On December 4th 2016, the parishioners of the Church of the Ascension of the Lord, Balally, situated in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, welcomed Sr. Catherine Brennan, Representative of Eco-Congregation Ireland, to their Sunday Eucharist. The occasion was the presentation to the parish of the ECI Eco Award in recognition of the parish’s long engagement with the issues of climate change and climate justice.
Members of Balally Parish Environment Group, contributed to an ecologically themed liturgy during which Sr. Catherine made the award. The liturgy started with a procession of ecological symbols representing elements of life on this planet: water, earth, fire, bulbs. An image of the suffering earth, painted by a local artist, was also placed before the altar. The Bidding Prayers, the Penetential Act, the Post-Communion Reflection, a poem ‘What did you do when you knew?’, the solo violin music and the recessional hymn, all combined to reflect the theme of care for our fragile earth, God’s creation.
In an inspiring homily, Monsignor Dermot Lane, Parish Priest of Balally, reminded the congregation that humanity needs to recover our bond with the natural world, that respect and care for the beautiful earth, our common home, is an integral part of our Christian faith and mission, that ‘being a Christian in the 21st century carries with it a commitment to care for God’s creation, not as optional, but as something essential to Christian faith today.’
Sr. Catherine spoke about the work of ECI to encourage parish communities all over Ireland to ‘walk gently on the earth’ before presenting the award. She said ‘’Care for our common home’ is at the heart of prayer and the Sunday liturgy in Balally parish. This is not an optional extra in our churches but integral to worship’.
Two children from the parish primary schools, both of whom are members of their respective school’s Green Flag Committee, representing the next generation, accepted the award on behalf of the whole parish community. A memorable occasion for all the parishioners of Balally was followed by a celebratory cup of Fair Trade tea and homemade buns in the Parish Pastoral Centre, heated by solar panels.