David Atherton, Wikimedia Commons

It’s a workable solution, says pastor

By  Fr. Sam D'Angelo, Catholic Register Special
  • October 4, 2014

Here’s something useful for your parish — a concise, practical presentation of creation care theology and ministry in 100 pages. It is written from a Roman Catholic perspective, in easy-to-read language for everybody, not just those with theological or pastoral degrees. 

Greening Your Church by Norman Lévesque is aimed at everybody involved in pastoral care, including the pewsitters. Lévesque’s purpose is to “equip dioceses, parishes and religious communities not only to praise our creator, but to really take care of creation.” 

It isn’t just reading and talking. Lévesque gives his readers something to do. Suggested activities are interspersed through the book, often as a conclusion to a particular topic. 

As a pastor, I found the suggestions practical and manageable for parishes of all shapes and sizes, and with varying economic resources available. 

The first part of the book treats the philosophical, scriptural, historical, liturgical and theological underpinnings — the why before the how which motivates creation care ministry in Christian faith traditions today. This is a difficult task given the brevity of the book and the complexity of developments over time in all these areas. 

Some of the scriptural supports for answers to Lévesque’s questions were used in the manner of proof texting, with little attention given to informing the reader about the context, the historical situation of the text or the people to whom it was originally written. This section also uses apocryphal and historical stories attributed to the life of St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of environmentalists) as well as St. Kateri Tekakwitha (patron saint of ecology). 

The theological section of the book concludes by challenging us to identify environmental values stemming from the four cardinal virtues (temperance, prudence, courage, justice) and the three theological virtues (faith, hope, love) as a means of furthering the development of a theology of creation from a Christian perspective. This approach could be a powerful springboard for identifying and developing environmental values today. 

The second half rests on the three pillars of creation care ministry — ecospirituality, environmental awareness and environmental action. Lévesque concludes with a chapter on how to evaluate the greening of a church. His treatment of each pillar includes examples of workshops and retreats from various churches in Canada that have already begun the process of developing a creation care ministry. He describes, in detail, what each faith community did, and encourages us to attempt a similar activity. This is both helpful and insightful. 

(D’Angelo is a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and pastor of St. Andrew’s parish in Sudbury, Ont.) 

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