Whether it’s climate change or the depletion of wildlife, news is coming in thick and fast of the dangers to life on Earth.
In 2015 Pope Francis issued his groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. It calls us to take practical action for creation, the poor and future generations.
Laudato Si’ not only helps us safeguard Creation, it can also stimulate renewal in the parish. That’s why Caritas Diocese of Nottingham has launched Pioneer Parishes, a scheme to support Catholic communities on every aspect of their journey to 2030.
As a Pioneer Parish you will not only be helping to reduce the Church’s environmental footprint. You’ll be making a statement of faith in the future of the Church, and a commitment to its younger members!
Any parish in the Diocese of Nottingham can be a Pioneer Parish. A Pioneer Parish is one which is seeking ways to:
Evangelise its people as disciples who care for God’s creation
Decarbonise through a journey to ‘net zero’ emissions- if possible by 2030
Rewild its premises to make space for nature
… and is taking action on other priorities of its choice, whether environmental (for instance on waste or advocacy) or in wider parish renewal or outreach.
As a Pioneer Parish you’ll get support from Caritas and from a growing number of other Pioneer Parishes around the diocese.
Meet up with a few others from your parish to consider becoming a Pioneer Parish as outlined here. Seek your parish priest’s agreement to the decision. Ask the Parish Pastoral Council to support the project and to nominate a member to be your point of contact. Agree with them on your parish’s fourth priority area. Contact Paul Bodenham at email@example.com. He will introduce you to other Pioneer Parishes in the diocese who will help you.
Here’s some helpful advice for getting people on board. Ask your priest if a member of the team can speak at Mass, and include news in the bulletin. You can have extra impact by making use of a calendar date such as the Season of Creation or harvest festival (September or October) or a Climate Sunday which can take place any time of the year. It’s also good to give people the chance to respond, for instance with a Laudato Si Pledge or Parish Challenge. While you’re planning that you can get on with the following steps.
Identify the key people responsible for different ‘departments’ of parish life• Liturgy and sacraments• Adult Formation• Young people• Site management• Waste management• Purchasing• Diet and Hospitality• Community outreach• Liaison with the local school• Any development plansOf course, they’re likely to be busy people. One way to get them involved might be to speak to them individually first in case they have concerns about the commitment involved. Once you’ve won them round, bring them all together for the next step. Keep the Parish Council informed of progress.
‘Ask your key people to review the activities they are responsible for against the four Pioneer Parish themes outlined below.
For each, ask:• ‘What are we already doing to help?’• ‘What first steps can we take in the coming year’• ‘What more will we need to do?’• ‘How can we encourage parishioners and the widercommunity to play their part?’
Follow the links below for support and inspiration. In planning for the long-term (‘What more will we need to do’) you won’t have it all planned out before you get started – just step out in faith, and Caritas and the wider diocese will travel with you.
Evangelise: to help everyone, young and old, to discover Christ in Creation, cherish God’s world, and grow as disciples• Mark the Season of Creation (each September)• Let Creation join your worship
to reduce emissions from parish buildings, activities and transport, aiming for net-zero by 2030• Measure your carbon footprint• Reduce your energy use• Reduce your ‘Mass miles’
to restore nature on parish premises, and through our activities and procurement• Bring your grounds to life (for instance with a Parish Allotment or Wildlife Garden)
For your fourth Pioneer Parish action you can pursue a wider project for parish renewal or outreach, or one of the following environmental themes:• Resources: using water, raw materials and other natural resources as efficiently as possible, and minimising waste through repair, re-use and recycling• Ethics: ensuring that in protecting the Earth, our common home, we also uphold justice, peace and human rights• Conformity: bringing into alignment other activities and practices in the parish• Resilience: building stronger parishes and neighbourhoods prepared for environmental risks and losses and a changing climate• Advocacy: advocating action in society at large for a just transition to a sustainable economy, and in solidarity with those at greatest risk worldwide.
You’ll find a wealth of ideas on the Laudato Si’ Action Platform searchable database, Living Laudato Si, Season of Creation, Journey to 2030 and other resources listed on the Nottingham diocesan website.
You can download this spreadsheet to help you keep track of what’s happening and record plans for action. If your parish has more than one church you could create additional tabs for each site. Create a noticeboard setting out your:• Short- and long-term plans for each of your four Pioneer parish themes • action currently being taken by each group or department in the Parish.
Bring key people together again to agree what to do over the next few years, with the aim of reaching net-zero carbon around 2030. Seek the agreement of your parish priest and pastoral council. It may help to set up an ongoing steering group for the purpose.
CAFOD’s Livesimply Award recognises parishes which are seeking to ‘live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor’. Use some key points from your Action Plan to sign up to the scheme, so that when you accomplish them you’ll get the credit you deserve. There are other award schemes you could go for as well.
Join the pioneers. Above all, enjoy the journey. If at any point you would like help or advice, please feel free to contact Paul Bodenham: paul.bodenham@dioceseofnottingham