By Elena Dini
ROME — A student initiative at The Lay Centre has the institution and all of its residents asking about how they can become more environmentally friendly, in line with the teachings of Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si.’”
Sept.1 was the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Instituted in 2015, the day is celebrated in union with the Orthodox churches and Christians of other churches and communities.
This year’s message focused on water, a theme Pope Francis addresses often. It offered concrete points for reflection, for example, about the unacceptable “privatization of the natural good of water, at the expense of the human right to have access to this good” or the worrying situation of our seas and oceans “littered by endless fields of floating plastic.”
The Lay Centre has worked to implement green policies and practices, starting with basic daily acts. Last year, student resident Filipe Domingues was responsible for the “Laudato Si’” project. He analyzed what could be improved at The Lay Centre to make activities more environmentally friendly.
“The Lay Centre is an institution that is already very much adapted to what is required by law, but there are some daily life practices that depend on a real change in mindset and in everyday life. Everywhere, there is the need to create a new culture, keeping in mind the ‘care for our common home,’” he said.
For instance, residents were encouraged to maintain a variety of kitchen appliances, such as coffee machines, kettles and fridges.
While these appliances may not appear to have much to do with the care of creation, Domingues said, “the more we take care of these things, keeping them clean and in good shape, the more they will last and we save the environment from more trash. All in all, the idea was to fight a ‘throw-away culture’ in our daily lives, at every level.”
Among the many initiatives held this year to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Vatican News reported on a Mass for Creation in the Philippines, celebrated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle; an Anglican Eucharistic service by a polluted stream in Switzerland; and a prayer run by some religious women close to a radioactive area in the United States.
In Assisi, a two-day event with ecumenical prayer for the care of creation opened a series of initiatives under the theme, “Season of Creation,” (https://seasonofcreation.org/) which will run until Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.