Christine Rossi and Josephine Vassallo
In its journey to become more conscious of its role in educating its learning community to become more respectful citizens of the Earth, St Aloysius College (SAC) in Malta established a green policy and Green Councils in its primary, secondary, and sixth form schools.
For this scholastic year and in response to the Pope’s call to revisit the message of Laudato Si’, SAC chose Embrace – the Others, the Earth and the Poor as its theme and embarked on a formation venture for staff members to deepen their understanding of the values of Laudato Si’. Living Laudato Si’ is thus an invitation to staff to attend eight 1.5-hour online sessions after school.
As coordinators of this formation venture, we reflected that this was an opportunity to reach out to speakers from all over the world, since online seminars made this more possible. Besides making it more interesting, it would also give our members of staff a global understanding of their mission and the Ignatian network of which we are part.
Josephine had long been following Ecojesuit and she suggested we write to ask whether we could link up with any speakers from different parts of the world.
Fr Pedro Walpole SJ and Brex Arevalo met up with us online to discuss our formation course and suggested Fr Mark Lopez SJ who kindly accepted to give us an input on a spiritual reading of Laudato Si’, mostly through Chapter 2.
Fr. Mark is a Filipino Jesuit missionary who worked in Cambodia since 2009 and is now doing Doctoral Studies under the Educational Leadership for Social Justice Program of the Loyola Marymount University-School of Education in Los Angeles, California, in the US. It was a joy to meet up with Fr Mark and we woke him up early in the morning in Los Angeles to deliver our session at 4pm CET.
Fr Mark shared his passion about caring for the Earth through very concrete examples from Cambodia. He also proposed five weeks of prayer on the Laudato Si’ through five key graces he drew from the encyclical.
Drawing on the elements of the Earth, he proposed images (through Drishti, the yogic practice of focused gaze to develop concentration) to contemplate in our daily lives. This he did whilst drawing out excerpts from Laudato Si’ into these five weeks of prayer. We strongly recommend that these could be done in the form of a five-day retreat.
Fr. Mark’s input was priceless because it not only exposed us to the gems within the encyclical, but to the reality of persons who are experiencing the degradation of the Earth through floods and typhoons which destroy their living. He also shared with us his experience of working with Buddhist monks to take care of trees in Cambodia. This brought the importance of the solidarity amongst religions which the Pope constantly calls also in Fratelli Tutti.
Sheryl Cini, a science teacher in the Secondary School, shares her observations:
“Needless to say, the integration of nature and care for the environment in one’s faith was very inspiring. I also found the connection and integration of different practices in different religions very interesting and relevant… The integration and application of different practices from other religions in our own are essential in trying to deepen one’s faith. For example, I personally value nature and find peace and connection when I am surrounded by it. In our Mediterranean culture, I find that certain meditation practices in nature are not very common. I was reminded that nature helps me to rest and find connection with God.”
Reaching out to Ecojesuit to integrate various global experiences made us more aware that our Earth is a common home to many others even miles and oceans away, and that ecological issues will only be solved when we truly work together in caring for this common home.
Ms Christine Rossi is the Global Citizenship Coordinator at St Aloysius College-Malta. Ms Josephine Vassallo is the Delegate for Global Citizenship Education at Fondazione Gesuiti Educazione (Foundation for Jesuit Education), Euro-Mediterranean Province (Italy, Malta, Albania, Romania).