Looking out from the Center for Environmental Studies patio, Isabel Rodriguez-Vega, Sustainability Programs Manager at O’Dowd, pauses with a group of students before entering the Living Lab. “Take a deep breath and as you release it,” Isabel instructs, “shift your mind to the creation surrounding you.” As students enter the gardens, they keep some distance from each other, connecting their hearts, minds, and selves with the natural world. Each student considers their own responsibility and purpose during this year’s Season of Creation, a time when the global Christian community celebrates the restoration and hope for all creation.
Each year from September 1 to October 4, faith communities worldwide unite in prayer, advocacy, and action to protect our common home. This care for the earth is emphasized by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si and echoed by the California Bishops in their 2019 Pastoral Letter, God Calls Us All to Care for Our Common Home.
Michael Downs, our Director of Justice and Kinship at O’Dowd, has been asked to represent O’Dowd on the Laudato Si’ Action Platform planning committee, a global initiative to place Catholic institutions large and small on seven-year paths to sustainability. ”Our school is an example and inspiration to organizations around the world,” shares Michael Downs. “O’Dowd has long been recognized for our commitment to kinship with creation.“
This year, the theme for the season is A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God. Oikos, a Greek word meaning “home”, is fitting for this year’s theme. After a year of solitude and distance, our school community has rejoined with a renewed sense of belonging and a new perspective of the world. Two of O’Dowd’s student leader groups, Eco Leaders and Solidarity-In-Action, began the year using this new perspective and this year’s theme to find new ways to continue our school’s commitment to our Charism call to kinship with creation.
“Our student leaders have a deep, grateful connection to the natural world,” Downs explains. “They share a profound sense of the intersectionality of social and environmental justice issues, and a passionate sense of urgency as they see how climate disruption affects their present and future.”
Through collaboration and commitment, O’Dowd’s community of educators and students are rising to Pope Francis’ inspiring challenge for this year’s Season of Creation. Together with O’Dowd’s Creation Care Team, student leaders will facilitate experiences of prayer, reflection, action, and advocacy on behalf of our ‘Common Home’ with the following events:
Sept. 9. Mass of the Holy Spirit, Living Lab After School Service Afternoon
Sept. 11. First Living Lab Saturday Service Day, Carlos Bee Park Litter Pick Up and Beautification
Sept. 16 First Green Dragons Flex Period
Sept. 18 California Coastal Cleanup Day
Sept. 23 Community Action w/ SIA/Eco: Enviro Justice
Sept. 24 Global Climate Strike
Oct. 4 Feast of St. Francis, Laudato Si Action Platform launch, First day of Health & Wellness Week
Oct. 17-18 Inter-faith Climate Prayer and Action