Kekeshan Basu sings her song “Dreams” at the launch of Generation Laudato Si’ in Toronto May 16. Photo by Michael Swan

More than a book, it’s a way of life

  • May 26, 2023

A book is not going to save the planet, so editors Simon Appolloni and Rebecca Rathbone teamed up with 38 young writers to produce something more.

Generation Laudato Si’: Catholic Youth on Living Out an Ecological Spirituality was officially launched in Toronto May 16. But copies of the book for sale and speeches from editors and authors were only the beginning of what Generation Laudato Si’ is all about.

The launch included the unveiling of a website that will co-ordinate activities and facilitate conversations across Canada about climate justice and Pope Francis’ groundbreaking 2015 encyclical. Already 100 copies of the book have been ordered by the Diocese of Antigonish for distribution to World Youth Day pilgrims headed to Lisbon, Portugal, at the beginning of August.

“This book is an example, a sterling example, of intergenerational justice,” environmental ethics professor Stephen Scharper told the crowd gathered at the Mary Ward Centre in downtown Toronto for the launch.

The book and the conversations it hopes to inspire will lead to “a deeper, more meaningful connection that is spiritual,” said contributor Angelica Vecchiato.

A frequent contributor to The Catholic Register, Vecchiato was a high school student when she wrote a two-paragraph contribution to Generation Laudato Si’ encouraging deep appreciation of God’s creation as the basis for action on climate change. The young Canadian joined an international roster of writers for whom the future of the Earth and its ecosystems are real and pressing issues simply because they will live lives that stretch beyond the 2050 deadline of the UN-Paris climate agreements.

EdTechforChange founder and St. Michael’s Choir School teacher Sarah Galla spoke of the practical and concrete hope young people have for their future. She founded a group called “Coding for Climate Change.”

“Technology is helping us take care of our common home,” she said in a “postcard from the future” contribution to the book launch.

Kekeshan Basu’s contribution to the evening was a song called “Dreams.” The young human rights activist and winner of the 2016 Children’s Peace Prize has travelled the world as a UN Human Rights Champion. The 22-year-old dreams of a future “where everyone has a life of dignity.”

For New Zealander and climate lawyer Dewy Sacayan, Pope Francis’ vision isn’t impossible, impractical idealism.

“I pray with you that we are working together to shape a climate-just world,” she told the book launch crowd on Zoom from Australia.

As the Generation Laudato Si’ website adds more events and resources, and the young authors lead more conversations in schools, parishes and online, they will have the support of a dozen communities of religious women across Canada along with the Oblate Fathers and Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, which financed the book and programming at

The project is all about how society can move “from saying what to do to doing what we say,” said Appolloni.

With an introduction by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development’s Fr. Joshtram Isaac Kureethadam, the book’s 40 essays are divided into the traditional categories of “See, Judge, Act.” Each chapter ends with a prayer.

“God, please open our eyes to realize and admit that our home has been severely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour, through pollution and climate change,”  prays Malialosa Tapueluelu of Caritas Tonga — an island nation with 80 per cent of its population living along coastlines threatened by rising sea levels. “Fill our hearts with fertile ground to act with urgency so that we hear the cry of those in poverty and the cry of the earth and together care for our common home.”

Generation Laudato Si’ is published by the Canadian Catholic publisher Novalis.

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