Catholics reflect on Season of Creation

Above: A sign is posted on the fence at the Franciscan Community Garden at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, where Pat Kelly is a parishioner.

For many in the Diocese of Raleigh, the Season of Creation is as meaningful and important as the traditional seasons. Globally, the SOC brings people of all faiths together in prayer and action, said Monica Kleimeyer.

“It’s for Earth, our common home,” she said.

Each year the SOC spans five weeks between the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Sept. 1) and the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4), who is the patron saint of ecology.

For Season of Creation 2022, Kleimeyer, Pat Kelly and Bob Weickert each shared a reflection with NC Catholics magazine about why the event resonates with them.

What abundant gifts!

By Monica Kleimeyer

Monica Kleimeyer

Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on the many gifts of God’s creation, also known as God’s Earth? Take water, for instance. About 71% of our Earth is covered in water. Similarly, the human brain and heart are composed of about 73% water. Water is abundantly mentioned in the New Testament over 80 times!

My uncle, John Pennekamp, worked a lot with water. He worked in the conservation of coral reefs in Florida. In 1963 a coral reef park in Key Largo was established and named after him for his conservation efforts in the state.

Today, that same coral reef system is critically endangered and one step from extinction. When I looked to know why, the answers I found helped me understand why God’s creation is hurting. These reasons called me to care deeply for all God’s creation. It is ‘The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor’, as Pope Francis describes in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ – Care for Our Common Home.

After learning about why the Pennekamp coral reef is dying, I could no longer do nothing, I had to do something. Joining the Creation Care Team at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral brought me gifts of becoming a Laudato Si’ animator and starting a Laudato Si’ Circle that prays for, reflects on and acts for our common home.

Our SOC parish activities include an educational outreach of literature and a fun activity of taking and making prayer/inspirational stones using creation care themes. Recognizing that we are standing on the holy ground of God’s Creation in our community, we participate in the Adopt-A-Stream program to keep local water cleaner and healthier.

I serve with Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle (ICCT), an organization with members from over 70 congregations that work in caring for God’s Creation. I’ve helped plan an outdoor ecumenical prayer service for the Earth and her people, as we stand on ‘Holy Ground’ in a beautiful garden.

Reflective Journey

By Pat Kelly

Pat Kelly

Our parish family provides us with abundant gifts. Recently, my husband and I took part in a reflective journey of the St. Francis of Assisi parish grounds in Raleigh.

Called "Through the Windows of St. Francis”, we reflected on three themes: A Home for All, Awareness and Awe and Restoration and Action. As we sat gazing at the thicket of trees, some as tall as 40 feet, we took in the nimbus clouds heavy with rain roiling overhead, and felt the breath of God cooling our hot, damp arms. We felt a reverence for the gift of God’s Creation and each other.

We reflected on when we first felt the sacred in Creation. Most of us recalled our youth and focused on multi-sensory experiences. One person recalled how a cow looked her in the eye and then licked her face! My husband remembered being encouraged by a neighbor to plant radishes along his driveway (back in the days of leaded gasoline!) He marveled daily at the miracle of growth.

I remembered the year my dad planted string beans in our back yard and getting to eat the best string beans I've ever tasted. Why do we go back to our childhood to retrieve these forgotten memories of the Earth? Was this what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to be like children?

For me, the Season of Creation is a time to reflect on God's gift of Creation. How have we treated it? Many years ago, St. Bonaventure said that God is revealed to mankind through two books. The first is the book of Creation. The second is the book of the Bible. The stress of raising a family, earning a living, dealing with health issues, and so many other earthly challenges make it hard to take time for ourselves and God’s Creation. But this abundant gift is there if we take time to pay attention. And, who knows? Perhaps we’ll see and hear the Gospel in a new way if we listen to the voice of Creation!

Work to do

By Bob Weickert

Bob Weickert

I grew up in a frugal family. It was natural to us to protect, re-use and stretch the life of things. We always re-used clothes and other things, composted for the garden and so on. I became aware of Biblical passages and the life and prayers of St. Francis of Assisi.  There are beautiful writings and prayers that lift naturally good behavior to a very different level. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ is not just an environmental encyclical but a really comprehensive theology connecting people and Earth.  We can see ourselves as part of Creation with responsibilities for taking care of all its dimensions.

Working and praying with parishioners and others is very helpful. Maybe Noah could stay motivated and build the ark by himself, but having others engaged in the work really helped keep up the morale. 

At my parish, St. Thomas More in Chapel Hill, we recently had a breakfast to meet other parishioners and share ideas about what we might discern as “the greater good” among the many good things we all need to be doing. 

On Oct. 7 we will dedicate to St. Clare of Assisi and bless our second solar array. We hope these events inspire more members, maybe especially the school children, to find ways to engage individually and as a community in Creation Care.

We all are seeing the impacts of climate change on the environment and the poor. It’s not a time for great optimism, that we can fix this ourselves.  But it can be a time of great hope, that we can work as though everything depends on us and pray as though everything depends on God. We face a very difficult future and mankind is not even united in the knowledge that there is a grave problem let alone on putting forth major efforts to address it. Yet all things are possible with God.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of praying to do. Let’s do that together in abundance!

Below: At Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, where Monica Kleimeyer is a parishioner, the faithful decorate stones with creation care themes.