The month-long Season of Creation puts its focus on caring for the planet. Photo by Michael Swan

Season of Creation demands action

  • September 7, 2019

Seventy-six-year-old great grandmother Patricia Timson is appalled at the low level of Catholic participation in this month’s Season of Creation — a liturgical observance beginning with the World Day of Prayer for Creation on Sept. 1, endorsed and promoted by Pope Francis since 2015.

“This is the disappointing thing. I have seen more action taken by the United Church here in Caledonia (Ont.) regarding the environment than I have at my own parish. The United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada are far ahead of the Catholic Church, by leaps and bounds,” Timson said. “It’s disgraceful, really. That’s what it is. 

“We have a pope who has done nothing but preach justice and care of creation from the very beginning, and we’re not paying attention.”

Timson’s parish of St. Patrick’s is in fact doing more than most Catholic churches to acknowledge the month-long observance — in part, thanks to Timson’s activism. The parish distributes weekly inserts in its parish bulletin with environmental reflections and tips. On Sept. 21, St. Pat’s will host a 10 a.m. to noon workshop on “Care of Creation.”

Timson believes Catholic churches everywhere need to do more for the sake of future generations.

“My biggest thrust is, are my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren going to have the same level of air, water and soil?” she said. “They’re going to need it to live. What will their quality of life be without sustainable air, water and soil?”

On a national level, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is using the Season of Creation to launch its fall campaign, “For Our Common Home: A Future for the Amazon, A Future For All.” 

The campaign gets rolling with a Tuesday, Sept. 10 webinar beginning at 1 p.m. EST, featuring presentations by Regina Archbishop Don Bolen, special guest Mauricio Lopez, executive secretary of Latin American bishops’ network for the Amazon, and Josianne Gauthier, secretary general of CIDSE, the international organization of Caritas donor agencies.

The Season of Creation traces its history back to 1989, when the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople proposed Sept. 1 as a global, ecumenical day of prayer for creation. Among Catholics, Anglicans and others the day began to expand into a month, ending on the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. Official Catholic endorsement of the season began with a letter from the bishops of the Philippines in 2003.

Today in Canada much of the celebration remains ecumenical. The Green Churches Network has issued a Season of Creation calendar with reflections, prayer suggestions, Scripture passages and practical environmental tips at 

The Green Churches Network is using the month to promote its Green Churches Forum on Oct. 19-20 at Our Lady of the Cape Shrine in Trois-Rivières, Que. The two-day event will present workshops and prayer celebrating “The Gift of Water.”

The University of Waterloo Taizé Prayer group is hosting sung prayers in Waterloo Town Square on Friday, Sept. 27, 10-11 a.m. in support of Global Climate Strike –Waterloo Region. The prayers will be a prelude to an afternoon of student-led protest against political inaction on climate change.

Perhaps the most ambitious ecumenical project for this Season of Creation originates with the Vancouver-based social enterprise Plastic Bank. The secular organization is following up on its participation in a 2018 meeting at the Vatican with Cardinal Peter Turkson by launching an interfaith department.

“Our vision is to stop plastics flowing into the ocean. Also, using this plastic to empower people to make their living through collecting this plastic. In that way we are much aligned to Laudato Si’, where the cry of the poor and the cry of creation has been emphasized by the Holy Father,” said Peter Nitschke, Plastic Bank interfaith expert. 

The Plastic Bank launched what it calls an “Interfaith Revolution” with a webinar on Sept. 5 led by Salesian Pontifical University professor of philosophy of science Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam. This hour-long Internet event was just the beginning of a month-long roll-out of social media messaging, suggested homilies, a youth ministry kit and parish resources.

It wasn’t hard to find material in Scripture and Christian tradition that speaks about caring for creation. 

“When we talk about sin, we talk about the fracture between God and humanity that also affects our relationship with creation,” Nitschke said. “People being just indifferent — it’s the sin of indifference about this environment. There needs to be a change of mind, and that’s what repentance basically means — that we change our minds and follow God’s command to care for creation.”

Even though the Season of Creation has Orthodox roots, getting people to make the connection between the environment and their faith is a problem in the Orthodox Church as well, said Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College professor Daniel Opperwall. The Orthodox emphasis on personal transformation is a good starting point for a spirituality of creation care, he said.

“In many ways, one of the really great things is that the Orthodox Church can remind Christians more generally not to forget, we have to be changed within ourselves. We have to become more virtuous and more holy people if we’re going to have any impact whatsoever on something like global climate change,” said the Toronto School of Theology teacher. 

Comments (1)

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Dear Michael Swan;
Thank you for this article on the ecumenical “Season of Creation” and the concern of the Canadian grandmother at the absence of Catholic participation at her local level; her parish relative to other ecumenical communities....

Dear Michael Swan;
Thank you for this article on the ecumenical “Season of Creation” and the concern of the Canadian grandmother at the absence of Catholic participation at her local level; her parish relative to other ecumenical communities. Her concerns are to be added to those of the young Scandinavian, Greta Thunberg, who just landed on our shores to warn us of the global risks of climate change, based on indisputable science.
Yes, Development and Peace will deliver nationally to the parishes their annual campaign on care of creation, focused on the Amazon. That is not the immediate focus of “Season of Creation” with its emphasis on prayers at the forefront of local spiritual and secular events on sustainable living especially in their home communities.
I live In Kingston, now one of 40 Canadian cities that have climate change emergency measures. Here their sustainable community goals fit in closely with the recommendations of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si. Indeed, what the city measures do not include are prayers of praise for the very gifts of creation being sustained, by their municipal workers for our and their own daily sustainability, e.g. clean water, healthy sustaining parklands, clean air etc. Our human sustainability is dependent on that sustainable nature, itself dependent on our efforts to also sustain it. Holy Spirit hear and guide us!
The opportunity exists for Christians, including Catholics, in those 40 cities, and other communities, to add their prayer for their gifts of nature that are maintained for us, and by us, without which our health and safety becomes quickly compromised, as is the case in too many areas of our common home, including some here in Canada.
Peter Tetro

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Peter Tetro
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