The Faith in Action Group of Ballinaspeaig Parish in Dennehy’s Cross, Cork, decided to become involved with Eco-Congregation Ireland following a discussion forum they held on Fr Seán McDonagh’s book, To Care for the Earth, in 2006.
Since then they have initiated a number of projects aimed at promoting environmental awareness and appreciation of the wonderful gift of Creation and our responsibility for planet earth.
The group has distributed acorns, bulbs and seeds to parishioners and to pupils in local schools.
As well as holding a Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration and Sharing, events have been held to mark World Environment Day and Earth Hour.
In 2015 they hosted a Lenten series entitled ‘Creation Matters: Our World in Our Hands’.
Guest speakers have been invited to address various environmental aspects, including sustainable living.
The parish bulletin regularly includes articles, notices and eco tips under the theme ‘Creation Matters’.
The past two years the parish has celebrated Earth Hour with music, prayer, readings and peace by candlelight.
Ballinspeaig was the first church in Ireland to become a Fairtrade Parish* and the Faith in Action Group continues to promote Fairtrade in the local community and to resident businesses.
The parish raises funds for its twin parish - Turkwell – in Kenya. To date, funds have gone towards well-boring, irrigation, solar panels and a health clinic.
The group has not only worked hard promoting the belief that Creation matters but has also assisted other parishes in the formation of similar parish initiatives.
Ballinaspeaig well deserves the Eco-Congregation Ireland award it was presented with on 4th October (the Feast of St Francis) 2015 and we wish them all the best as they continue on their eco journey.
*Ballineaspaig – Fairtrade Parish
One of the earliest actions of the Faith in Action Group was the promotion of Fairtrade goods. They were attracted by the fundamental principles of Fairtrade, which emphasised justice, education, and care for the environment, and stressed practical action.
Their first task was to co-operate with Fairtrade Ireland in drawing up the criteria to achieve that status. The following six criteria were agreed:
- The formation of a parish Fairtrade Steering Group;
- Local shops supplying Fairtrade products; and Fairtrade products available in local cafes, restaurants, hotels;
- Local businesses using Fairtrade products;
- Popular support and publicity for the Fairtrade campaign;
- Schools to become Fairtrade Schools;
- And the Pastoral Council to pass a resolution supporting Fairtrade, and agreeing that Fairtrade products be used by parish groups and meetings.
The Parish Pastoral Council Resolution: The Council fully supports Fairtrade; will use Fairtrade products wherever possible at its meetings and in the parish; encourages every parishioner and other groups, using the parish Crypt and Parish Centre, to do likewise; and will continue to promote Fairtrade among parishioners and throughout the parish.There followed three years of preparation and promotion in the parish area to meet these criteria. A parish Steering Committee was formed under the auspices of the Faith in Action Group, chaired by Máire Mulcahy. The Parish Pastoral Council passed the resolution. Information on Fairtrade and Fairtrade products and their availability was spread among parishioners, through the parish Bulletin, talks, raffles, quizzes, and notices in the Church. Schools were encouraged to become Fairtrade Schools and supermarkets and restaurants were urged to supply Fairtrade products. There was a special focus on the Fairtrade movement during the national Fairtrade Fortnight each year.
- Articles in the parish bulletin and website giving information on new products and developments, sharing recipes using Fairtrade ingredients, and promoting the purchase of Fairtrade gifts;
- Display and distribution of information leaflets;
- Organisation of events where Fairtrade products of all kinds are displayed , e.g. the Fairtrade Christmas Fair in 2007 where a wide range of goods, gifts, foods and ingredients for Christmas baking were on display and available for sale;
- Public lectures such as those by Peter Noonan from Oxfam on “Fairtrade Products and the Third World” in 2004 and Rev. Ian Jonas on “Ordinary Actions making extraordinary Differences” in 2010;
- Regular competitions and quizzes aimed at raising awareness and encouraging involvement, all with Fairtrade prizes, such as hampers of Fairtrade goods, Easter eggs and cotton t-shirts
- Coffee mornings in the Church Crypt where Fairtrade food and drinks are enjoyed, free of charge, and open to everyone.