Students from Catholic secondary colleges in six dioceses took up Pope Francis’ call to treat God’s creation with respect during a Catholic Earthcare summit in Sydney last week.
The Catholic Earthcare Australia Student Sustainability Summit, held at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield, brought together almost 100 student leaders and changemakers from across the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Dioceses of Parramatta, Broken Bay, Maitland-Newcastle, Bathurst and Wollongong, as well as the independent schools community.
The summit – designed, led and delivered by students, for students – aims to model how individual dioceses can run their own event next year and complements the Catholic Earthcare approach of training the next generation of the Catholic faith.
Catholic Earthcare Director Bernard Holland said it was an inspirational day with students hearing from a range of speakers and taking part in workshops to promote a more sustainable way of living in line Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.
“Students have many of the answers and made more than 100 commitments for change and acts of leadership around care of our common home. They are an important voice during this time where we are in a climate emergency,” Mr Holland said.
“Many students spoke powerfully of their passion for the issue, voicing their values and opinions and calling for leadership at a political level for action on climate change.
“Particularly for remote students in regional areas with a high population of climate deniers, and schools where attending the school strike isn’t allowed.”
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. opened the event, which also featured a smoking ceremony led by Indigenous leaders.
“Now the next stage is for students to take up leadership on the issue at a local level, wherever they live or study. Using the ‘Catholic Earthcare Steps to Ecological Dialogue’, students are being encouraged to engage with college leadership and start their own student led environment committees within the mission focus of the college,” Mr Holland said.
Students will be offered the support services of Catholic Earthcare and encouraged to share their progress on social media.
Catholic Earthcare is planning a convocation in Melbourne next September. Details: www.catholicearthcare.org.au.
Catholic Youth Summit a success (Catholic Earthcare)