Parishes, schools to observe ‘Season of Creation’ Sept. 1-Oct. 4

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mary Ann Tanquary waters some of the plants in the Centennial Garden at St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge on June 6, 2018. This garden is just one of the ongoing efforts around the archdiocese on behalf of parishes, schools and organizations to care for creation. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Parishes and schools across the Archdiocese of Chicago will join with churches around the world in observing the “Season of Creation” from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4.

The season begins with the Fifth Annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Sept. 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview, a joint prayer service followed by a lecture from Greek Orthodox scholar Deacon Perry Hamlis.

It concludes Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, with a noon prayer service at St. James Cathedral Commons, outside the Episcopal cathedral at Rush and Huron streets, in conjunction with the Episcopal Diocese, Ecumenism Metro Chicago, the archdiocese and the Sisters of St. Joseph.

In between, there will be opportunities for advocacy on environmental issues, the Faith and Place Green Team Summit Sept. 14 at the Field Museum and a climate action day on Sept. 20, said Ryan Lents, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity.

The archdiocese also will share posters and prayers with all of its parishes and schools reminding Catholics of the need to focus on care of creation, Lents said.

Pope Francis has been drawing attention to the interfaith, international efforts to promote the Season of Creation for the past couple of years, Lents said, and his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’” was, notably, addressed “to every person living on this planet.”

“The theme for this year is ‘the web of life,’ which explores the interconnectedness of everything,” Lents said. Laudato Si’ also did that, especially drawing the connection between exploitation of the earth and of people living in poverty. “We saw this as a fantastic opportunity to draw attention to it.”

Pope Francis’ efforts to bring attention to the state of the earth is hugely important, said Rachel Hart Winter, director of the Siena Center at Dominican University in River Forest.

Winter has been working on the theology of care for creation for years.

“I wrote my dissertation on care for water and arguing that the Catholic Church should have a more robust response to the ecological crisis,” Winter said. “I finished it in 2014. When ‘Laudato Si’’ came out in 2015, I jumped for joy.”

Science, she said, tells people what the ecological crisis is and how it is harming the earth, as well what steps people can take to stop the damage.

Theology, she said, moves people to actually make those changes.

“Theology helps us change our actions and our habits,” Winter said. “We have to understand our human accountability for what has happened and our right relationship with the earth. You can go back to the biblical story to see how humans saw themselves as connected to nature, and how there was this worldview that humans and nature flourish together. We’re in relationship with God, with our neighbor and with our Earth. … The church is a place that is mobilizing people to think more with our hearts than with our heads.”

By inviting all people of goodwill into the conversation, Pope Francis helped spark an interfaith and ecumenical movement, she said.

“I think that’s one of the most hopeful parts of this,” Winter said. “It’s bringing different faith traditions together. No one scientist and no one faith tradition is going to have the answer. It’s also connected with secular groups who are working to care for the earth. No one owns this problem. We’ve all contributed to it.”

“Laudato Si’” and the ongoing response to it will be the theme of this year’s Albertus Magnus lecture series hosted by the Siena Center, Winter said.

So far, she has been concerned by the slow pace of positive change, but encouraged that change is taking place.

“I have seen progress,” she said. “Some of it is more from an international perspective. Some of the countries are dealing with ecological degradation every day, and they’re more mobilized than maybe we are. … I think the more we educate one another, and the more we’re part of the mobilize movement. I think the change is coming.

For more on the Season of Creation, visit and


  • climate change
  • laudato si

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