Catholic Teach-in & Climate Action

By Michael Specht, FAN 2019 Intern and Postulant with Holy Name Province

This past Monday, Catholics from across Maryland gathered in Annapolis to discuss the effects of climate change in our communities and marched to the state capitol, before meeting with their respective delegates on Climate Lobby Night.

The teach-in was sponsored by several faith-based advocacy groups, including Franciscan Action Network (FAN) and took place at St. John Neumann Mission Church in Annapolis. Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM helped bring together people from several Catholic parishes in Maryland to discuss issues like rising water levels in the Chesapeake Bay, issues surrounding droughts in Central America, as well as the various health effects that are caused by air pollution.

Dr. William Dinges, a professor of Religion and Culture at Catholic University of America and a parishioner at St. John the Baptist parish in Silver Spring, spoke about how the tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church calls all believers and people of good will to work together to protect the planet. Citing the papal encyclical Gaudium et Spes, Dinges emphasized that we are to “read the signs of the times”, when it comes to the changing of our planet’s climate.

Advocates from Interfaith Power & Light and CHISPA Maryland then discussed the state of several bills in the Maryland House Assembly. One bill brought to attention was House Bill 1255, calls for all school buses purchased in 2022 or later by a county board of education to be zero-emissions vehicles. Before leaving for the Capitol, the teach-in concluded with a collective prayer for our common home, with music led by several Franciscan postulants. Fr. Jacek then blessed a basin of holy water drawn from the Chesapeake Bay, then sprinkled it on all in attendance.

Over sixty people from the teach-in then met at St. Mary’s Church in old town Annapolis, and marched together to the state capitol. Several Franciscan friars and postulants joined in on the advocacy march.

Neil Pavao, a Franciscan postulant with Sacred Heart Province and a member of the Interprovincial Postulancy program in Silver Spring, reflected on the experience of putting his faith into action on Monday in Annapolis.

“When you think about it, coming together to work on the issues surrounding climate change is an ecumenical problem” Pavao said. “We all share the same home, and it’s important to fight for it together.”

Following the march, several headed inside the Capitol to meet with their elected officials to advocate for the causes that that were discussed and prayed for earlier that day.

Published in: on February 21, 2019 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

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