Catholic parishes throughout the Diocese of Kerry have been impressively eco-aware and eco-active in recent years and the diocese well deserves to become the recipient of Eco-Congregation Ireland’s first ever diocesan eco award. This will be presented in St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, by our chairperson, Sr Catherine Brennan, on Sunday 20th May 2012.
Each year during Creation Time (1st September to 4th October) the Diocesan Justice, Peace and Creation Committee organises Kerry Earth Week when parishes throughout the diocese are encouraged to make the link between their faith and concern for the natural world.
Events have included harvest masses, blessing of animals services, nature walks, litter picks and planting of spring bulbs.
During Earth Week 2011 Trócaire’s new climate change campaign, It’s Up To Us, was launched in Killarney; a special Mass in honour of Earth Week was celebrated by Bishop Murphy and a parish workshop on social justice was also held.
At Lixnaw an outdoor Harvest Mass was celebrated followed by blessing of pets. Harvest masses were also celebrated at Ballymacelligott,Dromtariffe, Derrinagree and Dromagh.Fruittreeswere also planted at the latter.
Twelve teenagers and volunteer supervisors held an all-night earth vigil in Killorglin, starting with a prayer service on the theme of Justice and Environment. Daffodil and crocus bulbs were planted in the grounds of St James’s Church and the church was decorated with earth-themed art work from three local schools for Harvest Mass.
A Harvest Mass was held in the Star of the Sea Church, Cromane, and spring bulbs were planted in the grounds.
In Cullen a Harvest Mass was followed by a bring-and-buy sale.
Fr. Gerard O'Connell spoke about Earth Week to the children in the school at Irremore.
Kerry Astronomy Club delivered "Just a Thought" on Radio Kerry and Paddy Stack gave a presentation entitled "The Night Sky" at Ardfert Retreat Centre.
In Duagh/Lyre people dug a large crop of potatoes, which they had planted in the "Gairdin Glas" and Castleisland parishioners took part in a walk to the source of the Blackwater River and to a wind farm.
Listowel marked Kerry Earth Week by holding a mass in the famine graveyard, Teampall Bán. Mass was celebrated by Canon Declan O'Connor and the music was provided by John Kinsilla, helped by some members of the Listowel Choir. A good crowd attended and the weather held up well. John Pierce, a local historian, gave a talk on the history of the graveyard which dates from 1850. John's book on the famine in North Kerry, which will include the full history of Teampall Bán and the surrounding area, was published in early 2012
A circular "tree seat" created by Kerry Parent & Friends trainees was also unveiled on the day. This complements the two existing seats outside the oratory, which were also created by Kerry Parent & Friends trainees.
Earth Week was celebrated in Gneeveguilla/Rathmore Parish with the traditional making of butter. Gareth Kennedy –an artist employed by Kerry Co. Council staged the event along with local people. A Gneeveguilla man, Martin Ashe, re-crafted a butter churn and firkin from two wooden tables. Celebrating the wealth of lore surrounding butter and its social, cultural and economic history, people from two years of age to 85 came to spin the churn, under the watchful eye of “Bean an Tí” Eileen Fleming, to help produce a large pat of butter. This was packed into the firkin and paraded through the village and then taken to the Moving Bog where it was ceremonially buried with song, speeches and music to become Bog Butter, celebrating the continuity of people and place.
St. Mary’s parish, Ballyheigue, celebrated a harvest mass in conjunction with Kerry Earth Week. It is the second year that the parish of Ballyheigue has offered mass in thanksgiving for the harvests that were gathered in this year; namely the harvest gathered from the fruits of the land, and the harvest netted from the fruits of the sea.
A presentation was set up in front of the altar table evoking different scenes from nature, portraying the richness and variety of God’s creation. A clean-up of the local beach and the entire locality was also organised.
Events held during Kerry Earth Week 2010 included a public talk by Fr Séan McDonagh on ‘Climate Change: The Challenge To All Of Us’, a biodiversity farm walk, a bat walk, a series of workshops, a ‘green’ quiz and a Fairtrade display. An ecumenical Harvest Songs of Praise was held in the Church of Ireland, Killarney, which was attended by Bishop Bill Murphy.
Workshops held included Climate Justice, The White-Tailed Eagle Project, Living Sustainably at Home and Natural History and Eucharist: A Cosmic Liturgy. Other events included a visit to KASI garden, Inisfallen and the Friary Garden.
One parish set up a bird and butterfly habitat, another a year-long project – ‘Earthlore’ - to record local sustainable projects. Others planted trees, shrubs and bulbs and held environmental prayer services.
The Diocese of Kerry is certainly living out the Catholic bishops’ edict contained in the 2009 pastoral letter, The Cry of the Earth: “Every action taken in favour of a just and more sustainable environment, no matter how small, has an intrinsic value.”
For further info see http://www.dioceseofkerry.ie/page/pastoral-groups/the-diocesan-committee/