BELLINGHAM – Colorful symbols of creation, special prayers and education about caring for the earth were highlights of Earth Day weekend at Church of the Assumption Parish.
“Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, provided a passionate teaching on the environment in ‘Laudato Si,’” Deacon Larry Kheriaty said in his homily during April 21–22 Masses at the Bellingham parish. “Personally, as a grandfather, I appreciate the Catholic teaching that the earth is [intended] for all generations; that we have a responsibility to leave it in good order,” Deacon Kheriaty added.
Signs displayed at the front of the church featured images of the Earth, including a poster of fire and wind designed by Alyssa Lankford, an Assumption School eighth-grader. “If everyone in the world, if they at least picked up one piece of trash, and placed it in the right garbage can, the Earth will be a better place to live in,” Alyssa said.
The prayers of the faithful included thanks for Pope Francis and asked that “he and all faith leaders be graced with the courage to continue to offer moral leadership on care for God’s creation.” During the offertory procession, members of the Whatcom County Pax Christi group carried plants, a globe and even a live worm farm — on loan from Assumption’s kindergarten class.
The kindergarten class at Church of the Assumption School furnished plants, a globe, a worm farm and a few loved stuffed toys for the offertory procession during their school Mass that focused on Earth Day. Photo: Courtesy Linda Conroy
At Assumption Parish, care for the environment will continue after Earth Day. The parish community will begin using compostable paper plates, cups and utensils for events, said Father Scott Connolly, Assumption’s pastor. He encouraged parishioners to read a handout in the pews that offers ways to reduce use of plastic items. “We are called to be good stewards of this planet we live on,” Father Connolly said.
After Masses, Pax Christi representatives handed out materials with suggestions related to care of the environment: taking shorter showers, signing up for free home energy audits through local power companies, purchasing electric or hybrid cars, or riding public transit. The materials included postcards to be sent to senators to support environmentally cleaner futures for today’s children, said Linda Conroy, a Pax Christi member and Assumption parishioner who helped plan the Earth Day events.
Catholic organizations — including Catholic Climate Covenant and Global Catholic Climate Movement — are working to raise consciousness about the importance of caring for the planet and concerns over climate change, Conroy said.
“My hope is next year every parish will be celebrating Earth Day,” she added.
Join Pax Christi
The Whatcom County Pax Christi group meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the library of Assumption School. The meetings feature discussions on the themes of peace and justice. All are welcome to attend.