70 CAFOD volunteers gathered in Romero House for a creation celebration on 11 May. They came together to celebrate Our Common Home, reflect and act. To show you how easy it is to do and give you some ideas of how you can organise your own celebration, here is an account from Rosie, a CAFOD volunteer in Southwark, of the reason for this celebration and how it went.
“It was an amazing way to come together with people from the Westminster and Southwark dioceses to pray and act on the biggest issue of our time- climate change” said Marine. The situation facing our planet is urgent and serious. We are facing an ecological crisis. If we don’t limit global temperature rise to 1.5C soon, hunger, migration and conflict will be multiplied. The church has a responsibility to respond to this crisis, for our future is at stake.
You can respond to this crisis in your parish by organising a simple Creation Celebration. It is an easy and enjoyable way of bringing your parishioners together to pray, reflect and act on climate change.
Easy steps by steps to organise your creation celebration
We spread the word a celebration was happening.
We decided to have a Creation Celebration as part of our volunteers day held on 11 May in Central London. To promote the event, we put up an ‘our common home’ poster on our noticeboards with the time and date of the Creation Celebration. We also put a message about the event on in our monthly ebulletin and our blogs.
Use the parish promotional poster for your event
We started with a celebratory at Mass
Next, Father Thomas from English Martyrs parish in Walworth lead our laudato si’ inspired mass. CAFOD’s Creation Celebration Organiser’s guide gave us some ideas of what to include. It doesn’t have to be a special mass like ours- you could do this mass for your regular Sunday mass. First, we had a short announcement and then sang two hymns. We used a mobile phone plugged into a Bluetooth speaker to play the music for the opening hymns, and we also had two volunteers play the recorder. Then Father Thomas read out the prayers of intercession.
For the Offertory, the guide mentioned to bring 4 different symbolic items. Someone forgot to bring the seeds and soil! However, this wasn’t a problem because we improvised and used a bowl of porridge oats that we had in the office kitchen, which still represented the gift and abundance of creation. We used a plastic balloon to represent the earth, our common home and we brought in a plant cared for by a group of volunteers from our balcony. For the photographs of our community tackling climate change, we used photos from the CAFOD website. Of course, if your parish wants to use different objects to represent how your community celebrates creation then that’s great! We then sang some hymns to close the mass.
Read the Organiser’s guide to get inspired for the mass
Jeannette engaged us with a Talk
At the end of Mass, Jeanette Milborn, a parish volunteer coordinator and campaigner from Cambridge, gave a short talk to encourage the congregation to sign the petition to the Prime Minister.
She added her personal twist to the talk as she’d traveled to the climate change conference in Poland in December 2018 with a group of CAFOD staff and volunteers. While she was there, she met Joe, who belongs to a group of young Pacific Islanders called Climate Warriors. She felt so inspired by Joe who explained that in his culture a warrior is regarded as a protector. He added that his group are fighting to protect their homes from the effects of climate change.
Find a short talk to inspire you in the Organiser’s guide.
We shared a lunch and discussion
The following step of our beautiful Creation Celebration was a shared lunch! We all brought some food and we shared it together. We sat down on chairs in small groups, with our lunch on our laps. There were 70 of us, so we got into 11 small groups of 6. If you can’t organise a shared lunch like this in your Parish, you could always do this part at the coffee morning after the mass, or on a different day during the week.
Once we were in small groups, the room all said Grace together, using the Our Common Home Grace Dice. We then split off into our groups to eat and chat. We printed out questions to guide our conversation from the CAFOD guide and gave the set of questions to each group. We thought, among other questions, about where we have seen God’s love in creation, how to world is beginning to look more like “an immense pile of filth”, and how our daily consumption choices impact on our planet…
We acted and signed a petition
At the end of the Lunch , we passed round the CAFOD petition. This is a great way for your Parish to take action against climate change. CAFOD is calling on the UK to commit to reaching ‘net zero’ emissions by 2045 at the latest, this means only putting the same amount of emissions into the atmosphere as we take out. Many countries in the world have already made this commitment but the UK has yet to join them.
You can sign the petition online now.
Jane Crone (CPC in East Anglia) said, ‘the Creation Celebration inspired many volunteers to go back to their parishes and organise their own celebrations.’ One such volunteer was Gill Slater, who has returned to her Parish excited to host her own Creation Celebration.
To join Gill’s Parish in fighting this ecological crisis by hosting your own Creation Celebration, have a look on our website for more tips, ideas and free resources to help you.
As Pope Francis writes, “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” And yet the earth, our sister, “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.”