By Linda Guilding - March 15th, 2023 | Posted in News No comments

On Sunday 5th March, 50 parishioners came together from  the three parishes of Our Lady of Mercy and St Joseph parish, Lymington, St Anne’s, Brockenhurst and St Francis of Assisi, Milford on Sea to listen to the Pope’s message on Care for our Common home through presentations from Our Lady & St Joseph primary school, and the Care for Creation group at St Anne’s.

Laudato Si’ is an encyclical of Pope Francis published in May 2015. It focuses on care for the natural environment and all people, as well as broader questions of the relationship between God, humans, and the Earth. The encyclical’s subtitle, “Care for Our Common Home,” reinforces these key themes.

After a prayer led by Fr David, and a warm welcome by our Chair of Our Lady & St Joseph Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), Magdalen Chadbourn, we watched a short video from CAFOD explaining the Pope’s message.

This was followed by a video presentation by children from our Green Flag Award Eco school, Our Lady & St Joseph, in which they told us about the projects they are undertaking to care for creation:

The Queen’s Canopy Award, the Conference the school Council attended on Climate change. The fruit and veg they grow which is not only incorporated into their school lunches but was also donated to the Food Bank. They talked about the influence of David Attenborough and saving our oceans by recycling plastic. How local suppliers provided them with fencing posts to make Bee hydration stations in the wild garden. How they are soon to be involved in the RHS Big Seed Sow. Later this month they will, with the help of Caritas and local garden centres, be growing purple flowers in the school grounds to support “Go purple- getting talking about epilepsy day.” They will then attend the local Farmers Market where they will be selling the produce they have grown donating the money earned to support a local charity.

This was followed by a presentation by Annabelle from St Anne’s Care for Creation group explaining how it was inspired by the Pope’s message.  Prior to lockdown the group encouraged and promoted changes in parishioners’ lifestyles and within the parish, through the distribution of leaflets with tips and ideas and the use of an information board which was set up in the Parish rooms, they promoted recycling and the reduction of using plastic.  Another member of the group, Henrietta upcycled and adapted curtains for the parish rooms to help reduce waste of energy.  The group also adopted the use of organic and/or fair-trade tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits for Parish refreshments.

With support from the PPC and Fabric and Finance Committee they have made changes to the environment at St Anne’s. They encouraged wildlife in the church grounds by creating a wildlife garden, putting up Swift and other bird boxes, installing a Hedgehog house and they obtained agreement from the Fabric and Finance Committee to withdraw the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals in the church grounds.  They raised some money to help our Catholic school to establish a wildlife garden too.  Throughout 2020 and 2021, when it was more difficult to meet, they continued their goals by supporting national and global campaigns relating to the climate and nature crises through CAFOD and other Christian based organisations.

A lot of information was packed into 45 minutes fuelled by a great selection of homemade cakes……with not a piece of plastic packaging in sight!

It’s now over to the PPC’s in our three parishes to review the content of the presentations and to see what can be learnt from them, and what we can put in place to care for our own diverse parish environments of town, forest and sea.