Justice and Peace has been praying and fasting for the Climate for several months now, and Welwyn Garden City hosted the July 1st event, only a few days after Pope Francis’s encyclical (Laudato Si) was published. Over 60 people, from various Hertfordshire parishes, gathered at Our Lady Queen of Apostles church.
We began with Anne Stapleton’s ice-breaker Quiz in the lovely Peace Garden. Father Norbert Fernandes, Parish priest, then asked parishioners from the various continents to explain to us how Climate Change affects their particular country, and to start the evening, Cyril Apelo (the son of a Filipino parishioner) sang for us. Then, we were given the following presentations:-
Cesar Marmolejo Morales showed us how his home town in the mountains and state of Michoacán ( Mexico), the ‘world centre for avocadoes’, was in some ways a victim of its own success, in that forest had been cut down to plant this sought-after crop, rainwater was not retained, then, by the forest and temperatures were hotter.
North America, explained by Ann Chappell, while at one point contributing most to the production of Greenhouse gases, had at least made the biggest efforts to cut down, and now was outstripped by China as the biggest culprit. Canada, too, was making efforts in this area.
Europe – again a big contributor to the problem, was described by the WGC Focolare group – pointed out that 25% of toxic gases came from home emissions and 23% from transport. We need to address these on all levels: personal, national and international.
New Zealand and Australia, explained by New Zealand-born Mike Cade, who surprised everyone by saying that many in that part of the world deny responsibility for climate change. How can their small populations affect things? But Mike reminded us that methane gas is more toxic and powerful (by a factor of 28) than CO2 and the amount of livestock in both of these countries is huge, thus significantly contributing to global warming.
Africa was represented by Ama Owusu-Afriyeh,Head girl at nearby Loreto College.She took us through the problems of global warming and lack of rainfall in the Sahel (a semi-arid area, to the south of the Sahara, and stretching across ten countries, from Senegal to Eritrea), and the devastating effects on all the countries in that region.
Philippines and the problems suffered in that region were elaborated on by Rizza Apelo
The parishioners displayed and produced a wealth of knowledge, all from their own research and resources. The event finished with a Pope Francis’s inspiring encyclical prayer for creation and for all those already suffering from the terrible effects of global warming.
We enjoyed food from around the world, followed by a musical reflection from Sister Gill of The Daughters of the Cross of Liege, from Much Hadham (Herts).
A great evening for Justice & Peace: all are invited to take up and host their own events on the first of the month, to pray for the best possible outcome of the Paris Climate talks (in December), and of course for the survival of our planet.