Once you’ve established the mission of your new parish group and created a thought-out plan, the next stage is to get to work!
Often it can be wise to start small and to gradually introduce a theme or a project over time. The lives of our parishioners can be extremely hectic, so it can take many repeated messages for people to find about any new initiatives.
Whether you’re starting small or plunging straight into the deep end, we’ve pulled together one or two suggestions of activities you might like to consider:
- Tip of the month: The parish newsletter is always your friend! Why not ask your parish priest if you could include an environmental tip of the month in the newsletter – and on social media, if you have it. Don’t forget to present this alongside our diocesan Prayer for our Common Home to remind people that our environmental actions are rooted in faith!
- Share the message: It’s important to remember that not every parishioner might be up to speed with the latest messages from the Church on our ecological crisis. Why not provide copies of Laudato Si’ at the back of church, or posters with QR codes to Laudato Si’ and our own Hearing the Cry document.
- Look for key opportunities to bring our environmental emergencies into the prayers of our parish. Whether it’s Season of Creation, Laudato Si’ week, Lent, or political event such as COP, there a plenty of opportunities to share a prayer of intercession or a short talk to remind people of our mission.
Are there any practical steps you can to make your parish more environmentally friendly? Do you currently have coffee and tea after Mass? If so, are you using Fairtrade tea and coffee? Are you using plastic or paper cups and plates? Do you recycle in your parish? Does your cleaning team use natural-based, environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
Having established a culture of environmental awareness within your parish, the options to step up your environmental work becomes much more possible. Take a look below for one or two ideas you might like to try!
- Organise a Parish Prayer Walk: This is a wonderful way to build a sense of community and to connect with the beauty of creation. Whether is a short prayer reflection in the grounds of your short, a short walk from the church to your parish school, or perhaps a more ambitious deanery or ecumenical walk, a Walk for Creation is a fantastic way to come together out of care for our common home. Take a look at a Parish Walk Guide to help you get started. Perhaps tie it in before or after Mass to encourage people to tag along.
- Organise a screening of The Letter: In October 2022, Pope Francis released a powerful documentary on caring for our common home entitled The Letter. This thought-provoking watch addresses the devastating effects of our climate crisis, as well as the responsibility we have as stewards of creation to respond. It is available for free here. Why not host a screening in your parish or deanery – perhaps before or after Mass?
- Create a calendar: Why not celebrate the beauty of your parish community by creating and selling a parish calendar. You could ask parishioners to submit photos to include and sell the calendars to raise funds for a particular charity or to support your own parish. Don’t forget! As always, it’s important to establish an appetite for this before you begin!
- Provide resources and services to help families respond: It’s often hard for families and individuals to know where and how to begin tackling the climate crisis. Our parishes can help in a whole number of ways by signposting to key resources, such as our Gardening for Wildlife and Envirolent guides, or helping parishioners on their way. Perhaps you could provide a soft plastics bin at church to encourage people to recycle and to demonstrate the significant impact we can make when working together. You could even provide a list of local suppliers of locally-produced, organic food, or environmentally-friendly alternatives for Christmas gifts!
- Organise a visit to our Laudato Si’ Centre to learn more about Pope Francis’ teachings, our role as Guardians of Creation, and what our parish communities can do to respond to our ecological crisis.
The Long Haul
By now, you should have created a vibrant parish response to our ecological crisis. Now is the time to think long-term and what lasting impact you can make as a parish community.
Larger projects are big commitments, and it’s important to be sure you have the network, time, and resources to dedicate to the project. Having said this, parishes across our diocese have reported incredible results, from winning North West in Bloom awards for parish gardens, producing and selling honey, serving the community through wonderful outreach projects, and helping people from across the world through refugee welcome programmes and providing overseas development support.
Here are one or two projects you might like to consider:
- Creating a parish garden or outdoor space: Provide a place for people across the community to enjoy the beauty of creation in your parish grounds. Don’t forget to root this in faith by providing inspiration and opportunities for private and group prayer.
- Establish a regular social outreach mission: This could be a collection for a foodbank, fundraising soup lunches, opportunities for refugees or those experiencing homelessness to pop in for a cup of tea and chat. Is there a way your parish could provide support for our brothers and sisters at home and around the world?
- Celebrate the Fruits of Creation! Is there anything better than homegrown fruit or veg, or a homecooked meal? Our eating habits have a big impact on our carbon footprint but there are wonderful ways to make a big difference. Is there an opportunity to share homegrown produce in our parishes? Perhaps create a mini-market? Could you create a seasonal, vegetarian or vegan cookbook? Could we produce and sell products such as honey, jams, and preserves to raise funds for different causes or our parish community?
- Cut the carbon: Another key consideration is travel. Is there an opportunity in our parishes to establish a carshare scheme, a walk to church/school scheme or competition, provision for cycle racks etc.
Hearing the Cry: Responding with Hope – Diocesan Environment Strategy
Parish Walk Guide
Gardening for Wildlife