WASHINGTON, D.C. — Creighton University and the Catholic Climate Covenant are collaborating on the first of three biennial conferences to inspire parish and school leaders to more fully integrate Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment into church life.
“We want to be able to catalyze Laudato Si’ across all of the ministries in the Catholic Church and to do so in a programmatic way and to help institutions to most effectively bring it into their respective ministries as they see fit,” said Jose Aguto, associate director of the Catholic Climate Covenant.
Set for June 27-29 at the Jesuit university in Omaha, Nebraska, the conference will find participants joining one of seven tracks and hearing from experts in the fields of theology, ethics and the sciences to guide development of programs in parishes, schools and religious communities.
The 2015 encyclical, formally titled Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, challenges humanity to understand how integral all life on earth is and that steps must be taken to protect God’s creation by changing personal habits and collaborating as one human family.
While the pope’s offering has been welcomed across the Church, Aguto said the time was right to undertake an effort to help parishes, schools and religious orders implement the various aspects outlined in the encyclical.
Individual speakers will introduce various aspects of the encyclical and action on behalf of the environment. Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego will deliver the keynote address to open the conference the evening of June 27. Sister Patricia Siemen, prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Michigan, will close the conference June 29.
Other speakers include Erin Lothes Biviano, associate professor of theology at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey; Martha Shulski, director of the Nebraska State Climate Office; Franciscan Father Kenneth Himes, professor of theology at Boston College; and Sacoby Wilson, associate professor of applied environmental health at the University of Maryland.
The seven tracks will be led by experts in areas of adult faith formation, advocacy, the development of creation care teams at parishes, schools and religious orders, energy management, liturgy, school education and young adult ministry.
“We’re encouraging participants to develop plans that are viable and implementable and to be able to launch programs that would enable the Catholic Church writ large to enter Laudato Si’ in a respectful way,” Aguto told Catholic News Service.
Altogether, about 250 people are expected for the conference. While 140 to 200 participants are being invited,