The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

Hope and Help to Combat Climate Anxiety and the Cost of Living!

To follow successive Holy Fathers’ exhortations for all Catholics to hear and respond to the Cry of the People and of the Earth, culminating most recently in Pope Francis’ 2015 and 2023 encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Laudate Deum, the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission’s Climate Action Group and the Diocesan Curia Laudato Si’ Group have joined forces to form a new Sustainability Group to help us with Living Laudato Si’ in the Diocese of Leeds!

In keeping with the ‘Pilgrims of Hope’ theme of the forthcoming Jubilee Year, the new Diocesan Laudato Si’ Group’s strategy will be to focus on HOPE, to combat the feelings of powerlessness and apathy known as ‘climate anxiety’, and concentrate on what we can all do to make a difference – as well as making financial savings – in our own lives and in the homes, schools, parishes and places of work across our Diocesan Family. By doing what we can in our own lives, we can have an impact: addressing issues of energy usage, resulting in lower carbon emissions and reduced costs; our households and parishes can produce less waste, through the four ‘Rs’: Reducing consumption, Repairing, Re-using and Re-cycling; and in even the smallest gardens and green spaces, we can help to increase biodiversity.

The first meeting to discuss the further development of our diocesan sustainability strategy was chaired by Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General Mgr Andrew Summersgill and reviewed progress to date, the role of the Trustees, a newly-formed partnership with Leeds Trinity University (LTU – our local Catholic University) and a future Head of Sustainability role. There has been encouraging progress, particularly across the Catholic Multi-Academy Trusts and schools. Several parishes of our Diocese are leading in their commitment to sustainability: there have been solar panel and heat pump installations, energy audits to identify waste and five LiveSimply Awards. The principal goal is now to engage and enthuse both clergy and lay faithful in ALL parishes, reassuring them of the help, advice, grant funding, cost savings and both physical and mental health benefits of following Our Lord – and the countless Saints and many Popes throughout history who have cared for Creation and for the Beauty of the Earth.

The new Diocesan Laudato Si’ Group is supported at a national level by the Guardians of Creation Project, which has developed a framework to support decarbonisation across all the Catholic dioceses of England and Wales and most dioceses are represented on the Diocesan Environmental Leads Group, all the members of which freely share and signpost towards information, expertise and resources, such as the excellent ‘Building a Caring Community’ pages of the Journey to 2030 website.

At local level, our new Group is fully supported by the Board of Trustees and is committed to appointing a Trustee with specific responsibility for sustainability. Through a partnership fostered between the Diocesan Environmental Lead and two appointments to new roles at Leeds Trinity University (Ann Marie Mealey, Director of Mission and Katie Clegg, Director of Sustainability), there is also a plan to integrate aspects of the diocesan sustainability strategy into elective project work for LTU undergraduates as well as potential for a Diocese-sponsored MA in Sustainability. Ultimately, with the groundwork being done, there may be a role for a Diocesan Head of Sustainability who would be responsible for implementing the sustainability strategy across all our building stocks and in our parishes.

Meetings are attended by the Chair of the Diocese of Leeds Justice and Peace Commission’s Climate Action Group, Trish Sandbach, along with Paul Kelly and Keith Pitcher. Diocesan Officers include Mgr Andrew Summersgill with Kevin Anderson (Head of Property), Kieron Flood (Director of Education), John Moran (Financial Secretary) and Rowan Morton-Gledhill (Director of Communications and Diocesan Environmental Leads Group member).

The Diocese of Leeds is preparing a full-colour Jubilee 2025 Handbook of Hope for Sustainable Parishes to be distributed to every parish in our diocese, containing ideas and family-friendly activities to include all ages and use parishioner talents and skillsets, available grants and funding, contacts – and more!  Until then, the new Diocesan Laudato Si’ Group has provided the following ‘Top Tips’ with suggestions of small, achievable ways to start our journey, as we set out together – as Pilgrims of HOPE – towards a sustainable future!

Hope and Help for Sustainable Parishes

 

   

 

 

Please email environment@dioceseofleeds.org.uk with ANY of ideas, initiatives and photographs of the sustainability journey in YOUR parish!

 

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