In an effort to support parishes and schools with their finances and contributions to their community’s environment, the archdiocesan Creation Sustainability Committee has assembled a tool kit containing a practical checklist and a book authored by energy and environmental design expert David A. Troesh, with more than 70 recommendations on how to save money and energy.It is the committee’s way to celebrate its first anniversary, together with the launch of its Web site ( and the announcement of a youth photo essay contest depicting the St. Francis Pledge, in collaboration with local artist and activist John August Swanson.A year ago in October (Respect Life Month and the Feast of St. Francis), Cardinal Roger Mahony sent a letter to the faithful introducing the Creation Sustainability Ministry, created under the auspices of the archdiocesan Offices of Justice and Peace and Synod Implementation and Stewardship.In the letter, Cardinal Mahony urged parishioners to become active protecting their environment inside and outside the Church and citing Pope Benedict XVI he wrote, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”“Conservation is best taught by example,” said Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar, head of the Office of Justice and Peace, in a letter included in the kit. Citing Pope John Paul II regarding ecological awareness, he encouraged “busy pastors and principals” to use the book suggestions. The volume also includes a letter from Archbishop José Gomez.He said many of the churches and schools that have implemented even rudimentary energy-saving programs have reduced their utility bills by more than 30 percent.“Many of our facilities and practices, because we didn’t know how best to fix them, are unintentionally wasteful, and can use this resource to help see and explore new ways to save energy and prioritize the work,” the bishop continued. “Share your successes with your parishioners; many will work in their homes.”Since its inception, the committee has explored programs and resources that will better suit the needs of parishioners, school communities and neighborhoods.The Web site includes information on ecology matters, including a list of principles based on the Catholic Social teachings regarding God’s creation delineated by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.The kit is a “framework for parishes to follow,” Ramon Posada, chair of the Creation Sustainability Committee (CSC), told The Tidings. “We want to encourage parishes to learn more about this ministry and give ideas for reflection in order to be co-creators.”CSC’s focus is based on three areas:

---Development of parish life and facilities, linking energy savings and sustainability suggestions with the realities and parish’s needs.

---Formation, including education and spirituality around the St. Francis Pledge to be co-creators with God and a leaven for change.

---Justice, articulating the Church’s understanding of a right relationship between God and neighbor, stewardship for creation and the impact of sustainability decisions on the most vulnerable in society.  

“In any given area in nature we have the ability as human beings to exercise our intellect and resources,” said Posada. “The question here is, are we sensitive to God’s creation? In creation-care ministry everyone has a role and even the smallest creature manifest something of the Divine.”

To help the faithful and especially youth embrace the care for their surroundings, CSC is promoting a photo essay among K-12 students. Submission deadline will be on Earth Day 2012 (April 22); 20 finalists will be selected and their work displayed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, together with a centerpiece by Swanson.

Posada’s recommendation to those who would like to participate is, “Use your art piece as a vehicle to promote spirituality and capture the St. Francis Pledge.”

Swanson said his involvement in this project is a continuation of his support to peace-making and justice.

“As I read more and more I understand how critical it is to act quickly,” said the 73-year-old author of the serigraph “Francis and the Wolf,” depicting the life of St. Francis of Assisi, and Bible-based art work.

“Weather changes are affecting people in the world with droughts and floods,” he said, “and if we wait it’s going to be too late. We shouldn’t be holding back, but working as a community making efforts to stop endangering the Earth with concrete actions. Just going to Mass doesn’t say too much.”

Several parishes have collaborated with the CSC in promoting environmental awareness and energy conservation.

Among them is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Hermosa Beach, winner of the California Interfaith Power and Light’s 2011 Energy Oscars for converting its facilities (parish, school and friary) to solar power, saving thousands of dollars in electricity, which will revert to the community.

Other leaders in this field considered by the interfaith organization were Resurrection Church in East L.A., Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Immaculate Heart High School (L.A.), St. Rita Church (Sierra Madre) and St. Lorenzo Ruiz Church (Walnut).

Allis Druffle, a leader of the interfaith nonprofit, commended the archdiocese for taking an official stance regarding the impact of environmental issues on the community.

“This is directly related to global justice,” she said, stressing the effects on public health, unemployment and the economy overall. “Earth resources are finite and we need to take care of them.”

“This is a moral issue,” added Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Patricia Krommer, a CSC member. 

For more information about the Creation Sustainability Ministry, go to or call the Office of Justice and Peace, (213) 637-7690.

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