Laudato Si' Action Platform

On Care for Our Common Home

In 2015, Pope Francis issued his second encyclical to the world, entitled Laudato Si', on care for our common home. This encyclical is a direct appeal to citizens of Earth to begin a discussion about the future of our planet. The title is an Umbrian phrase which translates to "Praise be to you." It is taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun, a prayer the famous saint wrote in which he praises God for all of his creations and earthly aspects such as Brother Sun and Sister Moon and then reaffirms his ideology of rejecting materialism. In Laudato Si', Pope Francis writes on the urgency to face environmental challenges and urges everyone to embark on a new path with him; one that shows care for the planet and for fellow humans. He states, “Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection to brother sun, sister moon, brother river, and mother earth.” He concludes, “The earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone.” The Laudato Si' Action Platform is a multi-year plan to make communities around the world sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology. There are seven initiatives of Laudato Si': response to the cry of the earth, response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, adoption of sustainable lifestyles, ecological education, ecological spirituality, community engagement, and participatory action.

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In response to Pope Francis’ call, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago have reviewed the initiative, and then responded to the Pope’s challenge. Here is their official statement on the Laudato Si' Action Platform:

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 “Our Foundress, Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik, reflected on what she saw in the streets and alleys of Chicago on a record cold winter day in the 1890s: ‘I felt the misery and suffering of others, and it seemed to me that I could not love Jesus, or even expect heaven, if I were only concerned about myself…. Consequently I was constantly occupied with the thought of how I could be of service to the needy and the poor.’ We, her daughters, together with our Franciscan Associates, continue to hear the cry of the needy and poor, and of our anguishing Mother Earth. Therefore we commit ourselves to walk the seven-year journey towards integral ecology called for by Pope Francis in the Laudato Si' Action Platform. We pledge our time, energy, resources, and creativity to educate, advocate, and act on behalf of our suffering Mother Earth and on behalf of all of our sisters and brothers who live together with us in her embrace.”

In this article, we will focus on the first two initiatives: response to the cry of the earth and response to the cry of the poor, and the work the Sisters have done in addressing these initiatives.

Response to the cry of the earth

The response to the cry of the earth is a call to protect the environment for the well-being of all. Pope Francis pushes for action on the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and ecological sustainability. The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago have long focused on improving the environment and protecting biodiversity around Our Lady of Victory Convent and Franciscan Ministries in Lemont. Native trees such as redbud and red maple trees were planted around the border between the houses and Franciscan Village. A butterfly garden that grows purple coneflowers was planted behind the FSC Administration building. These flowers are native to northeastern Illinois. Also around the grounds of the convent, there are lots of flowers, trees, bushes and other beautiful pieces of landscape that have always been well maintained by the excellent plant operations team that works for the Sisters. They have also instituted regular litter removal around the grounds of OLV Convent.

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Environmental scenes around OLV Convent show the butterfly garden behind the FSC Administration building, the pond near the Sisters' cemetery, and the a line of trees along the path from the Franciscan grotto to the Stations of the Cross area.


Response to the cry of the poor

 

The Sisters have always responded to the cry of the poor. Their foundress, the Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik, started the congregation in Chicago during an economic downturn and came to the aid of the aged, poor, abandoned, and orphaned in the city. She developed the building blocks of compassion, love and support that the Sisters have provided to so many poor and suffering people in need. Over the years, the Sisters have responded to the cry of the poor through many ways including:

  • Sharing monetary resources through the FSC ministry grant program

  • Participating in multiple immigrant advocacy groups and direct services

  • Assisting African Outreach by providing education services to Upendo Village and providing monetary grant resources to the ‘Friends of Imiliwaha’ and the African Sisters Education Collaborative

  • Participating in social services, counseling, and parish outreach through the Quinn Center and Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership

  • Helping the homeless through the Southwest Chicago Homeless Center and through Franciscan Outreach

  • Sponsoring of St. Jude House, a family violence prevention center, and working with domestic abuse agencies

  • Participating in the Native American Ministry with the St. Kateri Center and De La Salle Blackfeet School

  • Assisting in youth programs such as the Juvenile Protection Agency and the Padua Center

  • Establishing the Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant and sharing monetary resources

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The other initiatives of Laudato Si' and how the Sisters will heed the call of Pope Francis will be shared in an upcoming article.  Stay tuned for more and follow the Sisters on their Facebook for part two!. 


(Left) The Sisters offer the Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant award annually to their participating sponsored communities.
(Center) The Sisters often work with the immigration advocacy group, Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants.
(Right) Supporters of St. Jude House from FSC and Franciscan Ministries.


 


A Christian prayer in union with creation by Pope Francis


+ Father, we praise you with all your creatures. They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. + Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made. You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, you became part of this earth, and you gazed upon this world with human eyes. Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory. + Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. + Praise be to you! Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you. Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made. Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is. + God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. + Praise be to you! Amen.

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This statue of Jesus is at the Stations of the Cross at OLV Convent.