Care of 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 to care for God’s creation, the Care for Creation Ministry meets monthly to plan and execute activities involving the parish as a whole and individual parishioners in living more in harmony with people and creation.  We hope to reach more parishioners and work with the interfaith community to inspire practical lifestyle changes and a unified voice calling for political leadership on this urgent issue.

If you are interested in being part of this ministry, 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.

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.
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 Waste Recommendations

Zero Waste Products

The following is 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. 

 

Product

Company

What to like?

Toilet Paper/Paper towels

Who Gives A Crap

-Donates 50% of profits to building toilets and improving sanitation in the developing world

-Plastic free products

-100% bamboo or recycled paper 

-B Corp Certified for environmental impact

Bar Soap (unscented)

Dr. Bronner’s bar soap

-No animal testing

-Certified Vegan

-Non-GMO

-Fair for Life

-Plastic Free wrapping

Hand Soap

Blueland

-Eliminates single-use plastic soap bottles

-Packaging is recyclable or compostable

-Certified Vegan

-Cradle to Cradle Platinum certified

-Climate Neutral Certified

-B Corp Certified for environmental impact

Dishwasher Tablets

Blueland

-Eliminates single-use plastic wrapped dishwasher tablets and packaging

-Packaging is recyclable or compostable

-Certified Vegan

-Cradle to Cradle Platinum certified

-Climate Neutral Certified

-EWG Verified

-B Corp Certified for environmental impact

Dryer Balls

Wool Dryer Balls

-No more dryer sheets

-Wool

-We use 2 and gave some away to friends

Hair Ties

Hippy Monkey Hair Ties

-Plastic Free

-Biodegradable

-Vegan

Deodorant

Attitude

-EWG verified

-Biodegradable paper packaging

-For every product purchased, Attitude will plant a tree with Eden Reforestation or One Tree Planted

Food – package free

Part & Parcel, Durham NC

-Local Company supporting package-free (or reduced plastic-free packaging) for grocery, home cleaning supplies, personal care products, and more

-Focus on locally sourced and eco friendly products

-Currently only online order / pick-up available

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.

This year, our Care of Creation Ministry has put together a wonderful 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.  

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.

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.

 

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