The Church of the Most Precious Blood, Cabra West, Dublin, has done a great job of incorporating Creation Care into the life of the parish since the arrival of the Religious Sisters of Charity in 2008.
One of the aims of the congregation in coming to Cabra West was to promote ecology and ‘Care for the Earth’. Sr Clare Byrne RSC, who is a great believer in all to do with Creation, was the inspiration and motivator of all that happened subsequently in the parish in relation to environmental care. It was with her invitation that Fr John Greene, Clare Carey (a Columban lay person), Parish Secretary Linda Malone and the Parish Pastoral Council became involved.
The parish has celebrated Creation Time (1st September to 4th October) every year since 2008, the aim being to create an awareness locally of the importance of caring for the Earth and how this may be done. The theme of Creation has been included in sermons, prayers of the faithful, hymns and communion reflections as well as items in the parish newsletter. Each year a special theme is chosen for Creation Time and children in the local national schools create posters, which are then displayed in the church.
On the practical side, an area of wasteland beside the priests’ house has been transformed into a beautiful garden that includes a vegetable patch as well as beautiful trees, flowers and shrubs. This was achieved with the help of a number of men in the parish.
At other times the parish has hosted a ‘Be the Change’ seminar and a series of reflection evenings on Creation. These included inviting Sr Catherine Brennan, ECI’s Catholic rep, to give a presentation and inviting members of Inchicore and Balally parishes to share their experiences of ‘greening’ their own parishes.
Other speakers have included Sr Angela Campion OP, who spoke on the theme ‘Finding the Presence of God in all of Creation’, Claire Carey who spoke about the Creation Mandala and Angie Escarsa, a Philippine lay missionary co-ordinator, who spoke about water justice. Fr Liam O’Callaghan, a young Columban missionary home from Pakistan, spoke on sustainable farming and his experiences in Pakistan.
Last autumn the parish celebrated Harvest with parishioners bringing fruit and vegetables from their own gardens, which resulted in a beautiful display in front of the altar. This was shared among the people after the final celebration of the Eucharist that day.
On receiving the award, Fr John Greene said, “Having a Care for The Earth and Ecology as a priority has been important for the parish team of the parish of The Most Precious Blood, Cabra West since 2008. The aim of the seminars, prayers of the faithful, having a guest speaker at weekend Masses during Creation Time each year was to create a greater awareness of the need to appreciate the beauty of Creation as something to be grateful to God for, and the importance of caring for it. An awareness was also created among the children of the national schools by inviting them to take part in art competitions and prayer services in the schools.
“In 2008 there was a large site belonging to the parish, backing on the priests' houses, that had been neglected over the years and ended up being a dump. It was decided to turn it into a garden and, by doing so, that it might serve as a motivation to others to value their own little garden and encourage people to grow shrubs and vegetables for themselves, as so many of their own parents had done. The creating of the garden was admired by the people and many good conversations were had over the railing with the people as they passed by. A section of the garden was reserved for the growing of potatoes and vegetables; this section was later turned into a section for gooseberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes.”
Fr Greene has since returned to Chile where he worked previously as a missionary. He is confident that Care for the Earth will continue to be a priority in Cabra West, though, especially with the added inspiration and motivation of Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato Si.