Care for Creation

 “And God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was good.” (Gen. 3:17-19; 4:12)

But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.”  Job 12: 7-10 

Pope Francis wrote in his 2015 teaching document called Laudato si’ that our earth is like our sister, “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse … . the earth herself. . .  . . is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; . . . We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”

As Christians we need to be more than stewards and domineers, we need to be kin to all the creatures like St Francis was.

St. Francis Care of Creation Ministry

To answer Pope Francis’ call, the Care for Creation Ministry meets regularly to facilitate individual parishioners and the parish as a whole in living more in harmony with creation. We work with the interfaith community on local issues and on speaking in a unified voice calling for political leadership on this urgent issue.

— If you are interested in additional helpful hints, information on local eco-friendly resources, notifications of local activities (occasional time sensitive ones) and more, please email us at stfccreation@gmail.com to receive emails about once a month.

— If you would like to become a part of this ministry group or if you have questions, contact the ministry leader at stfccreation@gmail.com.

We are also a member of Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle, an interfaith effort to care for creation and address climate change.

Celebrate the Season of Creation

Every year, from September 1, the World Day of Prayer for Creation, to October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, churches all over the world are celebrating the Season of Creation. This is a wonderful time for us to pray, learn, reflect, and act in our call to be caretakers of God’s creation.

Celebrate the Season of Creation with Us in 2022!  

This year’s Season of Creation theme is “Listen to the Voice of Creation.” There is a long-standing view within the Judeo-Christian tradition that God speaks to us through creation, that creatures speak to us of the Creator’s goodness, truth, and beauty. With this theme, we are invited to ask ourselves: To what are we listening? Where does God speak to us in creation? Can we stop and listen deeply to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth? What is distracting us? 

  • Gather for a family movie night to view the film Kiss the Ground available via Netflix or check bit.ly/vwkgrd. We then invite you to a virtual discussion on Wednesday, September 7 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The link is:  umsystem.zoom.us/j/5452370000?pwd=UUx6OG9wOWJiMEhjaTkrYWYwRW5oQT09 
  • Read the book Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation and mark your calendar for an in-person book discussion on September 27th in Founder’s Room. You can find this book at your local library or purchase at your favorite book store/outlet. There is a lot of information in this book, so please start early! Read and mark the areas that interest you most to be ready for discussion on the book. Check here for more information; bit.ly/phregbk 
  • Join us for Reflective Tour of the St. Francis Church Grounds – “Through the Windows of St. Francis” : meet Sunday, September 11 from 4:15-5:15 pm in front of St. Mary of the Angels Chapel. Then join parishioner Michelle Kaiser for a short three-stop walking tour of our campus. Each will use a different spiritual tradition to guide us to a prayerful connection with creation.
  • FrancisFest – October 2nd: Stop by the Creation Care area at the Community Garden (by the Log House) for an exciting and hands-on learning opportunity about vermiculture, community-supported agriculture, community gardens, composting, and more.

    Our Care of Creation Ministry has put together a suberb resource for you and your families to enter more deeply this Season of Creation. This resource is a daily reflection guide, each week focused on a particular theme and each day a new activity, learning prompt, and invitation to grow in faith. 

    Daily Reflection Guide for the Season of Creation (created in 2020)

    (Click link above)

    Also, you can find more resources from the Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization partnered with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and from the ecumenical effort to provide resources and world-wide coordination during the Season of Creation.  

    52 Things To Change Our Planet

    52 Easy Things and 52 Hard Things to Change our Planet!

    Here are a list of actions, both LARGE and small, to love our earthly home more gently

    *Borrowed heavily with permission from the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, NC

    Easy Things

    Hard Things
    January
    Request and energy audit from your electric utility

    Install a programmable thermostat.

     

    Avoid products with a lot of packaging.

    Switch to LED lights and turn off when not in use.

     

    Set your thermostat at 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer

    Update to Energy Star appliances.

     

    Wash clothes in cold water and only do full loads. Winterize your home—increase attic insulation, etc.
    February
    Run your washer and dishwasher only with full loads.

    Insulate your hot water heater.

     

    Turn off the water while brushing your teeth Maintain window and door seals to limit drafts.

    Take short showers instead of baths.

     

    Install low flow shower heads.

     

    Plan your meals; buy exactly what you need. Fix any leaky or dripping faucets.
    March
    Stop using black garbage bags. Black plastic does not recycle.

    Mulch plants and trees.

     

    Remove weeds by hand, not chemicals. Plant drought resistant and native plants.
    Use organic fertilizers. Learn to grow patio veggies in a pot or build a raised bed.
    Mulch your garden with shredded leaves and avoid tilling your garden. Compost your organic waste and use it in your garden.
    April
    Dishwashers are programed to replace water (still using less than rinsing) if there is debris.  Liquid DW soap applied to baked on food will get pans clean. Shop at a farmer’s market and buy locally grown food in season.
    Eat leftovers; establish a “week-in-review” meal. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
    Leave skins on (potatoes, carrots & cucumbers, etc.) . . . more nutrients for you!

    Use as clothes line.

     

    Buy “ugly” food (food with personality—slightly blemished, crooked, etc.) Build/buy a compost bin and feed it.
    May
    If you see worms on the sidewalk, you have over watered your lawn. Most need only 1” a week.

    Find a compost pick – up service.

     

    Volunteer at the St. Francis community garden.

     

    VermiCompost (the worms love it and so does the earth).

    Mulch plants and trees.

     

    Be grateful for the nourishment you need and do not burden the earth by over-consuming.
    Build a nest block for Mason Bees. Study the political, social, and economic causes of environmental destruction.
    June
    Close your curtains during high heat and cold times. Install solar panels
    Make your lawn smaller and your plantings bigger. Support the Clean Air Act.
    Build a brush pile in your yard to provide shelter for wildlife. Buy NC GreenPower.
    Plant dill or butterfly weed, both excellent host plant for butterflies. Keep car, boat, and other engines properly tuned
    Follow local watering restrictions. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
    July
    Replace non-native plants with native plants. Clump them for a better habitat. Use rechargeable batteries.
    Get a good reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
    Use bar soap instead of soap in plastic bottles. Plant a tree.
    Use EPA Safer Choice Cleaning Products Drive an energy efficient car.
    Don’t litter! Drive less, carpool or use public transportation
    August
    Use a bucket and sponge to wash your car. Use as clothes line.
    Wash vegetables in a bowl or sink instead of under running water Inform your elected officials about your concerns about climate change.
    Pick up litter in your neighborhood. Commit to the use of clean, renewable sources of energy.
    Buy used rather than new clothes and donate gently used clothes. Change out old toilets for low-flush ones.
    September
    Don’t use plastic straws. Buy and use stainless-steel straws.
    Consolidate errands so you drive less. Sign-up for curbside recycling and learn the rules.

    Read Laudato Si

    https://www.papalencyclicals.net/

    Find places that recycle electronics such as https://www.anythingwithaplugrecycling.com/
    Try a vegetable you haven’t tried before. Buy ethically sourced and fair trade products.
    Keep plasticware in the car to reuse for take-out meals. Identify places you visit regularly that accept light bulbs and batteries for recycling – and take yours!
    October
    Use dry detergent in recyclable cardboard boxes. Plant a spicebush for berries that birds love.
    Hold back on using heated water when possible. Contact companies to be removed from paper mailing lists.
    Eat less meat. Experiment with vegetarian recipes. Use reusable shopping bags.
    Buy in bulk and bring your own containers at places such as Part and Parcel  pnpdurham.com Install energy efficient windows.
    November
    Use left-overs; can it/freeze it/pickle it/enjoy pie for breakfast! Wash and re-use food storage bags.
    Use leftover water for houseplants. Put produce bags in all your shopping bags for reuse.
    Switch from cow’s milk to a plant based milk. Buy fewer toys for your children.
    Use cloth rags instead of paper towels. Look for non-plastic toys.
    December
    Send email cards instead of paper ones Give experiences instead of gifts.
    Use the library or e-books instead of buying. Turn off as much as possible when not in use.
    Use reusable gift bags or wrap in comic pages. Re-envision instead of redecorating.

    Buy local.

     

    Buy a living Christmas tree and plant it, or an organic Christmas tree that has a lower environmental impact.
    Use a wool ball in your dryer instead of dryer sheets. Examine your lifestyle for instances of overconsumption or waste.
    Through the Windows of St. Francis - Reflective Tour of Church Grounds

    “Through the Windows of St. Francis” is a small reflective tour of different places on our St. Francis of Assisi church grounds where one can easily reach to reflect upon the themes of God’s Creation.  Each of these locations have slightly different themes and are focused on different spiritualities. The basic goal for all of these areas is to stop, observe, listen, and connect to God through many subjects of the natural world. 

    By increasing our awareness of the sacred home of St. Francis of Assisi parish, we can begin to care more deeply for God’s created world, and God’s people. We can join in the global home God calls us to be a part of, not apart from. 

    Click on this link for the google document that will take you to this reflection tour. 

    Get Involved

    Current Activities of the Care for Creation Ministry

    • Black Farmer to Church CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Backed by Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), the local Faith and Farms Partnership Project supports local Black farmers who provide subscribers with fresh produce each week for set lengths of time.  Helpers are needed to divide the food, help with distribution and some administrative duties. Or you can just buy the veggies! If you are interested, contact Elizabeth Kearse at stfccreation@gmail.com
    • Butterfly Garden: Our campus Butterfly Garden needs occasional attention to keep plants divided and healthy, the watering system in working order and the stepping-stones straight. If you are interested, contact Valerie MacNabb at stfccreation@gmail.com 
    • Nuthatch Boxes: One way of heeding the call of Pope Francis to restore biodiversity is to install nesting boxes to replace lost nesting habitat. We have installed fifteen boxes for brown-headed nuthatches around our campus to provide nesting sites. Check them out!  Learn more about these unique birds here:  https://nc.audubon.org/conservation/make-little-room-brown-headed-nuthatch
    • Community Garden: We have a Community Garden on our parish campus (in front of the log house on Leesville Rd). Established in 2010, the Franciscan Community Garden was established to be an inspiration for others and a source of organically grown food that is donated to those in need. Join other gardeners on Saturday mornings as often as you like. If you are interested, contact Pat Kelly at 919-413-8833.
    • Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle (ICCT): St. Francis is partnered with this interfaith network of congregations in Wake County. ICCT’s goal is to “fulfil our sacred duty to love and protect Creation, address our changing climate and ensure justice for all life.” ICCT coordinates informational programs, shares ideas among congregations, encourages political advocacy, and has a website full of great information. You can check out more information about ICCT and its upcoming programing at the website – https://interfaithcreationcare.org or contact St. Francis parishioner Peggy Denison at stfccreation@gmail.com 
    • Zero Waste:  We are encourage the elimination of unnecessary waste in our homes, in our life-style choices, and in our church. We do education program and offer suggested actions. If you are interested in this, contact Peter and Alyson Zwerneman at stfccreation@gmail.com
    • Season of Creation: The Season of Creation is a month+ long event (September 1st to October 4th) encouraging awareness of creation, combining the urgency of our current climate situation and the teachings of St. Francis. If you are interested in helping, contact Pam James at stfccreation@gmail.com
    • Earth Day: We use April 22 (established as Earth Day in 1970 to support environmental protection) as an opportunity for a week of information and activities. We have often had an Earth Day celebration after our weekend masses, or have done local creek clean-ups. Ideas welcome! 
    • If you are interested in helping, contact Pam James at stfccreation@gmail.com 
    Zero/Low Waste Shopping Recommendations

    Zero/Low Waste Shopping

    We have made a working list of companies seeking to ethically address their environmental impact and business practices in light of a changing climage. We hope you can continue to seek out ways to address waste in your home and business and, more broadly, live in a way where your Catholic values are supported through your shopping practices. Every consumer decision we made shapes the kind of planet we live in. There are always people and planet inpacted by what we buy, use, and discard. We encourage all parishioners to be intentional in their shopping choices.

     

    Click here for access this Zero/Low Waste Shopping List

    Pope Francis' Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home

    Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home,” is an unprecedented opportunity to bring together people of faith to address one of the most urgent moral problems of our time: climate change. “Laudato Si'” means “Praised be” and is the repeating line in St. Francis’ famous Canticle Of The Creatures.

    You can access a summary and study guide of this encyclical written by St. Francis Director of Justice and Peace Trevor Thompson here. 

    Watch Franciscan friar and former pastor of our parish Fr. David McBriar’s appearance on WRAL-TV in 2015 to discuss the encyclical and St. Francis church’s response.

    Pope Francis connects the dots in how our faith calls us to protect the earth and to protect human dignity. We must witness to God’s love by caring for people who are poor (many of whom are already experiencing the effects of climate change across the globe) and for unborn future generations.

     

    Living our Call to Care for Creation at St. Francis of Assisi

    2020. St. Francis goes solar. In order to deepen our commitment to care for God’s creation and be good stewards of the planet, St. Francis installed 216 functioning solar panels on the roof of Clare Hall on our campus. It is estimated that these panels will produce annual 95,317 kilo-Watt-hours of solar energy, and that over the next 25 years, these panels will prevent around 1,500 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere and save the parish around $200,000.

    You can also read about our solar efforts in the News & Observer: A Raleigh church fulfills a pledge to protect God’s creation with solar panels” and in the NC Catholic Magazine: “St. Francis Unveils New Solar Project

    And watch a recording of our Solar Panel Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

    September 15, 2020. We hosted a virtual event via Zoom sharing the details of St. Francis of Assisi Church’s solar project, how this commitment helps our parish live out our mission and values, and ways to take the next step in solar for your church, business, or home. This program included presentations from St. Francis staff person Trevor Thompson, St. Francis parishioner Larry Petrovick, St. Francis solar contractor Scott Alexander from Eagle Solar & Light, and Fr. Pat Cahill, pastor and Bill Maloney, Solar Project Manager, both from St. Eugene Catholic Church in Asheville, NC. You can access a recording of this event by clicking on this link: WHY SOLAR ON A CHURCH?

    April 2015. Our K-8 school, The Franciscan School has celebrated Earth Week for several years. In April, children participated in a day of hands-on exhibits of different ways of caring for the earth.

    October 2014. Parishioner Sheila Read represented the Catholic voice at a local conference on science, religion and climate change by giving a speech and participating in a panel discussion.

    October 2014. We hosted a viewing and discussion of “Chasing Ice,” a National Geographic photographer’s project documenting the rapid melting of glaciers.

    Winter 2013. An energy audit showed the parish had made a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by replacing some older HVAC units and transitioning to compact fluorescent and LED lighting.

    Spring 2013. St. Francis hosted a three-part community conversation on climate change and faith featuring faith leaders, Duke professors in environmental science and politics, and a panel of local leaders on climate issues.

    June 2012. We collected 114 signatures and delivered them to the governor’s office opposing a rush to approve fracking in North Carolina while many questions remain about its safety and benefits. (Fracking is hydraulic drilling for natural gas in which water and chemicals are injected into wells to fracture rocks).

    Summer 2012. 12 people participated in an 8-week study circle on faith and climate change.

    February 2012. Our parish was awarded a silver LEED certification by the United States Green Building Council for our commitment to the environment.

    February 2011. Three of our newest buildings received Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) awards. The buildings are St. Mary of the Angels Chapel, the Community Center, and the St. Francis of Assisi Preschool. A fourth building, the Siena Center for Education and Lifelong Learning, received a silver LEED award.

    Spring 2011 to present. We are in the fifth year of growing produce at the organic Franciscan Community Garden that was born in part out of parishioners’ concern about the Gulf Oil Spill and the need to inspire folks to grow more food locally. Last year, the garden contributed more than 1,000 pounds of produce to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle for distribution to people who are hungry.

     

    Activities and Apps

    Activity to build awareness of nature around us: CCA-Neighborhood-Natives-Scavenger-Hunt

    Program to manage power consumption at home: duke-energy.com/home/products/power-manager

    App to identify things in nature: Seek by iNaturalist

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