Congregation publicly commits to seven-year sustainability journey by joining the Laudato si’ action platform.


“1.5 is alive…but its pulse is weak,” declared Alok Sharma, the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 President and UK cabinet minister during his concluding remarks in Glasgow, Scotland on November 13th. He is, of course, referring to the landmark Paris Agreement that was adopted by nearly every nation in 2015 to address climate change by limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 ℃ by 2030.

What political power alone can’t accomplish, perhaps the faith community can step in. In fact, the Catholic Church is exceptionally well-positioned to respond to the climate crisis. Not only do we have centuries of Catholic social teachings that emphasize the Gospel message to care for creation as essential to a life of virtue, but we also have the resources. According to 2020 US CARA statistics, in the U.S. alone there are:

  • 67,696,608 million Catholics, or 20.4% of the population
  • 196 dioceses
  • 17,007 parishes
  • 35,651 Priests
  • 45,253 Religious Sisters and Brothers

Catholics have sponsorship and governance of thousands of advocacy ministries and thousands of ministry facilities (churches, schools, hospitals, etc.) situated across millions of acres of land. Globally, there are about 221,700 Catholic parishes. In addition, religious groups are the 3rd largest investors and half of the educational institutions are run by faith groups.

What impact could we inspire if all people of faith take the challenge of climate change more seriously? What if we leveraged our numbers and influence in politics, finance, agriculture, social services, etc.? Our efforts are still wanting in sufficiently capitalizing on this potential.

Working together and addressing all sectors of society to care for our environment is bound to reach the critical mass needed for radical transformation. According to Social Scientists, it only takes 3.5% of the population to reach the tipping point. When 21% to 25% of the population embraces the change, then we will have the critical mass necessary for systemic change.

Prompted by the urgency of mitigating global environmental devastation, Pope Francis tasked the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development to spearhead an ambitious initiative, Laudato Si’ Action Platform (LSAP), an action-oriented 7-year ecological conversion journey in the spirit of integral ecology intended to support and empower families, communities, and institutions to achieve total sustainability.

In support of LSAP, Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson (Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development) remarked, “The platform hopes to create a peoples’ movement from below to contribute to the critical mass needed for radical societal transformation. As Pope Francis reminds us, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” (Laudato Si’, 14)

Pope Francis identifies our current ecological crisis as a “summons to profound interior conversion.” What everyone needs, he writes, is an “’ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them…[I]t is essential to a life of virtue; it not optional…” (LS 217)

Integral Ecology is “a concept derived from the observation of the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world. This interdependence touches every aspect of human life, from the political and economic to the cultural, social and theological. Values and decisions based on these different aspects, therefore, have direct consequences on how humans live with each other and share the planet’s resources.”

According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, Sustainable Development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

On the occasion of the 5th World Day of Prayer for the Poor on November 14, 2021, our congregation enrolled to participate in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

The Council approved the Commitment Statement submitted by the Creation Care Committee comprised of: Sisters Pamela Kanja Thiaine (chair), Maureen Costello, Ricca Dimalibot, Cecilia Lich Thanh Tran, Margaret Bulmer, Maurine Chemnung Pangale, Vilma Aracely Ramos Gutierrez and Monica Hatcher (Director of Social Concerns). The CCVI boldly declares our LSAP Commitment Statement:

We, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, TX, hear with heartrending clarity the cry of the earth in the unfolding environmental crisis of humankind’s making. Our charism to manifest the presence of Jesus Incarnate in our world compels us to respond to the Holy Father Pope Francis’ call to ecological conversion whereby our tender and personal love for Jesus more deeply transforms our interconnected relationship with all of creation. It is the Holy Spirit that nurtures within us a loving awareness of this sacred interdependence that leads to more purposeful and sacrificial action to tread more gently on this Earth where the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

In our Congregation’s traditional spirit of charity, dependence, simplicity of life, hospitality and joyful service to the poor and suffering, we commit ourselves to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and join with our brothers and sisters throughout the world on its seven-year journey toward integral ecology and total sustainability. We commit to deepen our conversion, educate ourselves and others on the current environmental crisis and take concrete actions individually and communally to care for the Earth.

Our congregation has been advocating for caring for the environment for decades as an expression of our dedication to our Religious Vows. During our 2018 Chapter, we reaffirmed our commitment by taking a Corporate Stand on the Care of God’s Creation. The task of the congregation now is to create a seven-year plan that parallels the seven Laudato Si’ Goals to achieve integral ecology and sustainability. We hope to share these endeavours with you as we continue to expound our commitment to LSAP on the following months.

Participation in the global movement, Laudato Si’ Action Platform, is yet another step in our growing recognition of our reciprocal and loving relationship with all of God’s gifts to us. We want to strengthen our shared responsibility by building a community of partnerships and global encounters with Jesus at the center, our one true home.

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