May 18, 2020 – In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes that “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork … is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”
The Society of Jesus – including Jesuit communities, works and lay collaborators – has an additional call through the Universal Apostolic Preferences to “collaborate, with Gospel depth, for the protection and renewal of God’s creation.”
To address these dual calls from both the Society and the Universal Church, the Jesuits USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province has established a Commission on Care for Our Common Home. The Commission is engaged in a discernment process about the province’s commitment to ecology. It will make recommendations later this year on ecological solidarity practices that can be undertaken within the province.
The task force will suggest practical ways of praying, discerning, thinking and acting on the ecological dimension of our mission that may include recommendations for:
Spiritual discernment and practices that can lead to ecological conversion, including the integration of ecology into our practice of the Spiritual Exercises in a way that is theologically well-grounded and attentive to Catholic social teaching.
Educational initiatives for ecological awareness that can be undertaken at our province works and with Jesuits and lay collaborators.
Responsible stewardship of land and properties under the care of Jesuits and Jesuit works that is environmentally responsible.
Practical commitments to more ecologically responsible behavior that could be adopted by Jesuit communities, works, and lay collaborators, including exploring ways of reducing carbon footprints.
Action for ecological justice through legislative and corporate advocacy.
Exploration of the particular environmental risks and challenges of locations in the UCS Province, e.g., coastal erosion, tropical weather threats, health risks, and the impact of climate change on the poor and communities of color.
The Commission has established three focus teams:
- Planning and Awareness in Apostolates/Jesuit Communities
- Advocacy and Action
- Spirituality and Eco-Conversion
The members of the Commission include:
- Mary Baudouin, provincial assistant for social ministries for the UCS Province
- Dr. Benjamin DeFoy, professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University
- Elizabeth Jamerlan, Strake Jesuit High School, teacher and moderator of the Ecology Club
- Dr. Dennis Kalob, Jesuit Social Research Institute Fellow at Loyola University New Orleans; CAO of the Carmelite NGO which is particularly active on the issues of climate change sustainable development
- Chris Kellerman, SJ, Jesuit in theology studies at Regis College, Toronto
- John McCarthy, SJ, ecological facilitator, Jesuit Province of Canada
- Philip Nahlik, SJ, Jesuit scholastic, Loyola University Chicago
- Dr. Robert Thomas, professor and Loyola Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communication, Loyola University New Orleans
Cecilia Calvo, the senior advisor on environmental justice for the Jesuit Conference and Jorge Ferrer, SJ, professor of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico, will serve as consultants to the Commission.