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Father Muench Says...

God has entrusted the natural world to us

June 18, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

You and I have been blessed to live in the most beautiful part of this country – of this world.  Living here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, the beauty of God’s creation is no secret.  I have often experienced so many of these blessings in this area of ours.

I have lived on the shores of Lake Champlain, on the shores of Lake Ontario and on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.  I have recently had the opportunity to live in the Adirondack Mountains.  It is rather special to walk each morning looking up at the towering Adirondacks. What a powerful reminder of beauty of this world.

My faith teaches me to believe in a Creator.  In some way, I believe and I know that my God has fashioned this world.  God the Father is a Creator.  Because I believe in God as a Creator, I must see something sacred in this land where I live.  So, my spirituality is led by rivers and lakes, by trees and mountains right to God.  Further, I know that God has entrusted this natural world to you and me.  We must do something to do all we can to protect our world.

I have read and been instructed often – as I suspect you have – about the many threats to our climate and to this natural world.  Many of these sound rather frightening to me.  So something must be done.  Many have written to me and approached me with the lists of the important things that individual can do.  You have probably seen such lists, I know.  We must make certain that we can get these good practices out to everyone.

I have discovered that we have a group of people here in our diocese, who are working to take these challenges seriously.  They have studied and discussed the challenges and dangers.  They are working to do something.  Their efforts are based strongly on their faith as Catholics.  They tell me, “It is fundamental to our identity as Catholics to care for the earth.  No one is off the hook.” So, our group has sent me materials to help me understand the importance for us all – and the many reasons for us all to do what we can – even, as just an individual.  One of their goals is form “a green parish.”  Let me quote a booklet that was prepared for a parish: “A green parish is a community of believers which fosters a deeper understanding of the sacredness of our earth as God’s creation.  It strives to accomplish religious conviction through sound environmental leadership by building relationships of common understanding among parishioners.  It also facilitates specific actions and initiatives that positively impact Mother Earth and all it community of life.”

I am certain that our diocesan group will reach out to each parish with a plan to make each a “green parish.”  I have priest friends in many places who have worked hard to bring good ecological practices to their parishes. I know many people who certainly are committed to such good practices – and truly trust that their efforts will make a difference and make their world a better place.  I have watched a good friend, a priest, who almost personally has taken on a parish recycling program.  Everything is on his list.

I sat down recently with my friend, Father Paul Beyette, who is truly committed to these programs – to talk about solar panels.  He is convinced that these solar panels do make a difference and continue to make a difference in many places.  Father Paul is part of our diocesan group that is working to get the message out that we can all so something.  I am certain he has some good ideas about how to make a parish a “green parish.”  We can all so something.

So, I asked Father Paul if had convinced anyone about solar panels.  He smiled – and immediately filled me in on the fact that Bishop LaValley was planning to install solar panels at the Bishop’s residence in Ogdensburg.

I will close this with the recent pleas given by Pope Francis: “Whenever we fail to care for our brothers and sisters in creation, the way is opened to destruction, and hearts are burdened…Lord, grant that all who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of good will – grant that we all be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

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