conservation strategies. When the price of oil spiked in the 70’s, continental Indians could no longer afford cheap kerosene oil and began clear cutting the forests around them for fuel. I am not a Catholic, and only nominally Protestant, but I don’t believe in papal infallibility (with all due respect to Catholic’s), scientific infallibility, or my own infallibility for that matter. I find your “Laudato Si” signature rather ironic after spending the entire time denigrating me in very un-Christian like fashion.

  • Emily Amesquita June 19, 2015 (2:36 pm)

    It was a touching service. I attend Our Lady of Guadalupe School and I was the one who carried up the document. I felt quite honored. This wonderful experience made me somehow feel closer to God’s creation and want to care for it even more than I do right now. Even though I’m only in 7th grade, I feel gently pushed into doing wonderful things for the creation that has done so many wonderful things for me. I feel like I am never too small to make a difference.

  • miws June 19, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    Emily, No contribution is too small in helping our Environment.

    .

    I don’t know what your current hopes and plans are for continuing to contribute, but I think you are at just about the perfect age to not only make an impact yourself, but perhaps to Teach, Encourage, and Mentor younger kids in doing so as well.

    .

    Of course school can keep you busy during the school year, as well as other activities throughout the year, but without all of the job and other adult commitments and responsibilities, you likely will have a lot of hours over the next few years to contribute greatly.

    .

    The younger kids will look up to you, and respect you, because in their eyes you are “grown-up”. ;-) And, I’ll bet if you could find some way to make it fun, it’ll grab their attention, and desire to help, even more.

    .

    In any case, best of luck to you on whatever path you take to helping our Environment, and Thank You.

    .

    Mike

  • Chris Bast June 19, 2015 (5:06 pm)

    Yes, what Robin and Jessie said. The most important thing to do on this issue is to engage with elected officials and to be a loud voice for political and policy change. We need to realign our systems away from fossil fuels and toward a just and broadly shared sustainable economic prosperity that’s powered by clean and efficient energy. Changing light bulbs and taking the bus is great – but policy and political engagement is the only way to achieve the systemic change we need.

  • West Seattle Hipster June 19, 2015 (5:45 pm)

    I love that we have a progressive Pope.

  • Helen Oesterle June 19, 2015 (8:31 pm)

    As a person who helped to plan the event, we tried very hard to make it a very inclusive and welcoming event, while also taking place in a Catholic parish. Pope Francis’ document is addressed to all of humanity and the service was designed to help everyone, no matter what their faith (or even no faith as Fr. Jack said). For example, we did invite the Tribal Leaders from the Duwamish Tribe to participate but were unable to do so due to the short notice. However, it was a blessing when we learned that Sr. Pat was a member of the tribe and agreed to lead the Chinook Prayer. And I guarantee you, you will not hear “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night at a Catholic Mass, but it was wonderful to process (and dance) out to that song. Starry Crowns were amazing to lead us in song! And we hope everyone knows they are always welcome at Our Lady of Guadalupe!!!

  • LeeAnne Beres June 20, 2015 (11:39 am)

    Emily, you touched everyone with your poise and grace – your entrance with the encyclical was the most moving part of the service. Thank you for your gift of presence on Thursday night, and for your gift of caring for the earth now and into the future. You are truly making a difference.

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