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Observing the 3rd Anniversary of Laudato Si

 

 

On Saturday, 07th July 2018, the JPIC-FA office in partnership with The Damietta Peace Initiative, Mother Earth Network, and the JPIC – OFM CAP organized the third anniversary of Laudato Si at the Franciscan Association Portiuncula Center. The theme of this year’s event was “Reawakening the care of our common home”. The event was part of a series of events that were observed during the week-long EACC - CONCAO JPIC - OFM gatherings with participants coming from diverse national backgrounds all over Africa and the rest of the world. 

Among other activities, the event which started at 08:00hrs, involved a presentation from a renowned lecturer at Tangaza College Fr. Charles Odira Kwanya, a movie screening, celebrating a mass, and a minute’s silence to pray for our mother earth. The event’s main coordinator was Fr. Benedict Ayodi assisted by Sr. Mary Sebastian the director of JPIC-FA.

In his presentation, Fr. Odira highlighted the impacts and challenges of Laudato Si in Africa. He underscored the need to heed to Pope Francis’s environmental concerns such as the call to action to care for our common home – the earth. He further highlighted Africa’s natural blessings and how they can speed up the continent’s growth potential, i.e. the arable soil, rainforests, the rich biodiversity, water resources, and the immense minerals. Fr. Odira also decried Africa’s environmental challenges such as the increased air, land, and water pollution which he blamed on the “throw away” culture.

He added that humans need to act by means of ecological conversion, i.e. turning away from nature destruction to conserving it, and through the sustainable use of personal items. He called upon everyone concerned to actively get involved. He said that Laudato Si has awakened the church in Africa by promoting the ongoing awareness through homilies.

Fr. Odira concluded by challenging all Franciscans to establish good relations with other religions and also set up biodiversity reserve spots such as a Franciscan forest. He added that challenges to Laudato Si such as the lack of a common plan and an ecological zeal among the clergy would be solved by emulating our patron St. Francis of Assisi and through having a common global ecological plan.

On his part, Fr. Herman Borg the director of Mother Earth Network explained how his organization has succeeded in promoting environmental awareness through organizing tree planting activities and singled out the hugely successful tree planting project in Subukia which has restored forest coverage in an area that regularly experienced droughts due to heavy deforestation. Fr. Hermann added that his organization has faced numerous challenges in trying to promote an eco-friendly culture to conserve the environment among Kenyans but also urged the Franciscan family to keep on exploring opportunities to achieve success in caring for our common home - mother earth by joining hands to do so.

The event’s main speakers Fr. Charles Odira Kwanya and Fr. Herman Borg were presented with gifts of appreciation from the event’s coordinator Fr. Benedict Ayodi on behalf of the JPIC – OFM and the Franciscans Family.

Later after the break, there was a movie screening telling the inspirational story of two men of faith, one a traveling Christian preacher, the other the ruler of a Muslim Empire, who resisted a century of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda in a search for mutual respect and common ground.

The movie told the story of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt, and their meeting on a bloody battlefield during the period of Christian - Muslim conflict known as the Crusades. The movie was in February 2017 awarded as Best Film on Religion in Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, in India.

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