Organized by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, many faith leaders from Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Unity, Baptist, Evangelical, Presbyterian and Serbian Orthodox churches gathered with Christian faithful, public officials and environmental advocates for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Sisters’ Conventual Chapel at Villa de Matel.
The prayer service focused on the ecological crisis of climate change and its impacts on communities in the form of major catastrophes such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and more. Following the welcome by Sisters of Charity Congregational Leader, Sister Kevina Keating, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza gave the opening prayer and penitential rite.
Using the Gospel of John 17:21, Sr. Ricca Dimalibot, General Councilor of the Sisters of Charity, inspired everyone by emphasizing the importance of Christian unity in the care of creation. “Look around! We are from different faith traditions, political leanings, professions, cultures, but we are united as Christians in our desire to care for the Earth. We have in our time an environmental crisis! But, we also know that in God, the more extreme the crisis, the greater the grace.”
Lutheran Bishop Mike Rinehart of the Gulf Coast Synod, Rev. Harvey Clemons, Jr. of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Rev. Danielle Cox of First Christian Church and thirteen other clergy members from area churches all participated. And, The Rev. Dr. Michael Gemignani, CRC, led the prayers of the people with five representatives from various environmental advocacy organizations. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church’s Choir provided music, songs, and hymns; and were aided by Sisters Angelica Gonzales, CCVI and Symphonie Giao-Huong Ngoc Ngo, CCVI.
Public officials who joined the service included Houston City Councilmembers Robert Gallegos, and Jack Christie; Mayoral Candidate Demetria Smith, and others.
The service was also co-sponsored by Lone Star Legal Aid; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston; Citizens’ Climate Lobby; Dominican Sisters of Houston; Finca Tres Robles; Houston Climate Movement; Lutherans Restoring Creation; Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, Houston; Creation Care Team of Mary Queen Parish; One Breath Partnership; St. Catherine Montessori; Solar United Neighbors of Texas; Texas Impact; Texas Campaign for the Environment; Unity Church; Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and Secular Franciscan Order.
In concluding the purpose of the service, Sr. Ricca said, “this ecumenical prayer service provided a time to give thanks, to repent, to plead for moral courage, and to bear witness to all of Houston of the unity in declaring that climate change is an ethical imperative that requires an urgent response.”
Left: Sisters of Charity Congregational Leader Sister Kevina Keating chats with a prayer service attendee at the outdoor reception at Villa de Matel, following the prayer service. Second: Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza and Lutheran Bishop Mike Rinehart of the Gulf Coast Synod lead the procession of clergy at the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 7, at Villa de Matel. Third: Children bring the gifts during the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 7, at Villa de Matel. Right: St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church’s choir sings “Do Something” at the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation at Villa de Matel.