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

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

Neighbours Growing Together in Hope!

A joint Sustainability project between the Dioceses of Leeds and Salford is sowing the seeds of Hope!

The 2025 Jubilee of Hope will also be the 80th anniversary of a miracle of nature which took place in the devastation of post-war Hiroshima. In August 1945, Ginko Biloba trees within two thousand metres of the nuclear bomb blast area survived. Against all the odds, and although scorched and damaged, the trees started to bloom and produce seeds again.

Leeds Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission member Sean Morris gave the appropriately-named Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environment at neighbouring Salford Diocese, some seeds from one of the trees still growing in Hiroshima. Over the next three years or so, Salford’s Laudato Si’ Centre has the capacity to nurture these seeds into saplings until they are sturdy enough to plant out.

Dr Gardner said, ‘We are delighted to be working with Leeds Diocese on this beautiful project, which is testament to the shared sense of mission to Care for Creation in hope and love for our brothers and sisters. We will take care of the Ginkgo seeds and seedlings until they are strong enough to be planted across Leeds Diocese and will plant one at the Laudato Si Centre in Salford Diocese as a living statement for the work we all do.’

The seedlings will represent hope for Peace as well as making an environmental statement. The Vatican was actually the first State to ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Pope has visited Hiroshima. Manchester and Leeds Councils are amongst hundreds of local authorities to pass resolutions supporting the Treaty.

Sean Morris works for Manchester City Council and has long had connections with ‘Mayors for Peace’, which is led by Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of which Manchester is a Vice-Presidential city. Sean explained, ‘I worked with Hiroshima to bring seeds first to Manchester and then to another 20 or so other towns and cities. One of them is my home council of Hebden Royd Town Council, and one of their gingko seedlings is planned for my home parish of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Mytholmroyd. That gave me the idea to look at bringing the project to churches and schools.’

Sir John Battle, Chair of the Diocese of Leeds Justice and Peace Commission said, ‘These seeds and the saplings that will grow from them act as a sign of environmental hope: that nature can recover from devastation. This hope is something that we all desperately need at this time. These trees will also provide an opportunity to discuss the overall morality of nuclear weapons, in the light of the Church’s recent teaching, which has become only too relevant again because of the war in Ukraine.’

Schools and parishes across both Dioceses are being encouraged to register their interest in taking one of these special saplings, which may be of particular interest to those with – or working towards – a CAFOD LiveSimply Award.

For further information, please email – and read more about this inter-diocesan initiative in the Diocesan Justice & Peace Commission’s May 2024 Newsletter!

Dr Emma Gardner with the Ginkgo Biloba seeds to be grown at Salford’s Laudato Si’ Centre